It has been long – but it is never too late to read a good story! I was inspired by a colleague’s story to put this fictional piece together. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to leave a comment and share! Happy Reading!
It was supposed to be a 12-hour journey, one just like many I have had before – from Tamale to Accra. I was scheduled to set off on Sunday, 9:30am, and my mother insisted that she will go with me, but I assured her I will be fine and can handle 12 hours without supervision – I mean, what 23-year-old woman needs supervision, anyway?
“Sybil, are you sure you don’t want me to come with you? It is not too late to buy a seat, o” Mom had said.
I wrapped her in a tight hug, “Yes, momma. I am sure. I will update you when we stop for transit,” and when she looked uncertain, I added, “I will update you often.”
I crosschecked that my bags were in the trunk of the bus, and then got onto the bus to find a seat. I took a window seat at the back of the bus. We arrived relatively early to the station, so the bus was sparsely seated. I picked out the book I was reading and fidgeted with the bookmark.
“Is this seat taken?” I looked up to see a pleasant-looking stranger standing in the aisle. He had kind eyes and wore a tired smile. I smiled back.
Before I answered him, I looked around at the bus and noticed there were a lot of vacant double seats. I would’ve wanted to sit alone to cool off the sweat faster, if I were him.
I shook my head anyway, “No it isn’t.”
He took off his heavily packed backpack, his sweater (wow, no wonder he was sweating so much) and sat down. He made himself comfortable quickly, slouching slightly and hanging his sweater over the seat in front of him.
He smelled nice – like freshly washed laundry and I noticed (with pleasure) that he made a conscious effort not to touch me with his sweaty arms. He had a little book on his lap – a journal and he wrote in it briefly and pulled out his phone and earphones.
I wondered how long it will take for him to start a conversation, or if he intended to make conversation at all, seeing as he chose to sit next to me instead of the empty seats in front of us. I peered into my book anyway, occasionally glancing in his direction from the corner of my eyes.
It wasn’t too long before he said, “I’m Daryl – “
I smiled to myself; “Nice to meet you, I’m Sybil”
“Our names rhyme!” He actually sounded excited. He sounded like a five-year-old about to eat chocolate. It humored me, and a hearty laugh rolled out of my belly.
I shook my head at my reaction and responded, “Yes, it seems so!”
When the bus took off, I texted my mother, tucked my phone away, and got lost in conversation with Daryl. We talked about the various reasons why we were in Tamale; his childhood friend’s engagement, and my grandfather’s birthday. We talked extensively about our families and close friends, occasionally bursting out in laughter and receiving glares of disapproval in response. We shared my sandwiches and his fruit juices and continued enjoying each other’s company.
Daryl was my savior that day, and I didn’t even know I would need one. There were two route options to Accra: you could either go through Volta Region or Kumasi and the driver used his discretion in making the choice.
After three hours on the road, the VIP bus parked in a queue behind about 30 busses, waiting to cross the Volta Lake to Yeji – the driver had chosen the Volta Region route.
Daryl and I only noticed where we were because of disgruntled shouts from passengers. I checked the time, and quickly sent my mother another update text.
“I can’t believe we have spent the whole day here!”
The woman who had moved into the seats in front of us stood up in a dramatic flair.
She went on, “There are over 30 busses here! One ferry takes only nine buses and will be back in 4 hours! How will we cross before they close at five?! Do you want us to sleep here! *Ab) three oo, driver!” I could see her body visibly shaking.
The driver sucked his teeth and stepped off the bus – he was obviously not having the best of days. Without our noticing, tension had risen in the bus while we waited for the Ferry to slowly commute across the lake. Some passengers had fallen asleep, and others were on their phones.
Daryl asked a man close-by what exactly the issue was, and the man said, “The driver claims the bus company managers instructed him to use this route. There are some buses ahead of us who have been waiting to cross since yesterday.” The addition at the end sounded like he was speaking to himself than speaking to Daryl.
After about an hour, the driver got back into the bus and started to turn the bus around. As we drove out of the Salaga District, someone asked the driver where he was taking us and he responded, “I’m using the other route”.
It was just the beginning of our journey – and we didn’t even know it.
…to be continued…
*its three o’clock – twi