Do you have a friend who is an alarmist? Meet Tina; She’s their Queen.
Mrs Augustina Amos who I fondly call Tina is one woman I sincerely love. I dare myself to call her my friend. Oh, I forgot to mention, since she is my superior at work, are we even allowed to be friends? I’d let you be the judge of that.
Generally speaking, Tina has a lot of qualities I want to emulate. On the one hand, she is all strong, swift in thinking, and would undoubtedly make you laugh, while, on the other hand, she will put the fear of God in you in every unwarranted situation. This will make you wonder what kind of a human being she is. To sum this up, this latter trait of her’s earned her the name “Alarmist” in 2016.
Two days before the day of the incidence of this christening ⸻Alarmist, Tina’s car developed a strange problem on our way home. Our saviour that day was one of those emergency wiring guys. You know, these type of handymen that particularly pray for people’s car to break down? Yes, that type of handyman was our saviour that day.
The Handyman opened the bonnet of her Nissan car, looked through and somehow, said the car had an electrical problem. He touched one or two wires; by-pass some more wires and reconnected other wires. Her car started. To be honest, Tina and I did not know what he did to the car, we were just too grateful his magic touch revived the car. We drove home.
Two days after his magician’s touch on her car, was doomsday. On our way home, just at about Ilupeju – as we were about to ascend the Oshodi bridge, I perceived something like toast bread. I was hungry, and the area is basically an industrial one, so it didn’t make us think we were in danger.
While I was still all about the smell of toast bread in the mega-super traffic of the Oshodi bus terminal construction, the smell of toast bread intensified. Ohhhh o – Tina, where could this toast bread smell be coming from? She replied; Toyo, toast bread bi ti bawo? ebin lo kpa e jor!
while the smell of toast may be true, If only we knew what we were up against, for the most part, I would not have been hungry. At about 5 minutes later, just as we ascended the Oshodi bridge, the smell of toast changed to burnt cardboard. The drama escalated quickly.
Tina said she felt the steering of the car stiff in her hands. Stiff ke? Tina put off the AC and rolled down the windows to enable us to ascertain where the smell was coming from. Was it from within the car or the environment? We could not tell immediately.
We now heard a pufffff sound and smoke gushed out from the air-conditioning vents. It was as if we were in a dream. O ti shele o! We looked at ourselves with mouths open, not wanting to think of what could be the reality of what was happening.
Half-way on the bridge, Tina added that she could not control the car brakes. Her panic mode changed to alarm. In less than ten minutes when I first perceived toast bread, Tina declared that we were at the mercy of God.
There was so much smoke in the car, and I was trying to figure out two things. First, we were at Oshodi, we could get robbed of all our possession even though our lives were in danger; and secondly, how do we secure our property? It was important to know what to take; and what not to take. I was still busy calculating, which was the greater danger – our lives or belongings when Tina became too overwrought to listen to reason. Her lamentations soon left me very confused.
In a moment which seemed like a lifetime, Tina made a million and one statements as she found a good place to park the car. Toyo, where is my phone? Call Treasure! I was like, Treasure? It didn’t quickly occur to me that she meant her husband. Toyo, what is happening? Before I could answer, she continued, God, spare our lives! Jesus forgive us of our sins!
In a blatant manner, she continued, Give us this day, our daily bread!
The Lord is our shepherd!
God receive us into your kingdom ooo! She made something like the sign of the cross.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t concentrate anymore, but wonder if we were already in hellfire or before the angel of death who would sentence us to hell. I rolled my eyes as I made attempts to calm her down. Tina stop being an alarmist na, why you kon dey shout laidis? I just saw the orange flame from the air-conditioning vents and the dashboard. Tina saw it too. It was the most compelling evidence for Tina to go gaga; The car was burning, and we were inside it.
I knew this alarmist would never be calm again. she raised her voice to the highest decibel, Ha! Wor ti get wa! The devil is a liar, we will not roast in Jesus name! My children o! Toyosi can you see? And you are saying calm down! What am I calming! Jesus ooooo! My saviour!I prayed this morning- Blood of Jesus, deliver us!
