If you have never had to travel long journeys by bus that right there is the third highest form of privilege. The first two are a whole story for another day.
Uganda Blogging Community is having us do the #ChainStoryChallenge and I thought it a good time to write about the craze that comes with traveling by bus.
As was the drill I woke up before the sun left her abode, I didn’t look at the clock but it must have been 4a.m heading to 5. The night before I’d packed up a week’s clothes in my small leather back pack and reminded my “Boda guy,” Sula to pick me up at 5a.m. After warming my chest with a steamy hot cup of tea with scanty sugar, I decided to call Sula.
“The number you have dialed cannot be reached at the moment, please try again later”
My sister once told me that, that squeaky voice every time you can’t be connected is the mother of miss fortune, a sign that the skies were going to be against you. But again I am not the kind to wallow in superstition so I picked up my back pack and made my way to the bus pack. It was a cold morning and the fog was still sitting in the air. I held tightly to my bag, ignored all the weird sounds and walked down the lonely road, anxious like a bride walking down the aisle. I kept bumping into small groups of traders who I presumed were rushing to go collect the morning stock and other lone wolves strolling about in that cold morning. “Why would anyone be comfortably strolling at 5a.m?” I wondered- but soon flashed away the thought and continued trekking.
“Sister, Noza Kampala” and a throng of people carrying suitcases and sisal bags welcomed me to the pack. I wasn’t in any hurry to wrestle with the rest because I’d booked my sit the night before. The constant rubbing against bodies and possibility of losing property during such struggles wasn’t something I was willing to gamble with.
As I stood there scrolling through my phone and gallivanting about the internet for any kind of “breaking news,” someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to find a man possibly in his thirties that was now trying to remove my back pack from my back.
“Sister ija nkutware ha swift, turiyo nitugyenda” (“Sister, come and I take you to Swift (another bus) , we are leaving now”)
By now the sun was trying to push it’s way through the thickness of the clouds and my back was beginning to ache from all the standing. The people getting into the bus had reduced and I was only waiting for one of the hawkers to bring my bushera before I board. The well meaning man insisted “sister, turiyo nitugyenda.”
I swang my arm away from his grip and turned to the hawker who had now brought my bushera ,received it and made my way into the bus.
As I climbed up to the bus, I was welcomed by mixed scents. An old man on the seat next to the door, probably in his 60’s, motioned to let me know that the seat next to him was not taken, but I politely declined. I continue down the bus corridor, occasionally having to jump over luggage and squeeze between people that were trying to fit their bags into the shelves. I finally reached my seat, seat number 38 in the two seat row of the bus. A young, somewhat corpulent woman, with a strikingly light skin complexion was seated in my seat. I stood above her and in my “survival” Runyankole requested that she excuse me since I’d booked the seat at the window. Goretti, as I later found out her name was, raised her brows, then moved her eyes vertically as if to have a full view of the person trying to take “her” seat. She then mumbled something in Runyankole that I didn’t understand.
After about 10 minutes of fruitless back and forth I finally settled for the seat towards the corridor and had to bare with the constant body rubbing and people leaning against me as they put up their luggage.
By now the bus was almost full and it was coming to 7a.m. The constant yelling from the passengers and bus crew as they loaded their luggage and awkward smells that kept biting at my nose was all I needed to know that this was going to be a long journey. I plugged in my headsets to shut out the world and escape the reality of having to sit next to someone that had taken my comfortable window seat and the fact that I had to walk to the bus park because Sula did not show.
My serenity was cut short by a deep voice directly above my head that jolted me back to reality;
“Sister, Shashurira ticket yawe”
I unzipped my back pack to get out my money purse. I moved my hands around to try to feel for it in between the folded clothes but couldn’t find it. So many thoughts were rushing through my mind at this point but I decided to take in a deep breath and continue searching.
The lean, tall man in his blue overall (which all members of the crew wore) was growing impatient. He looked down at me and spoke, this time in English, “Sister pay for your ticket”
I looked at him perturbed by everything. How..why was this happening? I remembered- packing my red purse. What did I do to deserve this? Could it be…. no it couldn’t.
“By now – Goretti, the bus conductor and some of the passengers had all turned their attention to me…”
TO BE CONTINUED.
I struggled to put this together and would really love to see where it proceeds from here. I know many of us have traveled by bus and have a thing or two to say.
Has this ever happened to you while traveling? if yes… how did you go about it?
Also passing by to inform you that July is UgBlogMonth at Uganda Blogging Community and you can read all about how to be a part here.
Bellows of love
©Tales of a Curious mind