The time is sevenish in the evening, I am seated in a matatu after a whole day spent at Jocham Hospital, waiting for it to fill up as passengers trickle in from their various day’s hustle. As the matatu blazes trendy music to the amusement of the touts around it, drunkards board the matatu singing their own rendition of the music in the matatu. So are students, who are late from school, women who are from selling their wares from the market also hop in. It takes approximately fifteen minutes, and the matatu is now full; the touts shout at the driver, who was seemingly engrossed in a careless chatter with a fellow driver across the street to take off.
Five minutes into our ride, the conductor starts collecting fare from the passengers seated at the back. The driver spots some stranded would-be passengers by the road and pulls over to pick them up as well, much to the chagrin of the passengers seated by the door. To say that the matatu was full to the brim is an understatement; the conductor squeezed in seven standing passengers in the matatu who looked desperate to report to their workstation in time.
Nonetheless, the conductor continued to collect the fare from the passengers who were seated, albeit with visibility problems. The conductor nudged his way around rearranging the standing passengers in a bid to reach all the passengers, to ask for the fare. Then the conductor stretching his full arm shyly touched the shoulder of a passenger who was seated behind the driver’s seat and coyly said, “Oya daa, pesa,” in a way to ask for fare from the supposedly “female” passenger.
Hell broke loose!!!!!
The purported “female” passenger who was facing downwards, occupied by “her” mobile phone, swung “her” face and, to the shock of the conductor, reached for the neck of the conductor and grabbed it real tight and asked him angrily, “whom are you calling oya daa”? The conductor, who was visibly shaken, retorted in a Mijikenda accent.
“minemeona umevaa vipuli, nywele umesonga na mkono umepaka cutex nikajua wewe basi ni mwanadada.”
Then it suddenly turned into a rib-tickling animated debate, with all the women in the matatu siding with the conductor. The women chided the guy about his womanlike appearance. The guy fought back, yelling at them that he is a grown-up and that they should respect his style of dressing. As the women continued throwing hilarious jabs at him, he could only stutter back, my dress my choice to save face. Now it was the turn for the conductor buoyed by the aura of self-entitlement to turn the heat on him, and he pressured the passenger to pay up.
I reached my destination and left the hullabaloo continuing in the matatu.