Just Another Face
The old cab pulls over. Surprised, I am, to find that I am the only passenger at 7.50pm. Unless I am in a different Time Zone, on weekends in Molyko, the day starts at 9 pm. That’s the way a University town rolls.
Apart from the customary hum and occasional gear change, the vehicle moves silently. I love silence. I don’t bother looking for an identification document. I barely see inside the vehicle — why remind myself of my already incompetent visibility in low light conditions?
He is old — 50 at least. His gaze never leaves the road. Mine, the sidewalk. Silence eats our thoughts.
A bevy bunches up at the entrance to Dirty South, the street just after the Total gas station. The rainbow stripped crew has a Sunday evening outing — the ‘lit’ kind — one that usually culminates in: a refurbished sense of moral decadence, lowered standards of truth and a renewed archive of dirty little secrets.
He doesn’t pull over when the couple points in my direction.
I reach for change. 200Frs. On evenings when I am particularly excited, I argue the fare with, tease and try to get the best of cab drivers.
Today, I just want to go home.
I hate it that I don’t see properly in the evening. Just like Dad. This makes me grateful every time I get into a cab.
A bittersweet reminder of the diversity and complementarity of all humans.
Coins clink. I step out. Will he give my 50frs?
I watch him hesitate for a split second — -wishful thinking that I would start moving into the street without taking my 50frs. He catches my gaze, smiles in the dark and stretches his arm.
He knows he lost the battle when he flinched. I know he is not in that taxi because he admired cab drivers as a child.
We both know he doesn’t deserve the extra 50frs.
Miss Bright Junction
It’s 8.06 pm. The street light reflects on my glasses — blinds me for a moment. The bar squeezes the peace out of my ears. As the bikes beckon, asking if I would ride them into the pitiful excuse of a tarred road, I wonder whose father he was. Whether he had made the day’s quota and whether he was strong enough to carry on such a grueling profession.
The thought didn’t stop me from arguing with the young man dispensing pawpaws. I wondered if, in another life, he would be retired and reaping the fruits of a well-invested youth.
I wondered if he would remember me: the nonchalant, lenses borne quasi-blind dude.
Did I look like one of these pawpaw fruits? Identical except with slight curves, color, and fruity attitude?
Would he remember our moment?
“Cent ngoma for this small thing massa? Noo. Take piece.”
150 frs for this little thing dude? Noo. Here’s 100.
Did he consciously ignore the couple or was he just pleased that he had a passenger who didn’t want to be bothered as well.
“Thank you boh”.
Maybe. Maybe not.
In the end, like my pawpaw buddy, I would be just another face.