Series, Taxi Tales

Taxi Tales: The Woman We Never Knew

By David Tumusiime, Uganda:

We all hated her. We talked about her before we got to her and we thanked our lucky stars we were not her when she was gone. But we had to see her every day.

We used the same taxi. Every early morning. Before we could get to her stop, someone in the taxi would always moan, “You know she's not going to be there. Has someone called her?” Every single day, she would not be at her stop.

If no one called, we would end up waiting at her stop for as long as five minutes. Perhaps more. Restive. Pissed. Peering into the 6am dawn for signs she was coming. Until someone in the taxi, sighed, gave in, and dialled her number.

The furious murmurs were about how, “She never apologises for being late. Can you believe that? She just comes and sits herself down like she has done nothing wrong. Can you imagine? Not even a sorry. Does she think we don't like our sleep to get up early for this taxi?”

Not apologizing was not the only quibble we had with her. In that early morning taxi, the cold biting, still drowsy from unfinished sleep, we all liked to settle down soon to dozing peaceably. After greetings and a little chit-chat. She was not into that.

Soon as she was in her seat, the door slammed, out came her ear-phones and snap shut went her eyes. No conversation at all. Until she got off. Then one day she just stopped being a part of our morning routine.

It was two weeks before we heard and watched on TV what had happened to her: woman kills husband to save kids. This taciturn woman, beaten within an inch of her life for the nth time, her children threatened had lashed back finally. With a broken right arm, somehow she had stabbed her husband dead.

The taxi was gravely silent that morning. Remembering her silences. The mornings she came with thick Rayburn glasses, shawls that hid her throat and much of her face. Her slow, lumbering walk to the taxi: never hurrying even when we obviously were impatiently waiting for her. She had been broken a long time and none of us had realised.

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