6 months ago, 18 Dec 02:17
So this is what happened yesterday. Kasichana Nyar Namchumbi and I walk into the Kisumu stend, dragging our suitcases like we are trying to catch an Emirates flight schedule for 1400hrs. We have just stepped out of the Ka’Akwacha that is located at the stage with a mixture of kwon bel, ojuri, Coca-Cola madiaba and kachumbari laced with teargas feeling at home at the bases of our bellies. We are headed to Homabay, but not in a hurry. This Nyar Namchumbi does not know this our Kisumo very well, so I tell her that we are better off getting into the next matatu ndio we get the ang’owa? The front seats with the driver. Otherwise we would have to be squeezed at the back, packed like matchsticks, forced to share a percentage of oxygen so little you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for Ekuru Aukot’s presidential results. The first matatu fills up in a matter of minutes. Seems like there is a Homabay rush. Passengers start trickling into ours. And that is when it all begins. This manamba comes to our window and demands for fare. Not ask, demand. As if he had told me to pay and I refused. He has a big stupid mouth, whichever way you look at it; takes up too much his face, and it also speaks like it was not trained to. His eyes, red and drowsy, leak secrets of something cheap in his blood stream, and the moment the air from words hit my nostrils, the secrets are confirmed. I give him the six hundred he asks for just so that he can get out of my orbit. A woman comes with two children. She seems to have settled on a bus fare with one of the manamba’s colleagues (you know how there is never just one conductor at a time?). She is supposed to pay 400 bob. She gets in, places her kids on her laps and somehow still manages to occupy only a portion of her seat. When Mr. Manamba goes to collect money from her and she gives her the 400 bob, he returns it to her. “Four fifty mathe, saa rach.” “But I have losod with that jama and you two even listened to one another that I pay 400. Kendo en wach mane?” “Four fifty.” Then he turns to address the rest of the passengers, “This car is only for those ready to travel.” Being ready to travel here means there is no negotiation. “Madam, add me pier abich or you get off.” I mean, look. I get that every job has its own frustrations, but what would it hurt to just ask that woman nicely? I guess it is naïve to expect professionalism from someone who is already drunk at work. The woman and her children alight from the matatu, takes her 400 bob and walks away. I watch her go until beats a corner and disappears into the other side of the stend. Mr. ...
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