If I could tell you one thing
Posted Sunday, March 3 2013 at 02:00
He looked so lost I was tempted to take him by the hand and guide him into the taxi. But a conductor cannot do that. So I just watched him. Bobbing among the shoving passengers fighting to get into my taxi. Somehow he made it on. He always did. Though he annoyed all those coming after him.
Moving so slowly like he was blind, feeling his way by the edge of the seats into the taxi. Nearly toppling him over in her impatience to get to the corner backseat, a Hajjati jibbed, “You’re the first man I’ve seen who walks like a Muhima woman.”
But he had not wanted that seat. Like I expected, he ignored her after he had gingerly let himself down. In the seat by the window, in the second last row. To greet his neighbour seemed like a great effort, but he would wait until his neighbour was seated.
He would smile before proffering his greetings. The smile of a man who was used to love talking. The men understood quite quickly, left him alone. The women were more puzzled.
He could have told them what was going on with him. But it was none of his business to be a ssenga when he should be collecting fare from them. He could not tell them that the handsome man next to them believed, for now; he was in a world no one else had ever experienced.
He resisted all attempts to draw him into more conversation. At some point would “rudely” plug his ears with his earphones: turn whatever was he was listening to maximum volume.
But most of all, he wanted to reach out, squeeze that man’s shoulder, look him in the eye and tell him he understood. He got him. He knew what he was going through. Right now it was tough. Everything reminded him of her.
But one day, he would be pulling the blanket to his chin at the end of day and he would realise he had been through that day without once thinking of her. He would be a new person after this heartbreak, his first. He would learn a new language of the heart. But he would be fine. He might even be better.
But he could not tell him all that. He was only a conductor. This was his passenger. There were boundaries.