I hate Lagos. I know. I always say “Hate” is a strong word. But tell me, what emotion do you feel when you are smothered in the midst of fifteen million people- the mix of odours (and fragrances once in a while), the noise of people, every one of them trying to find his voice, the false airs, the religion, the vice, and the ghetto.
But Lagos is my city, and I probably would not survive elsewhere. I did a few days in what used to be Yobe and I felt like a fish out of water. Abeokuta is sleepy, and Ibadan well, there are no words to describe it. But I know the rhythm of Lagos. I can travel Lagos with my eyes closed. I sleep off in the bus knowing when to open my eyes. I know how the water at Leventis smells, it’s fishy and nauseating. I know when CBD will raid the roadside traders at Idumota. The potholes in Ikeja tell me I’m almost at work. I know everything- Ojota smells like the huge refuse dump that it is, Mile 12 has the permanent smell of rotten tomatoes and now Ikorodu is one huge cloud of dust. Every evening, at my bus-stop I can see from the corner of my eye when an okada man stretches out his hand to tug at my dress. I know how many inches to move without bumping into someone else. I have been doing this since I was thirteen when I started going to school on my own. I have mastered the art of keeping a straight face when I hear lewd comments about my ass. I know this city. I own it, but sometimes, my Lagos likes to spring surprises on me.