I was just quiet.
The next thing I heard Tina say was “Toyo, if I park…”, before she could complete the sentence, I just saw her petite body frame, run in front of the car to the service lane. “…run for your dear life”, which was her concluding sentence of Toyo, if I park, was said from where she stood at a very safe end of the service lane. Haaa!
without delay, Tina was out of the car when my own brain was still overthinking how our things could be kept safe. I know I saw the fire, but I didn’t think we couldn’t save our bags. Knowing the friend I have, all things considered, the mission to save our bags was rested on my shoulders.
Tina started screaming *yeeehhhhh* *yeeeehhhhh* *fireee!* fireeee!!* It was a lost cause. She was just going to be a very good alarmist of the fire and nothing more. How na? you run out comot leave me, come stand dey shout from service lane. Don’t you know these touts will steal our bags?
The fire in the car was getting bigger; I soon gave up the idea to pick any of our belongings from the car, and Tina’s *yeeehhhhh* *yeeeehhhhh* *fireee!* fireeee!!* like a Minion, attracted a large crowd. She was far away from the car as far as possible. If there was going to be an explosion, she would be able to give an excellent account of what happened unhurt. I was happy that she was safe at that distance.
I tried to breathe in oxygen, and amid that chaos, somehow, I remembered that I had three thesis proposals, and the brief of J.K Randle estate saved on my laptop. These documents were not synced to my one drive. To begin to explain the grieve that my soul felt if they stole my laptop is torture.
I just saw touts by the windows of the car trying to steal and not to save. In other words, they made my getting out of the car very uncomfortable. I just told myself, Toyo, whether you get out of this car dead or alive, you are going to get robbed.
Eventually, I decided to make an effort of self-preservation. I moved to the driver’s seat, slightly opened the door to avoid a jam that will entrap me in the car while it was burning. I also removed the keys from the ignition, dragged Tina’s handbag and laptop bag from behind the driver’s seat.
After that, I was able to stretch to pick my handbag and laptop bag from the owner’s corner. That was when it finally happened. I felt a stranger’s hand touch mine amid the smoke. I froze!
Inasmuch as the fear of death was imminent, I quickly remembered that I must still save myself. Holding firm the car keys, I forcefully poked and scratched the hand of the stranger till the stranger yanked out his hand, causing a loud bang. I moved back to the passenger’s seat where my right leg kicked something soft in nylon. It was bread. Tina and I had bought bread before we left Alausa that day. I picked up the nylons in a haphazard way.
If I perish, I don’t want to be remembered as the girl who chose to save her bags than her life. But, I dangerously thought that If only I could open the car door, I would get out safe. Carrying the weight of the world on me, I successfully opened the passenger’s door like James Bond, and I stumbled out of the car with the nylons tearing and the bread tossing to the floor.
Undeniably, all I heard as I tried to take my step out the door, was Toyooooo, what are you doing? I say run for your dear lifeeee! I gave Tina a quizzical look, Like seriously? If I don’t make any effort to save us, then who will? I could barely see where to run to, let alone ask Tina for help. To clarify, before Tina’s alarmed brain would process my request for assistance, area boys would have stolen our bags. I managed to get to where Tina stood without collapsing.
Tina remembered her phone. I looked at her like Oshisko! So you know you say you need your phone abi? She said Toyo leave matter for Musa for gate, shebi it is you that can save the bags, well-done o! Me, I don’t want to die. She called her husband. Looking at the traffic situation, it would take at least one hour if he was very fast to get to us.
At this point, no one helped us, not even the LASTMA or Policemen stationed at the foot of Oshodi bridge. They pretended as though whatever that was happening was none of their damn work business. That still hurts. Cars were speeding past us.
