The trotro (bus) stop was crowded herh! Would-be passengers were fighting for space with pedestrians and hawkers were conducting brisk business by the sidewalk. A man sold CDs and DVDs of pirated music and movies in an obscure wooden structure; he was blasting music that must have been over 140 decibels. Any attempt to escape the loud music meant walking through the thick smoke coming from the abotsie seller’s open flame grill. Not to talk of sweaty biceps rubbing against my clothes and exposed arms, the stench from one woman’s extremely smelly, arid and over worn synthetic weave and stinking armpits of more than a few.
I mean it was close of day, what did I expect? Talking about the time, how did I get here at this time of evening when the whole of Accra was in a rush to get home. Oh yeah, I was from a studio recording. Being a background vocalist meant sometimes staying at the music studio for long hours. For this particular gig, there were many songs to be completed and since I wasn’t willing to return the next day to complete the songs, I opted to stay in order to finish up. I didn’t realize it was getting dark outside. “I should have left before everyone closed and now look at me, having to be here at this time” I murmured.
The loud music, choking smoke, smelly armpits and all that were the least of my worries though. Everyone was tired and just wanted to go home. Tempers were high and patience was quickly running out plus it wasn’t too safe being out there at a time when pickpockets moved as swiftly as ones shadow.
One trotro arrived and everyone made a run for it, of course I run along hugging my hand bag tightly to my bosom for safety. I got there and my brothers and sisters; chale, the struggle was real. Come and see old men and women fighting for space with young men and women, an enactment of the Ga adage “yoomo b3 Ga” to wit: Accra is no place for the old. Indeed it was a survival of the fittest as only a few were able to enter the bus after the struggle.
This chasing down of trotros went on about 5 different times after that and I still had not even reached the door of one trotro. As the traffic became heavier, I spotted a 23-seater sprinter approaching and decided I was going to get on board by hook or crook. Fortunately for me, the bus stopped just a few metres from me. In about 5 seconds, I was already at the door of the trotro. I could feel the crowd behind me, pressing against me as I hopped onto the bus with a triumphant smile. Before the bus moved, I heard someone outside pleading with the mate to create space for him. He wasn’t going all the way to Kasoa.
I almost peed in my pants “Ka.. what?!” Oh Lord, I was aboard the wrong bus. I live at Dansoman, what on earth was I going to do at Kasoa at this time of the evening? Just to be sure, I asked the mate where the bus was going. He confirmed my fears (rather rudely). I quickly got off and the other passenger gratefully got on board. After standing at the bus stop for about 15 minutes more, I heard the refrain “DansOman! DansOman!! Last Stop!!!” I frantically flagged down the trotro and as it slowed to a halt. My brain issued another command: “Run” so I did.
I got to the bus and confirmed with the mate that it was really going to Dansoman. As I got on board, expecting people to tug on my clothes, there was nothing. I looked back and everyone else was looking the other way, looking out for another bus going to Kasoa. The mate called out for several more minutes and still no one joined the bus to Dansoman. So this whole crowd was mostly going to Kasoa.
I couldn’t help but think to myself as the bus I sat in moved. Wow, I had been fighting the wrong battle for so long. All this while I had been chasing someone else’s dream. That’s a lot like life; sometimes we impatiently follow the crowd and just because everyone is doing it, we also fight to do it.