I’d choose a direct trotro from Bridge to Ridge any day. Unfortunately, Accra-bound trotros are not as plentiful as I wish they were. That means, more often than not, that I have to take one going to Circle, drop off at the 37 mini-station, and jump into one going my way. Transit takes less than 5 minutes, but still, wouldn’t you rather get a direct trip?
On this particular morning, however, I was grateful for that brief transit. This trotro was of a make I’m unfamiliar with. In fact, it looked like a bus that would’ve been useful to the Russian army in the First World War I’ve been in tiny trotros, but it looked like no consideration whatsoever was made for tall people during the design process of this one. Unfortunately, my staring lateness to work in the face forced me to get into this bucket of bolts. So, along with the other commuters, the journey began, being herded through Accra like cattle.
And it shook. Mightily. My cramping legs felt like they’d been riveted in a bent position. Stretching was such a relief when I limped off at 37.
I looked round for a trotro going to Accra. There was none. At the newsstand I observed curious school children spying half-naked women on the front pages. Before I could ponder what business these kids had reading papers, anyway, I heard it: “Accra, Accra!” I turned. But where was it coming from? Still, I heard it.
And then, I saw her. Her. The caller was a woman? I hesitated. Call it stereotyping, but it just didn’t feel right. If she cared about the stares, she didn’t show it. She wore a T-shirt and trousers on her heavy set frame. Just like all the other mates trying to push the whole world into their cars, she was shouting and waving her hands at nobody in particular. “School boy! Come this way. Accra, going!” she called out. Was she a regular on this route? How come I’d never seen her? And how come I was the only one who seemed shocked at it?
My mind floated to this man who used to sell kenkey at American House. It just seemed odd. Did he prepare it himself? I once bought waakye from a man. He was standing in for his sister or girlfriend or whatever. Needless to say, I wasn’t amused at the clumsy way he scooped the rice. I hope the disgust was obvious on my face as his shaking hand shoveled whole clods of waakye at a go into the polythene bag. I found myself wondering why women sold kenkey and waakye, while men sold check-check. How is our roadside fried rice any different from any rice that the women sell?
My thoughts drifted back to the trotro. I had to get in before I missed this reversal of traditional gender roles in live action.
I was disappointed. It couldn’t have been any more similar to my normal routine. She turned to me, “Yesss.” On hearing that, the man sitting next to me on the second row called out to the driver. Did they know each other? The driver’s smile confirmed they did. There was the customary, “Have you heard from so-and-so?” from the passenger, to which the driver would reply that it had been a while. Obviously, this had only one outcome: the guy wasn’t going to pay.
It happened on cue. The mate was instructed not to collect money from the guy. She wasn’t pleased. Who was this guy who’d outsmarted her just as soon as she was going to make him part with his coins? Of course, the conversation between driver and passenger fizzled out into a flat exchange between two people with nothing to say. The opportunist had had his way.
My careful observation of the female mate was yielding nothing unconventional. Soon, she was nodding in a morning doze. All that was missing was some crude ungentlemanly abuse to show that gender played no part in who qualified to be a mate. I hopped off at Ridge with no hope of getting to work on time.
You can’t imagine my disbelief when I saw a trotro whiz by with another female mate! Two in one day? Now, even I am willing to concede that I was still reeling from the initial shock of seeing a female mate. Surely, lightning couldn’t strike twice in one day.
Perhaps I’m overreacting. On your commute, have you come across a female mate? Did it seem as strange to you as it did to me?
Looking at all the ill-treatment trotro drivers unleash on female private car owners, I wonder what their reaction would be for female trotro drivers. Are we ready?