The Day My Phone Vanished in the Chaos of Lagos Traffic: A Heart-Pounding Encounter"

 


Coming out of another interview yesterday, the 6th of the week, and probably the 42nd one in less than one month of being in Lagos, was the downcast, frustrated, tired, and hungry me, as usual, feeling like a failure. Again, after laying all my mighty grammar and vocabulary at the feet of an interviewer, I heard the usual slogan, "We will get back to you," which should be my second most hated statement, closely behind the first, "Nigeria shall be great.".

 

Just like every Nigerian, except the deluded ones, knows that the chances of Nigeria getting anything close to gre... are 0.00876%, so I always handed over everything to the hands of the "God of Chosen" whenever I left any of those interview grounds.

Yesterday, brethren, was one of those days, probably the worst day. The interview session today was blockbusting, and the questions I was asked were hell-fire standard. Of course, I provided answers to those questions to the very best of my knowledge, but without being told, "those best of my knowledge" were actually rubbish and off-points. I'm pretty sure the moment I left, my interviewer would have called together his crew members or relatives and expressly laughed over the stupidity I just exhibited there. Kai!

 

All I just wanted at that point was to get back home, take a cool shower, and then take a nap, before waking up afterward to think straight about how to handle life. Since job hunting doesn't seem to be working, I might either want to consider hunting clients or venturing into full-time wildlife hunting. But first, my plan was to reach home.

So you could only imagine my level of excitement coming out of that awful interview to meet this Yellow Danfo bus journeying directly to Shomolu. (Normally, I was told that one would have boarded on the one that would halt at Agboju, before again boarding on the one that stops at Gbagada, before then getting on the one to Shomolu.)

Double, or triple stress

But this one was direct. Omooor, without even asking for the fare, I hopped in so fast before another man pikin run my race.

 

And brothers, you would at least think that my brain would allow me to get home first before we begin the 'thoughts' process. For where? Not just thoughts, bruh; I was almost going psychotic. Thoughts about life, my future, family, my crippling dreams, finances, the interview I just had, the house and friend I was squatting with, and then also the ultimate fear of finally being unsuccessful at the end of these pestilences. Guy! God forbid.

My brain was literally running temperature, and in the eyes of men, I might have been physically a passenger in that bus, but trust me, my soul had far passed across the borders between Syria and the Mediterranean Sea and would have probably journeyed until it got drowned in River Cambodia, if not for the distracting cry by a less than a year old baby flaring up on his mom's lap just beside me in that bus.

 I would only believe that the baby was not demon-possessed if confirmed by 18 authentic alfas, because, with the way he was stretching those tiny legs while crying, twitching aggressively, and fuming like an epileptic who almost got electrocuted, something didn't seem right. If, by chance, that baby is truly normal, then I'm afraid he might be terribly temperamental in the future. Anger full him with his body.

 

And of course, trust Nigerian women, especially those aged ones with their I to know attitude, all chanting at the boy's mom, 'Madam, give am breast nah, give this boy's breast". I'm not sure the boy's mom listened to them because the baby cried until he eventually fell asleep.

 

Brethren, those few minutes of commotion were actually what returned some portion of my soul to the hectic traffic jam at Oworonshoki/Oshodi Expressway, while the remaining portion returned after I had breathed in and out.

Feeling a bit relieved, I brought out my phone and tried to watch a few Instagram skits, but, bruh, the skits were not exactly skiting. The ones I watched were as dry as the Atacama Desert. Even one of Sydney Talker's videos, which had never failed to crack me up whenever it popped up on my feed, seemed as 'Stupid' as Tinubu's swearing-in clip must have seemed to LP supporters. Nothing was amusing.

 

P.S. Please, whenever you come across those guys under an obviously hilarious skit chanting words like "Not funny, dry," take 15 seconds to say a heartfelt word of prayer for them. Those guys are the central processing unit of depression. If 2% of the burden in their hearts is passed across to you, I bet you'll board an emergency flight out of this earth through the third mainland bridge. I have been there, and I now know how it feels.

 

In an attempt to postpone my sadness until I at least get back home, I tried playing some cool jams from my favorite antidepressants, Billie Eilish and Sia, but bruh, instead of the sorrow-shifting I wanted to achieve, I almost began to tear up. Tears were slowly clouding my eyelids and were almost about to stream down my face, so I had to take off my earpiece before the elderly woman on that bus noticed the second crybaby. In my case, of course, instead of getting apportioned the breasts of any single lady in that bus, they fit come dey look me like toilet tissue paper.

So, brethren, I had to switch to articles and news reading—anything to take my mind off the mental stress in my head.

Believers, I was in the middle of this very thrilling and inspiring article by one 'Miss Jumoke', on Nairaland when that tragedy that might have shattered the remainder of my will to live happened. This very dark black hand peered through the window screen, and out of the blue, he stretched forth his arm and, like a flash, pulled my iPhone X out of my hands with the fastest speed of light I have ever seen. It was just like Rapture. Voommmm, Vammmmm, and my phone was gone.

I was on the edge of the bus's last roll, so literally, I'm not sure anybody noticed what happened, which further compounded the issue. Maybe if someone had seen, he or she would have screamed and invited the attention of other passengers on my behalf. And just maybe, I might get suggestions on how to recover my phone, or even maybe, have two or three elder statesmen (Egbon Adugbos) help me go in chase of this phone snatcher. Honestly, I might be the last person on earth to want to use my reggae to spoil another person's blues (pest a stranger with my own problems).

