It was 7pm Francis was sweaty, gunky hands and coated in exhaust fumes and dust. He had only worked for three hours but was worn out already. “Gari iko chrome!” Swaleh yelled gesturing with his hands; making a fist with a yanking motion, then hit the side of the bus.
Francis engaged the gear and hit the accelerator and maneuvered through traffic leaving a trail of hooting motorists and cursing pedestrians. It is not that Francis didn’t care about the other motorists, he no longer saw anyone else on the road.
His work driving a PSV bus was mechanical, boring and the only time he had decent entertainment was between 4 and 6pm when the sexy office vixens sat next to him flashing their thighs and manicured nails. And oh! Did these women smell fantastic, he always wanted to know what the secret was in staying fresh and pristine all day. He smelled like a sweaty baboon within 3 hours of driving a bus, but not the polished office folk!
Today he was stuck with equally smelly passengers, all men who seemed to have an oral hygiene problem, which they seemed to think would be cured with a conversation with Francis. His window was perpetually open despite the occasional drizzles. Bobby McFerrin’s, “Don’t worry be happy!” was playing, Francis choked up and pulled up at stage 30 enroute to Kiriani estate.
He needed to breathe; he was so fed up of his life. He was tired of working from hand to mouth, he wanted more, and he knew he deserved more. His High school certificate wasn’t much to go by, but it was worth something. Anything…..anything but this!
Francis pulled out a cigarette and began to smoke, passengers stuck their heads out of the window hurling insults.
‘Mamako! Unadhani hatuna kazi ya kufanya?” one man yelled from the rear most window in the bus
‘Haya! Kwani what’s wrong with this guy?’ A weaved ghetto ‘fabulous’ looking damsel with a french manicure exclaimed with her JKIA acquired ‘A-meru-can’ accent, while scrolling on her smart phone.
The Swaleh banged the side of the bus yelling at Francis to get in. One or two passengers alighted and an argument ensued between them and Swaleh, they wanted a reimbursement to get another vehicle to their destination. Francis sat by the road side, keys in hand and soaking up the sounds around him. His mind wondered once again.
“We bana! Wacha udo! Tuishie, unaweza bonga na Maisha achukuwe dinga utulie!” The tout, Swaleh, was agitated but was fighting to stay calm despite being hung to dry with a verbally abusive bus load of passengers.
Francis arose from the road side dusted his bottom off and yanked the huge bus door open, sat engaged the gear, hit the accelerator. He turned off the music 50….60….75….80….the speed governor was bleeping incessantly…90….100…110.
Silence suffocated the bus; passengers now silent, ashy fists clenched on seats, eyes’ popping out, silent stares through the window as bus stops turned to sign boards into other towns. Screams could be heard, children crying.
“Unatupeleka wapi?”One man demanded!
“Uuuuwwwiiii!” Screams permeated the bus.
“Sikufi leo!” One young man screamed running to Swaleh who was dumbfounded and seated on the stairs at the bus entrance.