I hadn’t quite envisaged my trip home this way. I was increasingly worried about what my room would look like after the afternoon’s downpour. What bad luck, that on this day that the heavens let it all down in all its destructive glory, I had opened my windows and forgotten to close them. Soon after reaching Spanner Junction to complete my homeward commute, a slight drizzle started, only compounding my worries. The restless crowd I was going to contend with was getting more agitated as bodies got wet. The sound of a trotro was an invitation to a rush of epic proportions. Many months ago, I refused to partake in any such undignified shows of desperation, and decided to wait for a taxi.
A trotro approached, looking to stop right in front of me. A stroke of luck? I could only get out of the way in time to miss Hulk behind me charging at the gate. It was now a stalemate, as the passengers getting out were blocked, and nobody could get in. Perhaps the rain was fuelling tempers. In a flash a young man ran swung his leg through the open back window. The next thing we heard was a long ripping sound. The laughter that followed from stranded commuters diffused the tension. How the young man’s face was one of total calm was beyond me. Poor guy.
I felt bad. After all, I could identify with him only too well. During my student days in Kumasi, I remember being late for a meeting on campus. What made it worse was that I was the one who was leading it, and here I was, my face still puffy from oversleeping and my shirt flying in the wind as I rushed to the bus-stop near the hostel. The first trotro that came looked like it was on a one-way trip to the scrap yard, but I didn’t care.
Two seconds after the bucket of bolts stopped in front of me, I was in, soon to be followed by a bad tearing sound. I looked in horror at my torn cargo trousers, releasing the wretched piece of rusted iron that had thrown £25 down the drain. They happened to be my favourite as well. To add to the cruelty of the whole freak accident my phone started ringing. They were waiting for me for the meeting to start! I resigned myself to my misfortune, kicking myself for not wearing a longer shirt to cover the destruction.
These pieces of jagged metal have caused more trouble to me and others than I dare count. Just like all catastrophes, they always come at the worst moment possible. How do the driver’s mates escape them all the time? It never happens to them.
Just the other day, I found myself sat in the front seat of a Nissan Urvan, enjoying the cool breeze of the George Bush Motorway, headed for Dzorwulu. It was a perfect day. I even found myself humming a happy tune. And then at Fiesta Royale, I froze when I felt a tug at the leg of my trousers. Dear God, please don’t let them be torn, I fervently prayed. It turned out to be a long pull of a thread. A very long pull. The trousers may not have been torn, but they were ruined. Completely. I was suddenly so self-conscious and all the imagined stares made me feel two feet tall. Of course, I didn’t get a hint of an apology from the mate. “Away!” They were gone.
Thankfully, I’ve never experienced the seams of my trousers giving way. On one routine trip to Ridge some time ago, there was this man who was struggling all the way through. He was as tall as me, only about twice as big as I was. I was at the back, adapting quietly on-the-go to the cramped conditions. He was in the second row, and had to get up every few stops to make way for someone to get off.
Just in front of Cal Bank as he got down to make way for a suited banker behind him, his stretched trousers had had enough of this shoddy treatment and split, right at the seam. I winced in embarrassment on his behalf. What a place to suffer this humiliation. I have no idea where his destination was, but I didn’t envy him one bit.
But as for the woman whose waistband was dragged halfway down her thigh by a piece of the seat, I’ll bet she wished the ground would open up and swallow us all whole. She quickly sat down, but the harm was already done.
Trotros can be the worst of servants at the worst of times. Clothes and jagged metal just don’t go together.