Travelling sick in a taxi
Posted Sunday, January 6 2013 at 02:00
I had the sort of headache where I was sure there was a Nkoba za Mbogo drummer somewhere in my head furiously drumming away. As the Kabaka approached his row. The headache was so bad that I stumbled through the daylight with slit eyes. I was ill.
I did not know how I would make it home because I could not take a boda boda. It would have killed me. Not the speed, but the cold, rushing wind. I was already wearing two sweaters on a sweltering Kampala afternoon and still felt cold. I was too ill to bother pretending to those who met me that I was a local artist in costume. I just wanted a taxi. I aimed for a taxi that seemed intent on getting to its destination as fast as possible.
Even in my illness, I could still tell. But this was a taxi with issues. A few minutes into the journey after I had got on, I started to suspect we had a rat on board. Or at least some insects.
I kept hearing a distant scratching, wailing sound I could not locate. Whenever I looked at my neighbours, around me, I could see them puzzled too. Trying to figure out where it was coming from. Before I would slump against the window again, praying for this taxi to go faster.
When I was not trying to locate where the sound was coming from, I concentrated on holding myself together. Every pothole threatened to unglue me. Every hump to force me to bring back the lunch which I suspected was the cause of my distress. A lunch I had looked forward to all week in a 4-star hotel.
By the time I handed over my Shs10,000 note for a Shs500 journey, I was near dead. I braced myself for a rant from the conductor but none came. Even stranger was the woman who sat next to me just before I got off the taxi. On any other day, I would have found her questions intrusive. But not that day.
“Are you in pain?” she had asked me. Surprised, I replied before thinking, “Yes, how can you tell?” She looked at me pityingly, “You are groaning like you are in pain. Everyone in the taxi is concerned.”