So I jejely asked the bus driver to drop me, and jejely I alighted and found a shed where I stood helplessly, still like an abandoned project that was commissioned by Raji Fashola in 2009.

 

I was not sure what was going through my mind at those moments, but all I remember doing was following each person who was passing with my eyes. If they were holding a phone, my eyes followed closely; if a person's phone had a black phone pouch, my eyes followed more closely; if the phone that person was holding resembled an iPhone, I closely followed that person until I was sure it wasn't mine.

I'm still wondering what made my destabilized and shattered mind believe that, by the gibberish I was doing, I would single out my phone's thief out of the millions of humans in Lagos. But you know what they say about the mind achieving whatever it can conceive. At least that should be one motivational quote that seems true.

 

Brethren, I had roamed around, trailing any suspects with phones of any kind of resemblance to mine for over two hours, when I sighted this guy holding an exact replica of my iPhone.

 

An exact replica! The same texture, the same black pouch, the same blue ink spot at the back of the pouch—same everything—was in the hands of this dangerous-looking, slim, tall, dark dude with roughly kept dirty-looking dreads and beards who was crossing onto the other lane of the road.

I'm not gonna lie! At that moment, it seemed to me like some kind of trance—seeing my phone, which was snatched earlier, in the hands of some unintellectual criminal with zero street orientation. An average thief with even three months of experience should know that after stealing a phone, the next thing you should do is aggressively search for where to change the phone's casing, color, and IP address. But this particular dude was even arrogantly swagging out while crossing a very riotous road, bouncing like a newly elected ward councilor who rigged his way to victory.

And now, that was the worrisome part, because my vocal cords were already about to scream "Ole, Ole, Ole," but then, the guy's confidence had me checking a lot of what-ifs.

What if the phone he was holding was simply a replica of mine? What if the person I'm about to harass is a peace-loving resident of Lagos, just going about his normal business and honestly earning his daily bread?

What if I end up being the embarrassed one after confronting this guy?

Now about the blue spot at the back of the phone's pouch (the most coincidental issue), what if?

 

But again, what if that's my phone in the hands of its confident snatcher, who, by calculations, thought I would be at home by now mourning the theft of my phone?

What if?

 



Omo, I suspended the whole drama going on in my head and, at once, also crossed to the other side of the road. Not to harass! Not to confront, but to do my usual: trail slowly from behind until I certify my suspect innocent or guilty.

Gently, slowly, fast, and aggressively, I kept following this guy from behind. If he stopped at a spot to get something or chat with one of his thieves, I paused as well (he did this up to five times). Once he got on his move, I continued trailing. The plan was to keep following him until we got to a secluded area with few people, and there I would approach him first as a calm stranger, exchange pleasantries with him, then pretend to be a lost stranger seeking directions to Shomolu, all this and more while spying at the phone he's holding.

I might even compliment the phone and request to have a feel for it, and if he obliges, I'll immediately spy through to know if it's mine. (I don't know whether this may seem suspicious—a random stranger requesting to have a feel of the phone of someone he is meeting for the first time.)

 

But this shouldn't be a problem; it's a normal bro-to-bro thing on Nigerian streets. So if he is clean, he shouldn't have a problem releasing his phone for me to feel.

 

Or better still, I might approach him like a needy stranger, begging that he borrow me his phone so I could make a quick call to a relative, as my phone had just run out of battery. (My problem with this strategy is that he might be helping me out with another phone, maybe the one inside his pocket or something.). 

 

N.B.: So I had to go with the first option.

 

And if he refuses to give out his phone, then we'll have to toll the rough road. I will have to slug it out with him and drag the phone out of his hands. Thank goodness he is skinny; taking him on shouldn't be a problem. We go battle am, and I go collect my phone.

 

Brethren, this was the plan I had to creatively draft out while trailing and following him slowly from behind. 

 

I kept following, kept trailing, and kept mustering these words: "Secluded place, approach him, and then act like a stranger seeking directions."

 

I kept following and kept trailing.

and

Suddenly, I noticed that the guy's steps accelerated. The dude started walking faster than usual. Rushedly walking like someone afflicted with a running and purging stomach, desperately looking for where to exercise his human franchise (i.e., looking for a toilet to answer the call of nature),  It seemed as if he sensed that there was danger. As if he had noticed that I was following. His speed kept increasing, and at some point, it seemed like he was beginning to sprint. Like, play! Like a joke, this guy began to run.

 

Omooor, with those few points of his, I was now fully convinced and no longer shaky that that guy had my phone.

Running on a sunny afternoon, just like that! It might have seemed normal to other people.

It might have seemed like he was jogging or exercising other people, or it might have seemed like he was trying to catch up with a concern for other people.

but nah meknow, wetting dey sup. Nah me know, wetin I was dey suspect.



I chased after this guy, chaseeeed after him. Come see temple run inside public market, my brother. Inter-sport six-hundred-meter marathon no do reach this one. My heart was boiling. If I had caught that dude, the one slap I would have first weighed down his left cheek would have made him share the same physical disability with Cobhams Asuquo for at least 15 minutes.  

 

But there it ended, believers, at "If I had caught." This guy vanished before my very own eyes. Vanished into the thin air. Vanished that way, Nigerian ghosts vanished on African Magic Channel 152 on DSTV. I seriously don't want to sound superstitious, but I swear that guy didn't outrun me, and I refuse to believe the tale people are telling me about the thief mixing up in the crowd. My eyes were too fixed to be confused.

What I saw was purely diabolic. 








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