Have you ever boarded a matatu with the windows closed and a passenger eating groundnuts the whole trip?
Where your knees buckle and you fidget because the engine is heating up and the man seated next to you is listening to a song on his, Bird, phone and chewing gum like it’s sugarcane?
Well, do not worry, maybe you can imagine that you were with me at that time, feeling so uncomfortable but thinking, ” I can’t wait to get home and blog about this!”
I was in Nyakach, which is one of the six sub-counties in Kisumu, visiting a school. Once my work was done and report had been compiled, I stood by the road for fifteen minutes before flagging down a matatu, which turned out to be a Sirareline Shuttle.
I paid, one hundred and fifty shillings as fare (that’s roughly $1.55 ) and sat comfortably for ten minutes before the driver stopped to pick another passenger who squeezed beside me. So, now we were four people in a seat designated for three.
Three minute later, ( I know this because I was listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call me Maybe’) and the driver stops to pick another passenger. The tout gives up his seat and he squeezes in with us such that we are five people now. A woman with a basket at the far end on the driver’s side, a man with a phone on speaker mode, me, a shepherd, and the tout.
We take turns leaning in so that we do not rub shoulders.
Sitting in between two men whose shoulders are wide is a nightmare, I was constantly fighting the urge to smoothen their shoulder bones.
When we get to Ahero, the driver speeds past the council toll booths with the intention of not paying the council parking service fee and as such he cannot drop off passengers or pick up any in the town’s bus stop, so what does he do?
He speeds past two bumps before stopping to let passengers alight.
The man and the shepherd get off, and I am left with the woman and her basket. I look her way and notice she has been nibbling away at groundnuts and hence the scent that filled the matatu.
She keeps popping groundnuts into her mouth and I wonder why she is not thirsty or tired of eating them. I have never been a nuts person ( nuts, as in groundnuts, why am I defending myself?) and seeing her eat nuts like that makes me wonder how it would be for me.
So, the driver misses the next six bumps as we enter Kisumu and I cannot help but thank God for arriving home safe.
I look back at the other passengers but none of them has the look of relief, it’s as though they are used to such driving and their main concern is to do what they have to do and get back home.
If I ever find myself aboard a Sirareline Shuttle again, I will do my best to secure a seat next to the window, just so I can let some fresh air in.