This is part two of the tiry journey to school one day…in case you didn’t read it you can get it here.
The day at school went well; despite the ‘Plague of the Not So Common Cold’ and the exploitation of ‘Route 86’ (those are stories for another day) and home time couldn’t have come sooner. I got my friend Mish (remember him from ‘the Princess and the frog?’) and we headed for the stage to get a matatu. It was around 5.30 in the evening. And as expected, the stage was flocked with a lot of people eager to get home; most of who were casual laborers at Industrial Area. They didn’t have much money so they either decided to wait for cheaper matatus or bar anyone from entering any matatu that charge ten shillings above the normal fare of 20 bob. And when the cheap matatu arrived you either join the very intense battle of getting in or stand aside; lest these hefty men maraud you over. It almost happened to a friend of mine Kerry; he’s like Peter Crouch of the England team only shorter. Luckily we helped him get in. Anyway, we were not in a mood for a scramble so we opted to walk ahead, way ahead where some passengers would alight and we would get in for reduced fare.
But just as we were leaving the stage, there was a bit of commotion between two touts as one wanted to reduce the fare and one threatened to beat him up if he did. And the casual laborers ‘cheered’ on in anticipation of a reduced fare. It didn’t take long before the fight started; we were in South B but the rules of fighting in Ngummo still applied because they were Route 33 Ngumo matatus. The rules were two: the first being no one is to try peacemaking while fight went on, or the people fighting will turn on you instead. The second is silence should be observed and commenting is to be done only afterwards. And so we tarried a little, watching them knock the lights out of each other.
Unfortunately, the tout with the cheaper fare won. Yes, unfortunately. For now the tout who wanted to charge more will be laughed at and elicit very very crude comments from the laborers, no matter how red he was with blood; or rather how brown he was with dust. And so as the victorious tout resumed his job we managed to get seats as others fought to enter the matatu.
Funnily enough, we enjoyed the ride, mainly because people from Kibera usually take the most trivial of things and have a forum about it. Almost everyone was commenting on the fight an befriended the tout, telling him ‘Good job. You da man!’ Others gave him pointers on how to fight better next time as the whole matatu laughed the incident off. I call it the Wanjiku effect. Even the tout could afford a smile, with a bruised lip. But that smile was shortlived.
As we approached the final accent to home, the matatu seemed to weaken considerably. It could not climb the hill. “Yes!!” Im sure people said in the hearts. It is somewhat known that people who board Ngummo matatus pray for them to break down midway the journey so that they would get a refund and walk the rest of the way. The matatus were weak anyway, and so this one choked…real hard and stopped.
“Haiya, pesa zetu basi” Translation: ‘Alright, refund please.’ And the tout was no longer their (our) friend as he had to refund us half of the 20 bob we gave him. Sadly. Though most of the passengers could alight and get home before the accent, most wait to see if the matatu will break down so they get some extra cash [that they need so badly] and prefer using the long route, by alighting at the terminus.
I felt bad for the tout, he fought hard for the people to pay less; well, they did pay less, though much less than he had in mind. And the previously friendly laborers left him and his driver reeling in his own loss…with a broke down matatu and a cut lip.
Just another day in Ngumo..