I had bought an orange to work on my vitamins, and was eating one on the matatu going home. I had gotten into this one after a weird bargain with the driver that also doubled up as the conductor that went a bit like;
Him: yo, get into my ma3, that one ain’t even from around
Me: well, I ain’t from around. (Haha)
Also me: okay okay. dude, it’s empty
Him: we wait for no man!
Me: I have 20 tho’ (I always save 10/- for a cigarette)
Him: no thirty!
Me: boss, corona
He hesitates. At this moment I wanted to be a bit dramatic and twist my ~neck~ head in a Sarah Hassan manner (in Plan B), but he said:
I got in. There was a hot dame at the seat he had directed me to but seeing as she had earphones on, i decided to go for my favourite sitting position – the lone seat behind the conductor’s. I have an unwritten rule, to never cause any ruse with a girl with earphones on. I was actually the second person to get in, hence the bargaining.
The matatu actually filled up way quicker than I’d expected. And we promptly paid the conductor, the rest 30 bob while I 20 bob. I saved a 10bob and enjoyed a short moment of sweet triumph at a chance to get a finger closer to my death.
The driver was soon vrooming away, and I was looking out the window, like in an rn’b song, while raindrops attacked the window pane. It was a peaceful moment. Perfect, were it not for the Sauti Sol jam playing in the large radio stereo.
It had been a minute since I’d played a Sauti Sol track, I’d seen something like a movie trailer on my YouTube scrolls but was pursuing something else at the time and couldn’t care less.
The car rolled on.
Then was flagged down by a bystander. It was nearly curfew time, so though it was well full as per MOH recommendations, we had to let everyone in, and save them from GOK.
Then we saw the need and importance of a conductor. The pedestrian tried to open the door to no vail, despite instructions from the driver. The woman seated at the door tried, the man next to the woman tried, it wouldn’t bulge. I looked on. In innocent wander.
There was a man behind me; he had a maroon face mask on. The kind that was quickly assembled and strung by a pied piper. The kind that worked nonetheless. He shot straight to the door, expertly hit a rib of the door strategically at which it rose to life and slid open at his gentle pull. He had immediately saved the situation. The driver was thankful. The pedestrian got in and his face lit up, he sat beside me. The young man and woman who’d failed at opening the door beamed a smile with a sigh of relief, they had seen Jesus, John Gotti in the flesh.
I snuck a quick peak at him. He had on his conductor uniform; no wonder he was that good at opening shut doors. An off duty conductor who’d seen the helplessness of matatu occupants nerved out by both the cold and the impending curfew that traslated to whooping by the cops or forceful detention.
He was our superman without a cape.
In that moment, the lyrics of the Sauti Sol featuring Soweto Choir started to make sense. They seemed to awaken from us, a responsible sense of duty.
Out in the street hustlin’
Shoes out wearin’ an’
Hair growing out edgy
M’nails dirty, mind edgy,
Ain’t been a sleep in days,
Switchin’ rolling papers wid paper
The dream is to stack.
Ain’t funny how,
The peoples I’m spending my time,
My freedom, my dreams an’ e’rything for,
Will turn around an’ say I steal from ’em,
People been carrying on m’back,
Be turnin’ around an’ be snitchin’ on me
Been trynna cop a mansion, now, I have to cop cars,
In my ascension to glory. Love, freedom, is it worth,
The scars, sleeping while on my spot, drugging,
Myself so I don’t slip, keeping, a burner on me,
So my niggas don’ catch my spot, is it my,
Responsibility to balance it all?
Aiding my niggas, who be spending nights,
Coiled up on they thin mattresses in hungried tummys,
Spending crying nights,
Over my niggas, slitting wrists in the morns,
Puking alcohol out a night later, an’ choking,
A hoe’s throat to, feel loved, or
To feel at least a thing.
Putting a hard hand,
One over a nigga’s mouth, a foot over his face,
And another hand in to his pockets,
To grab a phone to sell or,
A thing to buy, a thing to eat.
But I keep askin’ the self,
How much more, of myself,
Will I retain after,
I’m done seeking identities with these niggas.