Balpolam Idi
5 min readMay 19, 2021
Photo by Dorel Gnatiuc on Unsplash

About two months ago, I closed from work weary, hungry and in much despair. The guy repairing my PC had just once again, squashed my little glimmer of hope. I just wanted to get home. I can’t remember the walk to the junction. It was most likely filled with pleas to God and questions for the Holy Spirit. I told God I needed a ride and a golden coloured Sienna stopped in front of me, saying karu- jikwoyi not so long after. Knowing that was the ride, the answer to my prayer, I hopped in.

Now, I had limited battery life on my phone and I was trying to read my Bible and submit my contribution to a substack Bible study series I contribute to. You should check it out, it’s called the City of Hope

Anyway, I was so preoccupied with my thoughts, I didn’t even pay attention to the man that was seated beside me. It should be noted that I was an obsessive wearer of facemasks. My observation had been that fewer humans talk to me when I wear a mask, so why not! But this man was one of the few coconut heads roaming. This man thought “ahh Lemme talk to this babe wearing facemask and earphones while typing furiously on her phone. Surely she would want to chat.”

He had a stout form, but his legs were a little longer than those of a stout being. His meaty head folded into multiple drowning wrinkles at the back, quite visible through his low cut, while the front was adorned with a flat forehead. He had an annoying face and though it was stuffy in the car, he was sweating an unusual amount. And you should take this from a perspiration king. The man kept interrupting my thoughts and study till I was but a hair’s breadth from throttling him. The usual Nigerian men move I get came not so long after. “Ah, why are you ignoring me na. Do you know if you are my wife?” To that, I just sighed in exasperation. Next line “Lemme get your digit na, so we can talk more ehn nne?” He said. I said no. He asked why? I told him I didn’t want to. But if we meet again and he asks, I promise I would give it to him. He took it hard. As a mean brush off. I was too exhausted to care about his feelings and I was praying that he would be one of those never-see-him-again incidents. He tried to pay my transport fare, I declined. He seemed genuinely hurt, I found it hilarious. I dropped at karu roundabout to get some fruit, mr man dropped right after me and was asking for my name and number till I took a bike and left him there. Thinking through my fog of hunger and exhaustion, I wished never to see him again.

My life can be a little dramatic. I have learnt to expect it. So when I took a bus to nyanya bridge a few weeks later and saw him on it, I was not surprised. I sat behind him, thankful I had changed my hairstyle and I still had a facemask on. No words were exchanged until I dropped at karu bridge instead and he did the same. We walked up the road to the hill, he in front and I in tow. Until I stopped a bike, he turned and said to me, “ah my friend”, and he waved. I waved back, happy to have the bike guy zoom off. Thinking to myself, “whew. That was close. Thank God he did not ask for number.” And I secretly blamed my glasses for interrupting my covert mission, he would not have recognised me without then. Putting it as an e don happen and he has missed it episode, I continued my daily attempts to stay sane and stable in this country.

On this day, I left work early because of a splitting headache and as I stepped out, I glimpsed at some serious clouds forming. Again, I prayed for a ride home, and fast before the rain. A green and grey beat-up Volkswagen stopped in front of me. Karu-jikwoyi said the blurry man in the front passenger’s seat. I got in second. And just as the third passenger entered after me, the driver turned and our eyes met. Two pairs of eyes widened in surprise but there were no words. He simply said, “hold your change.” I wanted to cackle right there. But I kept my eyes on the road and occasionally on my phone, I was texting a friend. The journey was bumpy and loud. There was a nonstop blast of an Igbo band singing praises. On a good day, I would have enjoyed the groove and just looked at the hills and humans but that was not a good day.

I was thinking about so many things.

What if this guy was a spirit.

What if he kidnaps us.

What if he is harbouring some injured pride or bruised ego and wants to settle scores. What if he is a good person I was too mean to meet?

In response to these troubling questions, I took out my phone and started typing this story. I reached my destination before I finished the first part. I stretched my 500 naira note to pay him and he hesitated, turned, gave me a strange look, then collected the money. He was still sweating profusely. He still had those thick folds on his meaty head. His face had become less annoying though. Perhaps it’s because I saw it two more times than I thought I would ever.

You are welcome to my travel series. I would love you to explore this country with me through public transport. I love how much I have been able to watch strangers and think up all these random things. It is a great comic relief. And helps with description too.

Love, Ballie💖



Balpolam Idi

Live, Love, Give. But most importantly, Dream. Learner. Teacher. Wanderer.