We had to wait a little longer for the bus to fill up before leaving the station. At last! I breathed out a hurrah. I could almost see myself home. And for once there was no ‘javelin crew’ holding on the rails, at least for now. Easy. The misters had so long settled and now people were occupied with their own stuffs.
Couple of minutes out of town, the konda started making rounds collecting bus fares. From the way I looked at him he seemed like a no-nonsense fellow. He had a stern face and his clean shaven head reminded me of Peter Mensah, Oenomaus in Spartacus. He simply reached out his hand and people handed their cash. No words. Counted then gave back change. No words. So when he reached my seat I didn’t waste his time. Being that close I had a second to steal into his eyes and thought I saw red coals. Why be so serious, ninja?
“Halafu wewe utalipia viti mbili!”
The konda roared startling me. I froze and the bus silenced simultaneously. Looking up at him, he was turned towards Mr.S who was openly oblivious, if not surprised.
Lakini zingatia ngeli daddy. Perhaps I should’ve just told him to see him take it on me.
“Mzee, utalipia izo viti mbili umekalia.” He repeated moving past him. Now his eyes were like they’d been set ablaze.
“Viti mbili gani, na mimi nimekalia kiti moja.” Mr.S retorted shifting to fit into his seat. It was actually too small for his masive size thus he overflowed into the next one, leaving only inches of it.
By now the attention of the bus had totally shifted to the ensuing drama. You could taste the curiosity, animosity, amusement, sympathy and an untold fear by a look on their faces in one bite. Frankly humans eyes reveal a lot. Thus I could almost tell the reactions going through their minds. It was more like being in a war arena with people taking their sides. It was still early to tell out the victor though.
“Watu hawangepita hapa wakakalia viti za nyuma kama hungekuwa umekalia zote.” Konda was back at him just as fast. The manner in which he stressed his words with such a solid assurance was an indication enough that he wasn’t ready to go round about his words.
“Sasa mimi siwezi ambia mtu penye aketi.” He heaved. “Walijiskia na za huko nyuma wakazichukua na singewalazimisha waketi kando yangu.” Mr.S was reasoning. “Mimi nalipia tu kiti moja, yenye nimekalia.” He insisted.
The bus partly laughed, partly sighed.
“Mimi sitaki kujua,” he was pointing at him, “Umekalia viti mbili na hata inaonekana.” Laughter. “Utalipia kiti mzee, na tusizozoane.” Loud laughters.
Konda was still taking cash from other customers and his words were swallowed up in the noise. “Uyo jamaa watu hawampendi!” Someone shouted. More outbursts. It was hilarious. Just hilarious. Rude jokes are rare and to get one that fit so well was more than scarce. And being a lover of sarcasm, my amusement was high. Though I can’t tell why I marked the noisemaker as a Mr.Heckler. Hadn’t completely fallen for his joke.
All the while I couldn’t help notice Mr.T was awkwardly quiet. His mate was being fried and he just looked on, heard and did nothing. Unbelievable. Wake up your Royal Highness. In fact he had already paid for his own seat. Enyewe hapa ni Nairobi (We were in the city indeed). And I might have been right to think that something was amiss between these two. Or was Mr.S carrying his own cross? He had made the choice himself anyway. It was pointless looking up to Mr.T for deliverance attempt on his friend. Mr.S didn’t either, apparently. Betrayal at play.
I was staring at Mr.S when the betrayal thoughts came to mind. Having people laugh at him and his situation might have hurt. But nothing might have hurt more than being laughed at in the presence of his friend. So I thought. Watching his dark mass slouched in the seats my heart reached out to him. Might have been right to dislike him on sight and it still wasn’t wrong to sympathize with him.
“Umeamua kulipa ama bado utavutana,” konda was bellowing from the middle of the bus. Such a bully; by all manner he was enjoying his harassments.
“Umejua sio’makosa yako kuwa mkubwa ivo…” he continued, “Sikulaumu lakini itabaki umelipia nafasi umechukua.” Sarcasm leaked out of his voice and he hadn’t meant any of those. I couldn’t buy it.
“Umesema ukweli sio makosa yangu. Si mtu akipanda atalipia basi.” He looked out to the crowd. “Nafasi imebaki ni ya mtu mdogo.” He signed.
Na hii basi yenu mbona haina nafasi ya watu wakubwa. Huh!?
“Wewe usijaribu kuwa mjanja na mimi!” He made like to advance and stopped. “Hiyo nafasi imekuwa ivo’toka tao. Na sasa utalipia sababu ulikuwa umekalia pande io ingine.” Certainly he was losing control and his reasoning.
