Taxi Tales: Jafari’s Love for Taxis
By David Tumusiime, Uganda:
Jafari does not have to drive a taxi. Some say he still drives one of the many taxis he owns because he is too stingy to buy a car for his own use.
Others say that Jafari still gets behind the steering wheel because he does not trust any of the drivers who work for him. Remaining one of them, on the road, is the best way to monitor them.
No one accepts Jafari's own explanation, “I love driving taxis”.
Everybody laughs, shakes their head disbelievingly, and mutters that old Jafari is so sly he will never let anyone know what is really on mind. Not even after he tried to tell them how he came to want to drive a taxi, as a young boy.
When he was a young boy, Jafari lived in one of the remotest villages of Masaka. You would have to walk for days to get to any trading centre.
As a child, he had seen his mother give birth three times before. But the last one was the hardest. He had never seen his mother in such pain. He had never seen his father so panicked. The homestead in uproar, every adult unsettled. The whisper on everyone's lips “Let her hold on, Chairman is coming.”
But the chairman did not come with the ambulance, as expected. The boda bearing him into their compound seemed like the blast of doom. That was when his father seemed to recover his nerve, leave the alarmed men and women discussing what to do next.
His father revved the boda himself, shouting over his shoulder, that if there was no ambulance, he would get a special hire. He was not about to see his wife die while he was still living.
Not even the entreaties of the boda boda rider that the road was so bad would forestall his father; convince him to at least let the boda boda rider try for the birth a attendant who was in the next village. Nearer than the trading centre.
Nobody thought his father would make it. Or come back in time. Or that Jafari's mother would survive this most difficult of all the child births she had ever gone through. No one said it but everyone expected her to die.
Until a taxi's headlights, then the taxi itself, entered their compound. His father jumping from the shotgun seat before it stopped, shouting they prepare his wife for the journey. He was taking her to Masaka referral hospital.