by Adeboro Odunlami
I looked for the waste bin in the store until my eyes hurt. There was none. Alhaja Muinat was watching me closely with an amused smile playing on her lips as though she felt some sort of admiration for my folly. My eyes met hers and I finally asked, ‘Abeg, where’s the waste bin? I want to throw this away’, pointing my empty bottle of Coke towards her.
She smiled and said, ‘Ahahn! I’ve been watching you since you entered this shop. Did you just come to Lagos tomorrow?’
‘Tomorrow?’ I replied.
She roared in laughter, throwing her head so backward that I almost rushed to support her neck with my hands. When she was done, she faced me and wiped her eyes. I suspected she was under some influence. ‘Ahahn! You don’t even know slang. I meant, are you a JJC? Drop the bottle outside in the gutter outside joor let’s talk business. The materials you picked are so lovely; you carry eye come market.’ Then she paused and opened her eyes as though a bulb came on in her head, ‘Abi you no sabi that slang too?’
Another fit of laughter.
I smiled and put the bottle in my bag. She stretched her fingers towards me and said, ‘Eh. Eko oni baje people. Okay o. What is LAWMA for if not to pick trash? At least Olamide has told us that you should leave trash for LAWMA’
Another fit of laughter.
But I left the store thinking about how Nigerians just keep laughing as we plant wahala for ourselves; and then cry when it grows to a harvest.
Flooding is such a reality in this country. Year in year out, there are chilling reports of rainwaters visiting families in their houses; traders in their stores; congregations in their places of worship. People lose properties worth more than they have in their bank accounts, while some are displaced from their homes. Some children and adults drown or are simply carried away on the shoulders of the flood.
It’s usually a period of tragedies, and questions like ‘what is the government doing’ fly around.
But then, it seems simple enough to know that in order to avoid this unnecessary flooding in the first place, we must not litter the few drainage systems that have been put in place;
Simple enough for bus commuters to understand that in order to keep their route open even during the raining season, they must rebuke their itchy fingers from throwing out litter to the road;
Simple enough for shopkeepers to calculate that in order to have their goods dry and safe and for them to even be able to get into their stores during the raining season, it’s important to keep the gutters and drainage system clean and devoid of litter;
Simple enough for anyone living within any kind of shelter to know that a roof over the head is only guaranteed if you can actually stay under that roof. And so, if you don’t want a huge mango tree or a tattered umbrella to replace your home during the rainy season, you have to ensure that drainage systems which are supposed to flow freely, flow freely.
The gutters and waste compartments are to the city what veins and arteries are to your body. There’s a reason why a heart attack is serious and treated as such. Until we are able to relate the dumping of waste into gutters and drainage systems as being synonymous with hearing that a heart attack is coming, we may continue to enjoy the annual flood festivals.
The waters from the skies come in peace and with good intentions. They want to wash your streets, water your crops and, maybe, give you an excuse to stay back home and do ‘weather for two’. If however, you get jealous of the streets and the plants, and you also want to have a taste of heaven right inside your living room or your shop, then by all means, re-channel the waters; divert them away from the drains and welcome them into your home. They are polite and won’t turn down an invitation.
Adeboro is a graduate of Law, a photographer and a collector of experiences. You probably, most likely, already know her.