I ‘met’ the Almighty in a bus at Aflao – Part 2
There is certainly in their stories a lesson for those imbued with understanding…(Quran 12: 111)
Having been used to some uncommon cultural predilections of Ghanaians in Accra, I quickly put on my cap of contemplation and intuition. I wanted to know whether the theory I had developed during the last one year and indeed years before was going to be invalidated that day or not. In other words, close interactions with ordinary Ghanaians had led me to the conclusion that Ghanaians are like ‘angels’ in ways many Nigerians are not. They exemplify such characters as fortitude, forbearance and grit in their dealings with one another in the public sphere that cannot but occasion your admiration if not amazement. Ghanaians I have interacted with sometimes display such patience and taciturnity that the untutored could describe as imbecility and idiocy.
Thus after waiting for about thirty minutes for the driver during which period I had reached the difficult but most reasonable decision not to show the Nigerian in me by offering a whimper or a word of exasperation for the unconscionable action and delay caused my co-passengers by the driver through his disappearance, I eventually heard something like a ‘protest’ from the co-passenger to my right. He looked backwards towards the office of the bus company into which the driver entered over thirty minutes before then as if that would cause the driver to stage an appearance. But having failed to catch sight of the latter, the passenger ‘exclaimed’ saying “Eh!”.
Yes. The ‘loudest’ word of discomfort, the most strident discourse of disapproval that ordinary Ghanaians are wont to offer in situations such as we found ourselves on that day was that one word “Eh!”; not words of imprecation or profanation; not expletives or obscenities the like that you would hear in the underground, among area boys and others who have been raised to cherish indecencies and vulgarities. For close to forty-five minutes, all the passengers in the bus bore the ‘trial’ or rather the discomfort of being held, as it were, hostage to the contumelious and cavalierly treatment the driver was meeting to us all with equanimity. It felt as if they all trusted the driver. It felt as if they were all sure that he would eventually come; that he had actually not forgotten us; that he was going to come and discharge his duty to them, to us all!
It was at that ‘magic’ moment that our circumstance as passengers on that bus on that day began to take a different trajectory in my cognition. Suddenly it dawned on me that the bus was not an ordinary bus anymore but a ‘training school’. The subject we were being taught that day was patience with the Almighty. It dawned on me that the bus in which we were all seated, awaiting its departure to its destination was actually not an ordinary bus anymore but the world, your world and mine. Though we all had a generic destination- Accra, the point crystalized in my cognition that Accra, just like our world, bears different ‘tastes’ and offers different ‘pictures’ to different people; that the Accra I was heading to was different from the Accra of this other woman who probably lives in Madinah, in the backwaters of the city. The ‘Accra’ I was heading to happened to be a University campus- a pseudo-paradise where beauty and aesthetics interpellate, where order and decorum held sway. The “Accra” my co-passenger was heading to was Tudu where life subsisted in an open space, under the sun, where you eat simply because you work, where the young and the old constantly forge a competitive but productive union on the bucolic pathways of that space all in the attempt to make a living. While the total cost of the wares he sells around Tudu was less than ten dollars, seated in a shop is the other woman whose business runs into thousands of dollars!
And the driver? Yes. By waiting patiently and without complaints for him, the driver became a figure of the divine. All the drivers in the bus knew that the driver had not forgotten them; that he could not have forgotten us. I said ‘Yes’! How beautiful would it be for us all to wait patiently for the Almighty the same way we waited patiently and without complaint for the driver that day. We were all certain the driver had not forgotten us. But how come we conduct ourselves in relation to the Almighty as if we think He had forsaken or abandoned us? Is it not true that each you go to that man to lodge a complaint about the downturn in your business, the promotion that had taken sometime to come, the disappointment you met in your contract pursuits, you are actually complaining about the Almighty who put you in the ‘bus’, in the world, without your choice or input?
Yes. Is it not true that this world is indeed a ‘big bus’ headed for a particular destination? Minutes before we got to Accra, some of my co-passengers had to alight from the bus. They alighted from the bus once they reached their own destination. In other words, while the given ‘destination’ of the bus was Accra, each passenger had his or her own actual ‘destination’. People disembark from the bus, the bus of the world immediately they reach their individual destinations. How did they make a choice of that destination? When? Why? These are questions Ramadan seeks to call our attention to- that answers to them lie with the Almighty, the Owner of the ‘bus’, of this world and the ‘passengers’ in it. Brother! Where you are seated today therefore is nothing but a temporary seat! The bus is on a journey. Prepare for arrival. Prepare for landing!
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