Taxi Tales: Not on Speaking Terms
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
At first I thought they were not together. As the taxi slowed down to pick them, they were standing so far apart they might as well have been on different continents. Even when the taxi had stopped, the man had yanked the front door, hopped in and slammed it behind him before the woman got in. Not looking back at her once.
Just as the conductor was resettling on the edge of his seat by the door; that was when the woman had decided she wanted to go with us, sitting next to the conductor. So the conductor had had to get out of the taxi again. Before we could set off.
And she did not want him to press up against her. Yes, she said that. Mbu because conductors have hard bones. She did not want to get broken. The conductor had taken it in his stride, “I'm honoured to sit next to the last virgin in Kampala, Madam.”
The woman had hit back, “Do I look twelve to you? Those are the only women you conductors can confuse.” It was supposed to shut down the conductor but his retort had people with earphones muting their radios to hear more, “Nga you started so early? Twelve? I pity the man who has to take you home.”
That's when the gruff, silent man in the front seat butted in, “Is this a taxi or a marital counselling matatu? Why don't you spare the lecture for your woman, if she listens to you, at all?”
“You think she will give you some, if you defend her? With these types of women, you're wasting your time,” the conductor chuckled. There was no winning with this conductor, I was beginning to think. Until the woman came back into the argument.
“The reason why men like you have to pay for it is because you don't pay for anything else. You're the men who expect pancakes at home without buying the cooking oil,” she charged. That really took us to town.
Then the man in the front seat nailed it, “Every time I'm about to chuck you, you remind me why I'm with you. Let me even pay the fare though it was your turn today. If you can give my children those brains, I won't ask for more!”