If you’re like me, you wonder why you can’t just have a smooth ride to and from work devoid of drama.
Take one typical day, for instance. You look around with a frown on your face in search of the Zoomlion truck that must’ve come to pass without your noticing it. These frantic efforts to locate it come to naught, as it dawns on you that the foul odour is right from within the rickety trotro taking you to work. You’re hot, you’re flustered and now you can barely breathe. The smell, disgusting as it may be, has a familiar stench to it: someone has broken wind of the silent killer variety. As you gasp for fresh air you begin to pick out suspects, an amateur Sherlock Holmes on a mission. For whatever reason, you suspect that young man in a suit and wire-rimmed glasses. His seemingly cool demeanour in the midst of this gaseous attack can mean only one thing. You’ve had enough, and you think to yourself, “for how long, Lord?” That’s right, it’s the daily commute.
And does this sound familiar? The piercing rays of the merciless African sun are beating right through the window panes, as if they were looking for something deep within your skull. The window that’s open to your left, that is. The one to your right is jammed shut. Not even Schwarzenegger in his day could move that thing. At one side is a fat lady struggling with two carrier bags, at the other side is a woman with a baby who won’t stop crying, and in between his tearful bouts, his nose is running so badly and his mother is wiping it with her bare dirty fingers. You’re in a Benz 207, seating four on a row. You happen to be the unlucky one who has the seat next to the foldable one, and you have to awkwardly balance one buttock (?) on each side of the torn seat, since one is higher than the other. As you fume and stare out of the window, you see that junior whose food you used to eat back when you were in Secondary School driving by in a Toyota Corolla with a ‘10’ number plate. Patience is flying out of the window. You endure the choking fumes from the bus, mixed with what you suspect is the mate’s armpits, but when the trotro grinds to a sickening halt and refuses to start a few metres away from the 37 Military Hospital, you’ve had enough. Let them keep the money. You stomp out of the contraption and find a taxi, regretting the day you first boarded a trotro.
The thing is, there are thousands of great stories in every trotro. Always. And each of them is unique. They make us smile, they make us angry, and some just leave us plain bewildered. Painful as some of them may have been while the story was being enacted, we learn to look back at them and have a good laugh. But the thing is, tomorrow, just like I saw written on the inside of a trotro, “you’ll be back”.