I was in a late, late night bus heading home after a gig; tired but satisfied that we had played our music well. Gratified that we had got paid too. These days being given wages promptly after any job can be a hassle. Money is a “tough ride.”
Dude, I was slightly annoyed by unusual noises coming from the upper deck of the bus, but not too surprised though, as this is a normal scenario when you take a London bus in the wee hours of the morning, to paraphrase the Scottish expression.
Drama, melodrama and verbal theatre.
To block off the noise, I surfed the Internet on my phone and stumbled on the helicopter crash in Dar es Salaam. The heart skipped a beat. Helicopter tumbles are becoming common worldwide. The said ‘copter had dropped… thanks to the current East African rainy season; luckily, no fatality. Africa is a scary place when it comes to motor vehicles, so I reflected in brief, relief.
Meandered across London
If reflections could resolve. If…
Reflections that took me nowhere as the late night bus meandered across London; a long odious, unpleasant journey. Every few minutes the red, double deck machine would stop to pick up or drop a variety of passengers – tired and short tempered, drunk or silent, with few lovers hugging and kissing openly. You get the picture.
Now we had parked and as a passenger descended from the upper deck, a shrieking voice cut through the still atmosphere.
“You raped your own child!”
Almost near the door, the man hesitated.
“Shut your big, filthy mouth.”
Bus waited. Driver waited. We watched.
“I saw you, we all saw you, so don’t play up. Take your own responsibility. Just like Oscar Pistorius was told by the prosecutor. Take respons-”
“Shu’ up. We don’t wanna hear your crap!”
The woman laughed. Came charging down the stairs. Stood right in front of her adversary who was keen to alight. Blocked his path.
“Wha’ are you doing, crazy bitch?”
“Why did you rape your own son? We all saw you!”
“I did not rape anyone. Could someone tell this bitch to go to sleep? Beatrice? You need to stop drinking. I told you upstairs and I am telling you now.”
Beatrice was still obstructing him. Short, stocky, black hat, a deep red jacket and long black boots, half staggering, swaying and tittering.
“Driver. We need to move on!” someone shouted from the rear of the bus. Exasperation. Impatience.
The drunken woman let the man pass. He slithered out wagging his finger. Shouting insults.
“I will soon catch you, Kevin!” she yelled back. Fact. Seemed like they knew each other. Now Beatrice sat down. No one dared speak to her. We reached the end of the bus route. Had to change buses. Resembling a stature, the driver sat glued to his seat, waiting for us all to leave. Beatrice approached him.
“Driver. Why have you stopped here?”
The man at the wheel did not say anything.
“Why did you do it? Prat. You need to take responsibility.”
As I stumbled out, listening to the abusive language, I crossed the street. Beatrice stepped out, lurched and a few steps later bowed down to vomit. She wretched and slumped on the hard asphalt pavement banging her head in the process. I heard her sobbing and cursing hysterically.
“Why is life so cruel? Why is everyone so selfish?”
I offered a bottle of water. She scowled and hissed: “Get lost!”
Like light, I hurried to catch the next bus.
Behind me I could hear her unmistaken high-pitched voice cursing everyone while the stench and odour of her vomit lingered – a mixture of beer, meat and spaghetti – as fresh as it was disturbing and revolting.
Minutes later, perched in the bus, I pondered.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), harmful use of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths annually. That is a large number. But why do people drink? Isn’t it to be happy? Why drink so much, though? And why are so many women boozing excessively, as we speak?
My wandering mind recalled a positive and optimistic story I had read earlier in the day. Of an 88-year-old woman who has just released a positive video, to help the elderly called Longevity Through Exercise. Yes, 88 years old!
The British mzee is fantastic. Pictures of Dame Gillian Lyne stretching her limbs, doing acrobatic leg splits and inspiring everyone to exercise are a better metaphor and source of reflection. She says she is old but has a young, healthy spirit. Her husband is thirty years younger and despite wrinkles and aches, she has belief. An inspiration to all of us not to give up and love ourselves more.