A Journey to a Bus Stop

Deji knew by the name on the can that one more drink would add to his predicament. His doctor at the NHS had warned him. The name of the product typed in white cursives and lying beautifully on the red can, never failed to attract him. Deji had once given up but, today, he wanted it.

He checked his watch. The 86-bus was due in ten minutes but he needed an extra twenty minutes to get to the bus stop. One day, he concluded, he’d escape this.

Pop. Open. Gawk-gawk-gawk. Refreshed. Then the guilt crept in. He looked at himself on his vertical mirror, lifted his shirt and rubbed the smooth contours on his wavy stomach.

Slowly, he picked up his bag and walked out of the room. He walked like an elephant — tump-tump-tump. He said goodbye to the security man at the exit. First, Deji vanished into the crowd of fast walking office workers then later became visible. He held his first pole, took a deep breath, looked up and continued his journey to the bus stop. It was remarkable how similar his yesterday was to today. It had been the same.

He’d always been a fitness buff. He’d played basketball for Saint Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, and had the whole packs on his stomach. He attracted the flirtatious eyes of men and women. That sweet memory rushed in as he held his second pole. Two more poles, and he’d be at Barking bus stop.

He saw, to his surprise, a flashy ad, which displayed the forbidden product he just demolished. While business boomed for these companies, they doomed Deji. He raised his head and from there, he sighted the third pole.

He decided to raise his head and walk straight to the bus stop but he just couldn’t follow his will. It embarrassed him everyday. A fit girl had called him a snail on Monday.

Lately, he’d been interested in fitness magazines. He picked two copies of Mens’ Health, which reminded him of his past. But, his friend, Ikhide, always reminded him that “I get am before, no be property.” He was close to the third pole; he wanted to continue to the fourth but his knees shook, his lungs rolled into his mouth, he stopped and held it.

Buses rushed past, humans criss-crossed in their ant mode as Deji watched them. Someone on his right, in between the fourth pole and the third pole played an irritating version of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. The rhythm lacked rhyme. The sound faded in his ears. He could no longer recognise the song as he reached the fourth pole, his bus stop.