I have a friend called Thaddeus. He is a mean bitter and nasty piece of work who is always complaining about something or the other. The other, in this case, was a trip we had to take to Wandegeya recently. We stood at the taxi stage and waited.
Thaddeus said: “I hate...” then looked to his left, where the people who would be our fellow travellers stood, also waiting, and sneered “... pregnant women in public transport.” What?: At first I was shocked to hear this, then I remembered who had said it and instead became shocked that I had never heard it from him before.
“It’s cheating, don’t you see? And not just for the obvious reasons, i.e. those are two passengers getting by for the price of one, but because they are all fat and they eye your food with such potent greed in their eyes. You cannot swankle your popcorn in peace if there is a pregnant passenger next to you. She might lunge and bite your fingers off and use their nutrients to nourish her unborn child and you will never see them again...”
“Pregnant women don’t ride taxis, Thaddeus,” I pointed out patiently just as a white Corolla rolled up. Its passenger door opened and the mother-to-be climbed in. “It’s dangerous for the baby.” “Then why was she standing there at the stage with us threatening to bite our fingers?” Thaddeus sneered.
But Now: “Look, here comes a bus,” I said, eager to change the topic. “Shall we take this instead of a taxi?” “I hate buses,” Thaddeus said, as we climbed aboard the bus.
“They are supposed to decongest the public transport system, but they are the most crowded of all. So full of people standing with their arms upraised and their armpits exposed. One day, I had to take a bus to Luzira Prison, which, as you know, is congested and unhygienic, but as soon as I got onto the bus, I felt as if I had already reached.”
“What were you going to do in Luzira prison?” I had to ask. “Sometimes I just feel like taunting criminals. It’s a hobby,” he replied. And More: “You know what makes these buses even more crowded?” he continued. “Maalo. That thing you Ugandans have where you get all excited about new things and feel like you must try them out. This means that the buses are not only stuffed with the smellier members of our society, the ones who do the hard, menial more odour-inspiring labours of our economy, but even those who make all the money off the backs of the poor end up on the buses.
They park their Prados, Harriers and even their Spacios in malls and then set out to joyride on the bus! Now the smell of sweat is mingled with the smells of whatever cologne their sugar mummies gave them that they thought was from Italy but is actually from China. This mix blooms through the bus’ and fills it.
How on earth is anybody supposed to enjoy their popcorn amidst such hellish stenches?”
But Then: It was my turn to say something now. “You know what I hate, Thaddeus?” I said. “I hate it when people eat popcorn with their mouths open, especially on public transport.” “Now you are just being petty,” he sneered.n
First published in Discovery Magazine (Sunday Vision) June 24, 2012: Vision Group Resource Centre