My steps were confident as I stepped out of the gate for the day’s lawyer’s hustle. Dressed in black suit over my lawyer’s collarless white shirt and in my two hands were my work bag containing my case file, books and stationeries and in the other bag my wig and gown. It had rained all night so I had to navigate through muddy stagnant puddles that dotted the road that led out to the junction where I entered a Keke Marwa to Orile Bus Stop, a famous Lagos suburb from where I could get a bus to Lagos Island.
As usual, Orile was milling with chaotic multitudes and I jumped, tiptoed and meandered through the many puddles dotting the road that held muddy rainwater and taking time to protect my polished black shiny shoes and neatly ironed trousers from splashes of muddy water by motorists and keeping an eagle eye for careless Okada riders (Fashola’s ban on Okada didn’t extend to Orile) who could carelessly send one to the amputation ward at Igbobi.
I crossed the heavy traffic laden 9 lane Badagry expressway which construction was still at snail pace, the famed monorail project still looking the same way it looked the previous year, when I was in Law School. After crossing the first two lanes, I queued up with other people to cross through thin logs of wood placed over some stones as an improvised bridge over a large pool of water beneath the rail tracks.
I carefully but confidently started my crossing when I missed a step. What happened? Nah! Not what you think. I managed to do a Jet Li stunt that saved me from a second bath, 30 minutes after my bath but I was standing in the pool of muddy water my neatly polished shoes and trousers wet. That was my first tragedy for the day, but not bad enough to spoil my hustle.
I joined the melee to get a bus and after shoving, pushing, and jumping while firmly securing my phones and wallet from pickpockets, I managed to secure a space in a bus. My dressing had made it even more difficult and made me more vulnerable to pickpockets. The Monday morning traffic held us for more than an hour. But we made it to the Island before 8 am.
I had sprinted down from the Danfo bus at CMS and walked briskly to cross Marina Road when the sole of my left shoe yanked off. Surprised, embarrassed, flabbergasted, maniacally bewildered (apologies to Hon. Patrick Obiahagbon), I stealthily moved to avoid people noticing that a lawyer’s shoe had betrayed him, such stories could make their way into the newspapers with the admirational hatred of lawyers by Nigerians (though every family wants to produce a lawyer).
The shoe menders helped salvage the shoe the much they could while I hurried of towards CSS Bookshop to keep my date at the Court. You can only dull my swag, but not stop my hustle! It was 8: 25 am when the rains added to my misery. Coming first as slight drizzles, it increased to a fountain of showers by which time I was tightly secured in between two fat ladies in a keke Marwa.
By the time I got to the Lagos High Court at Igbosere Road, everywhere was flooded. I quickly squeezed myself out of the tricycle amidst protest by the female passenger who had gotten down into the flooded road and heavy downpour to make room for me to disembark.
My salvaged shoe was again subjected to severe punishment as I had to run through ankle deep flood water into the Court complex and into the shade of the nearest building. I was wet but not soaked but it didn’t matter. The case file mattered most, luckily it was saved by the sheer ingenuity of holding it against my chest while I ran with my torso bent forward but my ordeal (hustle) had only just begun.
I was headed to the Lagos High Court Annex at TBS and had taken a tricycle going to Obalende through Igbosere instead of TBS. Tricycles going to Obalende enroute TBS had been scarce and with the impending rain, I had no choice than to take a Tricycle going through Igbosere Road and do the rest of the journey on foot. The time was 8:45 am and the court would not wait for anyone.
After securing my file, I made the three minutes dash to the TBS annex. By the time I go there, I was soaked to my briefs but the file was miraculously dry. I was shivering and after drying myself the much I could, I put on my gown over my wet clothes and huddled up in a corner in the court room. I asked myself “is it worth the stress?” The close to two hours journey through mad traffic, the rains, my shoe and the whole stress was just frustrating.
It was our hustle to earn our bread. Being a new wig is a hellish right of passage to success. From this stifling foundation, a super structure is expected to take root; it’s akin to making a gem out of a piece of glass. “Can I survive this?”, I pondered, oblivious of the world around me. “Can I survive this pressure and attain success in this field?” I asked myself.
It was my job, my love and my life. Difficult as it is, I had to bear it and make the best out of it. Welcome to the world of the Naija lawyer, the challenges of the new wig in his rights of passage, his struggles with his profession and experiences. It’s our world, if you are part of it let’s share our experiences and if you are not, this is a chance to know why we act the way we do. Welcome to our struggles.
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