There were only two passengers – an elderly man who was occupying the front passenger seat and I – when the taxi took off from the station. Just as the driver negotiated the first turn after the station, we saw a man waving hysterically at the taxi to stop. He kept looking behind as he motioned the car with his right hand to stop; he yielded his briefcase in the other hand. He was incompletely dressed; all his buttons were undone, his trouser, with the flap was not closed, was sagging below his waist with his Chelsea branded boxer shorts in full glare of the public.
“What could be wrong with this man?” I thought aloud. “Don’t pick him”, I told the driver. But the elderly man thought otherwise. “It seems he is being pursued by someone”, he explained.
Just after the elderly man spoke, a woman came running towards the man. Although her voice was difficult to hear because the glasses in the car were rolled up, we could tell that she was having an altercation with the man. She caught up with him and landed a few slaps on his face. He also got some punches on his chest. The woman’s actions made the driver’s decision pretty easy. The man needed salvation. The taxi driver pulled the car over right in front of the poor man, I instinctively pushed the door open for him, he jumped in almost immediately and the car took off, leaving the angry woman who would not stop screaming after the car. It was like an action movie scene. Everything was smooth.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for saving my wife. You have done very well otherwise I would have beaten her to pulp this morning”, the man who had just been at the receiving end of insults, slaps and punches bragged amidst heavy breathing. The rest of us could not help but laugh. The proud man in his early forties went on about how he had pity on her and how he was too much of a gentleman to beat a woman.
As we listened and laughed at this man who was now buttoning up his shirt and tucking in properly, the taxi driver pulled over again. I noticed that a couple had stopped the taxi and while we waited for whomever of the two of them was joining us, they were both busily hugging passionately.
“Thanks, boo. You made Valentine’s worth it”, the lady said as the gentleman sat in the car. “I love you!!!” She said after the car as it moved forward again.
“Wow! These two must really be in love”, I thought to myself as I compared the latter couple to the former. I began to wonder what it would have been like if I had a wife or a girlfriend. I did not complete my thinking when the young man who looked like he was in his mid-twenties retorted, “Awooo… Medi nkwasiasem (I have been a fool)”, as he searched through his pocket as though something was missing. “Jesus! This girl is a crook”, he continued under his breath.
“What is the problem?” The elderly man in front asked. The gentleman related his story about how he took a loan of five hundred Ghana Cedis to take his girlfriend out. According to him, he spent two hundred and fifty Ghana Cedis on shopping for her, two hundred Ghana Cedis on an expensive dinner but now he had only ten Cedis in his pocket. He suspected that the lady took forty Ghana Cedis off his fifty Cedis balance. “She prevented me from seeing the Promised Land mpo”, the young man who was very close tears concluded. The rest of us laughed hard at his concluding statement.
“Charley, you are lucky you got a hug on your way out. Let them tell you the condition under which I entered this taxi,” the third man to enter the car said to make us laugh even harder. “After everything thing I did for my wife yesterday, she almost killed me this morning because she saw a text message a lady sent to me yesterday to wish me a happy Valentine’s. I don’t even understand these women anymore. So can’t I receive flirt SMSes anymore?” We laughed more.
While we were at it, the taxi driver looked at us through the driver’s mirror and commented, “Wait till your wife clashes with your concubine on Valentine’s day. It’s only then that you know real trouble. Since 7AM yesterday when the clash happened, I have not set foot in any of my two homes. I slept in this car. Can you imagine?” This attracted another laugh in unison from all the men in the car except the man in the front seat.
As if we were remote-controlled, everyone stopped laughing and looked at the man. “What?” He asked. “What is your Valentine story? What happened yesterday or this morning?” The driver asked him.
“Hmmm…” the man sighed heavily. “Well, nothing happened yesterday or this morning. But something happened five years ago that makes me hate Valentine’s Day”. There was a deafening silence in the car. Our ears were itching to hear the man’s story. I hated him for his dramatic posture. He increased the suspense by taking off his glasses and wiping tears, I suppose, from his eyes. Finally he spoke, “I found my wife in bed with my best friend on Valentine’s day”.
“Jesus!” “Chai!” “Shit!” “Yehowa!” These were the responses that followed the revelation.
There was another prolonged silence in the taxi until I mustered courage to say sorry to the man. I regretted doing that as all the men turned to me for my Valentine’s Day story. I smiled at them as recalled the past 24 hours in flash. My smile even got broader when I compared my experience with all that I had heard and witnessed in the past twenty minutes. Then I said, “Blessed is the man who has a lonely valentine for he shall know peace the day after valentine”.