Trotro Chronicle. – Backseat Palaver
For about fifteen minutes, you stand at the bus stop. Finally, you start to walk along the newly asphalted road, losing one gram of the hope you had of getting a vehicle with every step you take, picking up spots of bitumen as you go by. You wonder why you ever considered waiting for a trortro in the first place. Then as if to spite your efforts at turning to your legs for a solution, a white sprinter trotro, with its left side-mirror held in place by what looks like wads of sellotape, slows to a stop right by you and the mate, with matted hair and a twig for a chewing stick in his mouth, rears his head and asks ‘Wob3k)?’
With a feeling that you cannot accurately describe as joy, you climb up the badly welded step and get into the vehicle. You have to pass three rows of seats to sit at the back, because there is space for one more ‘botoss’. You get there and you expect the gentleman in the green creased shirt to shift to his left for you so you can sit by the window… which is logical. But no. He gathers his body, soul and spirit and huddles them to the corner, lifting his left leg slightly, as if performing the well-known routine that precedes the audible announcement of having had a good meal of beans some hours earlier, and nonchalantly, he signals you to pass. You have already had some draining moments in your day so you sigh and squeeze yourself past him to sit where he should have shifted to, and wipe the sweat that had started to gather on your forehead when you began to walk.
This is quite a frequently occurring episode at the backseats of trotros. For a host of reasons, chiefly, that the ‘illegal’ occupant of the right side window seat claims to have long legs, or more annoyingly, would alight a few distances ahead, many people perpetuate this ‘great evil’, feeling justified by whatever reasons they may offer.
The scene that you have witnessed, however, does not take place only in trotros. It is fundamentally, a case of not giving up power, a position or a right to an item or facility when the time comes for one to do so. It is a case of an inability to recognize the fact that, the time, season or circumstances for a particular activity or situation for an individual has elapsed and thus, he or she must be replaced. It is an incumbent president not conceding defeat and leaving office for another, and it is a retirement-ripe worker taking some more years on the job whiles young people remain unemployed. It is many injustices.
I shall not go on much further, but next time you have to shift for someone at the backseat of a trotro, know that it is more than merely giving space for the person. It is justice.
Do well to leave your opinions on this topic. You can respond to others’ comments so we have a discussion.