Some buses are reserved for the strong

ONE thing l like about Tanzania is that usually there is no dull moment, because everywhere you go, you are likely to come across some sort of entertainment.

That is why a smart Alec somewhere said that if you have stress, it is of your own making, and that you can create your own dull moment.

A few days ago, l received a phone call when l was at Zakayo’s Pub, my local watering hole, trying to convince the old man Zakayo that soon my pockets will be lined with real money so he should allow me to drink on credit.

The old fellow was looking at me as if l had suddenly grown horns on top of my head and told me that unless l paid my debt, l should get out as soon as possible.

When the phone call came, I was in the process of checking for my balance in my bank account, although l knew that the money that was there was not enough to convince a cheap prostitute.

The person on the other end told me that he was in Mpanda in Katavi region, and that if l wanted to bid farewell to my poverty, l should make a point of hauling my fat tummy there quickly.

In other words, the fellow told me that there was a new company which was hiring veterans like me, and my name was mentioned several times, which means that they really wanted to hire me.

My mind went to my measly paycheck I receive every month, and l thought of my arrogant boss who believes that a grown man like me can survive on ugali and matembele for a whole month without suffering from malnutrition, and l decided to board a bus the next day.

Of course, my dear wife, the mother of my small clan, popularly known as Mama Boyi was against it, but l convinced her that by the time l was coming back, her status in the community will change.

“Mama Boyi, unless you and the children want to continue feeding on greens and boiled cassava like livestock then you should allow me to go, because from what they told me, people will put ‘boss’ before mentioning my name,” l told her.

Early the next day l was aboard a bus heading to Katavi, although the words of a scrawny fellow at the bus stand kept haunting me.

“Chief, from Dar to Katavi takes more than 20 hours, it still beats me why a smart man like you with a healthy kitambi decides to compete with poor people instead of taking a flight, because I know you can afford it,” he told me.

When l made a booking through the phone the other day after someone gave me the number of the bus company, the young fellow on the other side assured me that their bus is the best on that route, so I had nothing to worry about, because the bus was ‘lakshari’.

There was nothing luxury about the bus, if anything it was quite the opposite, because apart from the fact that there was no air conditioning in the bus, the seats were crampy and very uncomfortable.

Drama started a few hours after we left Dar. I was dozing peacefully, dreaming that I was inside a flashy car with my names reading on the documents, when someone bumped on my right shoulder.

I cursed loudly because apart from the rude act, l was mad when my dream evaporated into thin air, just when I was about to start my brand new car.

It was a young chap who was dashing to the front of the bus, where he frantically begged the driver to pull over, all the time clutching his stomach.

I don’t know what the fellow had eaten before leaving his house, because it was obvious that he had a severe case of diarrhea.

It took several minutes before the chap returned to the bus, and l could notice thin swear running on his forehead.

For those of you who are planning to travel to Katavi in the near future, then you should know that those busses operate like daladalas, because by the time we reached Morogoro, almost 12 passengers were standing on the isle.

I was seated next to a woman who was holding a child who looked like his father, who was not in the bus. I was worried at first because the child who had a face of a veteran boxer kept staring at me as if he wanted to punch my face, and l realized that is exactly what he wanted to do when a few minutes later when l was dozing he gave me a healthy smack on the face.

I nearly threw that child out of the window, on a serious note, and his mother knew it too.

By the time we were leaving Dodoma, the bus was filled to capacity, and next to my seat an old woman was sitting on a bucket, chewing on anything she laid her hands on, from boiled eggs and maize to fat chapatis and peanuts.

After running out of things to chew on, she drifted off to sleep, and she was so full that she thought my thigh was a perfect pillow for her as she started snoring like a malfunctioning generator, releasing air loudly at the same time.

The bus driver and his conductor, a fat woman who resembled a retired sumo wrestler did not get along, and on several occasions, they nearly exchanged blows.

When we reached Tabora l was ready to murder someone, but things got worse when the old chewing woman was replaced by a dirty old man who stood over me on the isle, talking loudly on his phone.

The retired sumo wrestler was irritated and wanted to throw him out because he was causing a major disturbance, but we soon learned that he was the uncle of the driver.

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