To show that we were destined to be on our own, a man stopped and attempted to help us, but trust Tina na, her alarmist nature, blew the chance for us. The man asked, “Madam, where is your fire extinguisher?” Tina just had to say, “what is that?” The man demonstrated, fire extinguisher! She replied, “I don’t know, please ask my husband”. I opened my mouth, I didn’t even know when I said, ahan! Ask your husband, ke? The man kuku left us. I was in shook.
Tinaaa they say fire extinguisher o! she repeated, Toyo, I don’t know; call my husband. She kept chanting fire! Fire o!! Fire!!! Unending in that order. All I did was grab the bags to my chest like the cross of Jesus. A section of the crowd paid attention to us and jeered at us in Yoruba that who gave us the car to drive when we couldn’t figure out where the fire extinguisher was? I couldn’t even blame anyone at all. If she wasn’t my friend, I probably would have joined them. Another tout approached us, but Tina even made it worse she told the tout to go find the fire extinguisher in the car. I just accepted the fate of being stuck with an alarmist.
One last tout dared to approach me with a better solution. He asked if I would give him some money to put out the fire. Whatever worked was welcoming to me. I nodded my head. He tried in vain to put out the fire with the pure water wares of a street hawker and some detergents. Instead, Tina began to shout on all our helpers to leave the car and not die.
Don’t go near it o!
I won’t be held liable if anybody dies from the fire o!
I am warning you people!
It was so ridiculous, it took all the grace of God in me, not to hit her. As much as I could, I started to read out the obvious to her; Tina, we do not have fire extinguishers in Nigeria? I called 911, the receiver asked me if there was traffic. In the end, I had to slam the phone after I spoke at length in vain. Tina, so your lawyer brain can work in this circumstance? I busted out laughing, while I shook her arms to bring her back to the reality that only men can put out the fire, not angels. Alarmist, edakun, ring this your bell to the right direction.
She concluded, Toyo, Eeh Toyo, I am not there o! I rolled my eyes, ema gbami ke, iru eyan wor leleyi!
I moved closer to the car; we can’t be the owner and not be concerned. As soon as I moved closer to the car, Tina moved further away from it. In fact, she was almost in front of the Etisalat office at Oshodi.
The touts tried to put out the fire unsuccessfully.
A good Lagosian finally came through for us. In view of our predicament, he brought out his fire extinguisher and put out the fire. It was only that time that Tina left her safe abode and approached us. The man asked me to manually try the car keys on the doors. Tina’s brain stopped registering information the minute the man mentioned the car doors. she fled back to the service lane! Haba! I wanted to scream Alarmist, put off the fire alarm in your head.
The man gave up trying to explain anything to Tina. He advised I put all of our belongings in the trunk of the car, and if the car doors were automatically locked, we could wait in his car till our help came. In this situation, we found a wonderful man. Finally, a relief!
The man walked behind me as I tested the key on the passenger’s door. It worked. He helped me with the bags, ensured I removed our phones and locked all our items in the trunk. The man told us to be on the look-out for thieves and left us without us even getting the chance to say thank you.
So I left the car to our safe harbour ⸻ Tina’s spot on the service lane. There, we paid the tout an obscene amount of money for their failed attempt at putting out the fire. Tina was still dazed. I couldn’t take my eyes off my alarmist. I wonder what could have happened if I wasn’t with her.
To show our country’s lack of empathy, the LASTMA officials who watched while Tina’s car burned without helping out, threatened us with the law to impound Tina’s car for causing an obstruction. Tina alarmist nature took care of that. She guaranteed that if anyone in Lagos state touched her car. the person would become its new owner. The officials soon left us like alai ni kan shey la won eleyi o!
Tina’s husband joined us, and the way Tina narrated the incidence to him, you would think we got burnt in the car. I was looking at my body to be sure I was unscarred. Her husband went straight to the driver’s seat, and he brought out two fire extinguishers of different sizes. His facial expression said it all. It was at that point; Tina truly understood what fire extinguisher was. I was just weak, and as I have shown, I named her Tina, the queen of Alarmist geng!
For other previous post see: http://oluwatoyosiabikoye.com/index.php/2020/07/17/my-legal-dress-ede-ravenscroft/