By Olajumoke Yusuf
Ezra shifted uncomfortably and prayed to God that the slow Lagos traffic would soon ease up so he would get out of this predicament. Earlier that morning, he had heard a little whimpering sound while raining expletives on his car that refused to work. The vet in Ezra wouldn’t let it go, and when he leaned to check under his car, he found a duck drenched in the rain and shivering from the cold. On close inspection, he discovered that the duck’s beak looked a bit crooked and had a broken leg. Oddly, it reminded him of the children’s storybook “the ugly duckling.” Obviously, the bird had been abused.
Now, the logical thing for Ezra to do would have been to go back inside his house and give the duck some sort of first aid, but he had wasted too much time on his car and was late. He also had a nine o clock appointment with a rather difficult client. Resolutely, he picked up the duck gently, careful not to jostle it so he wouldn’t aggravate its wounds, and laid it in his backpack. The duck sensing it was safe, put its head down and slept.
So Ezra walked extra carefully to the bus stop and prayed that the duck would keep sleeping until he got to work. He should have known that prayer wouldn’t be answered. First, he was roughly shoved by the conductor into the Danfo bus, and then he sat beside a woman who probably should have paid for two seats in order for her to sit comfortably. So he was basically squished. He kept his bag at arm’s length and hoped that the duck would keep sleeping, and for a while, it seemed like he would make it to work without any mishaps until that godforsaken traffic holdup happened.
Ezra heard a little whimper, and he knew it came from the duck. He could feel the woman staring quizzically at him, but he kept his eyes forward. Maybe if he ignored her, she wouldn’t say anything. The duck whimpered again, and the woman started to inch further from Ezra. It happened again, and the woman let out a guttural scream.
“Egbami! Egbami! This man has a child in his bag. He has kidnapped a baby. Egbami!”
Every pair of eyes on that bus turned to look at Ezra, and it was at that moment he knew that he was in trouble. People didn’t hesitate to lynch supposed criminals in this part of town. Before Ezra could say anything, two of the biggest men on the bus were standing in front of him, demanding to see his bag's contents. The woman was still screaming. Even the driver had stopped driving and was looking back menacingly.
“I don’t have to show you what’s in my bag. It’s not a baby. I can assure you that.” Ezra feebly attempted to defend himself.
One of the men snatched the bag from him and started to open it.
“Please be careful!”
Startled, the duck opened its eyes and quacked loudly. The man dropped the bag in surprise.
“Na duck dey inside here. Wetin you wan use am do? You wan use am do ritual abi?!”
At this point, the duck was agitated and quacking loudly, and Ezra kept trying to defend himself.
Angrily, he brandished his identity card so they could all see he was a vet.
“Next time, make you try dey talk. You for don die like that.” One of the men said jokingly and slapped Ezra on the back in a friendly gesture.
People dropped their phones, and the driver began the journey once more. This was a typical morning in Lagos for them.
“I still think say you be yahoo boy,” the woman beside Ezra whispered, and he prayed to God to give him the strength not to say anything and arrive at his workplace safely. In the same breath, he cursed his mechanic for doing a shoddy job and landing him in this situation.
Olajumoke Yusuf is passionate about reading and writing. She spends most of her time buried in one book or the other. She absolutely loves fantasy and mythology, and her favourite authors are Sarah J Maas and Rick Riordan. She hopes to one day publish a book about the orishas of Yoruba land.
Currently, Olajumoke is studying for her master's degree in communication and media studies at Lagos State University.