Of late, I began to think to myself what Lagos means to me. Yes, it’s been a place to crash for many years but it’s still a long definition from home.
So, this Lagos; the land of everything I have become. The place where life took it’s first jab at me, and beat me, it did. Mercilessly too. The place where life made meaning and on the other hand tended towards meaninglessness. For some, it is the land of money and frivolities and shiny women. For others, it is a place where you can live larger than you are. For me, it is a land of dreams, endless yellow buses and exhausting traffic.
Lagos is fun, I mean. It is fun from its crowded clubs on Friday nights to its groovy warm Saturday afternoons and empty Cinema halls on Sunday mornings. It is fun from the just-let out crowds of Oshodi every evening to the annoying blares of neighbours’ cars every morning.
Lagos. That land that got me literally counting the bridges on that first ride to the city in Daddy’s car. Coming from a city where we knew our neighbours even when acres of Yam, corn and Efo farmlands seperate each house, to a place where the bridges merged one into another, it was expected.
This Lagos where I first learnt the differences in beings; how people used people and adored things. This Lagos where I received my first slap for “knowing too much book”, where I learnt to downplay my intelligence and be deaf to certain talks. This Lagos where I first got lost on the green buses of Obalende, heading to JAMB office because Papa felt it was time to take my first outing alone.
This Lagos where I first realized there was more to people, that people were not just Egba or Ijebu or Awori. That there were Ibos too and Tivs and Idomas and Hausas and Eshan and that I won’t always make sense of people’s names.
This Lagos where I first learnt why bathroom doors came with bolts and why even when they are bolted, you still have to remain covered; you never know what “uncle” or “broda” was peeping through some keyhole.
This Lagos where I lost my voice and regained it, where I lost identity only to spend my last teenage years, looking for it, for a place of belonging. This Land where I trudged the roads like some homeless child because only a few people were ready to point out the way.
This Lagos blinded by dusts and tankers and waters and lights and wheels, leaving everyone reeling in the wake of these things.
This Lagos where you can’t differentiate between your shadow and the pickpocket walking so close to you so that you live in perpetual fear and distrust of the person right next to you; even when that person is you. This Lagos where trust is bought in cash.
This Lagos of first loves and the many goodbyes that were only quick to follow. This Lagos of many hushed tones and heavy blows quick to resound in the echoes of eerie nights. This Lagos were I learnt to be everything I am; where I knew about reality long before I was taught dreams exist. This Lagos where life got blown up and scattered like clothes cut up at a tailor’s shop.
This Lagos where I am learning to start again and not be defined by things lost and days past. This Lagos of Yellow buses and endless Lagoons. This Lagos.