Of many short distance journeys, Zaria to Kano or Kano to Zaria is perhaps one among popular short distance travels in northern Nigeria. I have travelled along this route one too many times, but this time I thought about penning down my experience. Not because it was my most squalor-ridden, jet lag-inflicting or boredom-beseeching journey- perhaps it was, but particularly because my instincts have never compelled me, in a do or die manner, to do a thing as it keeps pushing me to write about this journey.
The journey shouldn’t be hectic; if you are travelling in a private or spatial car, or long cars like Sienna, Quest, Sharon and the likes. But I am a student in Zaria, who has to travel on every hiatus; holidays, strikes among others, and who is my daddy to think I will get a private ride home? So I take the public fare. Conventionally, cars popularly known as “Golf” are used as cabs along this itinerary. I don’t want to go ahead and assume you know what a small golf car looks like since you all don’t work in a Volkswagen company, so I will describe briefly:
It has two doors like every other conventional two-door car, from outside; it looks long and cozy, but a closer view will reveal that a quarter of it is the boot of the car where passengers’ luggage are stuck to its brim. The driver’s seat is so closely bundled with the front passenger seat; one will wonder if the car was intended to have two drivers. At the back of the car, the seats were closely covering on the front seats and the passengers’ knees tightly locking the rear of the front seat. In this stuffy and comfort-forsaken ambience, the cabmen carry four passengers at the back and two at the front, three including the driver. It is like having four people on a motor bike or better still, create a mental image of African slaves transported to Europe during the erstwhile infamous slave trade and yay! You got the image.
Ideally, the journey should take two hours or less, but you know its Nigeria, with the road hiccups and uneven potholes, one should be in Kano in three hours or less. I planned to convert my weakness to my strength by taking along a novel- TRAM 83- my friend had told me was amazing, to the car, who knows, my journey could just be jaunty! But trust me; it was the worst three hours of my life:
By my right was a fat woman, who consumed half of the entire backseat with her mammoth hips, leaving the other half for myself and two other men, the two men were in their late thirties; when one of them entered the car, he browbeat me with his notorious looking face; “Malan please adjust”, so I was forced to squeeze myself behind the fat woman, tilting and sitting on my right buttocks. My right arm partly squeezed behind my back, trying so hard to avoid touching the woman, while the man to my left was stepping on my feet and compressing my left shoulder almost meeting my erstwhile hidden right shoulder through the back. There I was like a roasted chicken who was begging for his life when he died and so I remained until I got to Kano.
What sustained me perhaps throughout the journey was the drama that was going on at the front seat; a lady in her twenties wanted to pee, but she went all choosy about the toilet to pee. At the filling station where we stopped to get gas, she was shown another toilet, but she refused for fear of germs and too many men around. She said she had been pressed from Abuja, and upon stopping at Zaria, she immediately boarded a cab to Kano like in transit. I found her very un-Nigerian; I mean she didn’t look all polished to be choosy; a typical Nigerian in that pressing situation shouldn’t and wouldn’t get to choose where to pee. But there she was, sturdy in her decision until we got to Kano and she dispersed. I am certain when she gets home, the first thing she will do is pee. And it’s perhaps going to be the longest pee ever.
What I couldn’t sustain about the journey was the fact that it won’t be my last in this helluva situation, and perhaps I don’t have anything to do about it. When I got home I still watched Barcelona’s match against Valencia, after which, I technically died until the next day.