“Na kama uliiona ikiwa bure mbona ukakubali ikatoka… Mbona hukujaza gari?” The crowd swerved and he was syched up. “Unaona apo ni wewe ndio hukufanya kazi yako.” Now confidently. “Uliacha gari ikatoka stage bure na sasa unataka kuninyanyasa.”
“Mbona hukukubali kuketi na mwenzako?” Pointing at Mr.T. “Ii nafasi si ata ingewatosha.” Konda raised his voice; desperate to match the blow.
“Mimi nilimwambia aketi apa akakataa.” Mr.T joined in.
You scared, nigga go to church!
“Ni mimi kuchagua chenye nataka. Na penye nakalia.” Boldly.
Yes! Tell them.
“Apana, mbona donda akawacha gari ikatoka bure!” It was the heckler first to shift. I saw konda’s face lose a shade. Simultaneously, people joined in, starting with soft murmurs which slowly grew into loud jeers. Konda withdrew and joined his crew at the door. Almost feared he would slap the rest throwing out mocking laughters.
There was now some light on Mr.S’ face. With his spirits on he looked less grumpy. His charm was still on the passengers and one after another spat a curse at the tout.
“Sasa mbona ulipie kiti hujakalia,” the heckler was saying. But I didn’t trust him. Moments ago he had openly humiliated Mr.S. Or maybe he was a spectator now finding a meaning in his voice.
“Sa’ mimi naenda matanga… bado ata sijajua naenda kulala wapi… acha ata kula nini… na hapa naambiwa nilipie viti mbili. nkt!” (How else will I pay yet am headed to a funeral… and ain’t even sure yet of where I’m going to sleep leave alone what I’m going to eat?) Mr.S was telling them and he deliberately raised his voice to the tout.
“Na mbona akawacha gari itoke bila kujaa…” A lady next to the heckler joined in. “Achana na huyu fala hajui kazi yake. Usikubali akusumbue.” (Do not let this useless fool worry you). The bus was getting heated.
By the time konda came back to collect his due every one of us had identified with Mr.S. And there was nothing he could do to win our approval. The battle was lost. Some escorted him with jeers and hushed curses.
Mr.T still remained silent though now less composed. I couldn’t tell how Mr.S’ victory was working on him. Plausibly he felt guilty? Or was he ashamed for not taking part? Obviously he wasn’t the type who spilled out their emotions. So discreet. So thorough. But still awkward.
When things has settled, I started collecting my thoughts:
What was the face of God? And was is it really alright to laugh at Mr.S who was in the clergy? A man of God! Do you remember what happened to the kids who laughed at Prophet Elisha in the Bible? Bears mawled them at Elisha’s command.
Then the malady in me resonates: ‘Don’t give a damn. She be no nun.’ A line that reminded me of an encounter with lady from the sect. Actually it was my crazy friend, Osoro The Nomad, who came up with the line.
We were in a mat which was playing the usual Rambo Kanambos. The lady, in somewhat a nun uniform (dressed as a nun), was seated on the opposite side of the aisle and the crazy video was on, explicit as they always are. Thus I mentioned my concern that these mat guys neither considered PG not the presence of the clergy. But Osoro assured, “Don’t give a damn she be no nun.” The lady must’ve heard us because she turned and gave a long stare. The same scrappy hand worked cross was on her turban. We looked away with muffled laughter. You can imagine my embarrassment. Interestingly, The Nomad was gleaning with childish pleasures.
So now the same Nomadic voice was playing in my mind. My friends, can we be sane?
Mr.S must’ve been very familiar with the act of speaking for yourself as illustrated by Daisy Okoti. I will remember to use this example as a reference on a future post on the topic. In Daisy’s post, she explains how she handled herself out of a similar situation with a tout who wanted she pay more than their nje ya gari agreement before she had boarded. She writes on that were it not for her outspoken nature the konda might have gotten away with her cash. Neither would’ve the rest of the passengers came to her rescue had she just remained quiet. And I believe it’s very true. You can read into the blog to get more insights why you shouldn’t shut up when you need to speak up.
So you see, when you fail to speak up, you give permission for an unintended consequence that could sweep you along with it. Do not keep quiet when you need to speak up.
Well as I was saying, the bus ride turned out not the way I had thought it would. To say I had enjoyed would be in the least of words. So alighting at my hood, I was reckoning that boring places got fun after all. I would’ve missed on this one hadn’t I stayed. And of course this experience is among those I’ve had a difficult time rating as I had explained earlier.
Good evening. See you around on the next read. ☺