Do you ever look at people around you wondering what they are all about, wondering what is going on in their lives, wondering why they are the way they seem to be?
I took a bus trip and sat in seat 9A..
The ride on the bus was rough. In fact, it was as tumultuous, I thought, as the situation in Kenya today; ups and downs but mostly downs-disturbingly predictable downs. I knew it was going to be a bad trip. I hate death. It rips away with such contempt. Travelling to the village to attend a funeral means close to eight hours on the road thinking about death. I hate death.
Seat 8A,8B and 8C
There is a guy sitting in the row of sits in front of me. He is travelling with his four children. Three girls and a boy. The two girls are obviously a lot older than the boy and girl who take turns sitting on their daddy’s lap as he fills their excited minds with all sorts of fascinating facts about the cars and buildings and people we pass along the way. The two older girls look out the window, absorbed in their own private thoughts that they seem to share.
I don’t see a mother. Maybe she is dead or maybe they left her back home. Maybe they are off to visit her, I don’t know. But the girls stares, they haunt me. I know those stares because I have seen the world through those eyes. It is dark and lonely and even when you meet someone else in that dark and lonely place, like it seems these sisters often do, you are still alone in your thoughts and in your fears until you leave that world with its door ajar waiting until you return.
The little girl would now like a taste of her big sister’s lap and she giggles and smiles as her big sister bounces her up and down. The little boy will not be left behind. He sits on his other sister’s lap and falls asleep as she holds him close and tight and falls asleep too.
Seat 9D and 9E
The couple looks like they just got married. She leans into his shoulder as they hold hands, their fingers intertwined. She is talking and he is hanging on her every word and when he begins to fall asleep, she lets him rest his head on her lap as she strokes his hair.
She doesn’t have a wedding ring. Interesting. Maybe they just met. But they seem to know each other so well. There seems to be intensity in their interaction with each other; like they are hopelessly in love but hardly spend time together.
We make a pit stop and she wakes him up so that they can go to the bathroom. He says he doesn’t need to go so she goes by herself. He whips out his phone.I suppose he’s reading to through his texts as he concentrates on his screen. She comes back. He looks up.
“Ni yeye tena?” “is it him/her again?”, she asks, a look of disdain on her face. I think she is referring to another woman.
“Si ulijua atanipigia!” “You knew she’d call me, didn’t you!”, he responds, making it clear that he wasn’t going to tolerate further discussion on the topic. And she knew to shut up.
They rode in pregnant silence the rest of the way.
Maybe he got a text from his wife. Or maybe this was his wife and that was a call or a text message from his mother or his girlfriend. I don’t know.
How fragile this thing called happiness is, that it can come and go just like that, how vulnerable we are that we get consumed by insecurities; that we trap ourselves in bad, unhealthy relationships and convince ourselves that the happy times far outweigh the sad times. How strong we are that we have the strength to work on relationships that are doomed and how weak we are that we do not have the strength to walk out.
I wonder what my story is when other people tell it. Am I a hero or a villain or just another person shuffling along on this dusty rough path called life.