Standing in Line

It’s ten past eight and I am going to school this gloomy morning. First however, I have to make it into the bus. Kenyan streets have a rather funny way of going against your wishes. When you are in a hurry, everything halts to the point of no return. When you have all the time in the world, you have nothing to do. Same thing today! Class starts at eight and I am waiting in line for the bus at eight ten.

It’s a long queue that takes up the whole sidewalk. It mingles in with the vendors and the parking spaces. We therefore, are all very gloomy indeed. Up the line and back the other side, everyone is in a sweater to keep away the morning chills. The colours are dull, so we must all be highly pessimistic. And that fact is keeping true now that the bus seems to be avoiding us.

The pavements are starting to look friendly. Our eyes stare at their dusty grey with only one thought. To sit and lose the strain that has been building up in our legs. But, we kept each other in check and kept standing. Also we didn’t want to risk the line moving away from us.

Its thirty past eight, God help us. There is still nothing in sight. I shift on my feet and try to focus on other things rather than the shouting voice in my head saying how late I was right then. Looking at the cars coming seems to be helpful. We are standing right opposite a beautiful building and the little garden right in front of it. So the cars that pass through this road are a variety from the really luxurious to the rather tattered. I start a song, ‘One BMW, Two Toyota, Three…am not very good with cars.’

A loud shout from one of the conductors makes all our heads turn like marionettes to face the same direction. Finally, the shouting blue bus honks its way towards the start of the line and we almost rush for it. But the motivated and rather aggressive conductors keep us in line. They are wearing vivid dull colours, probably more pessimistic than we are. So they do all they can to make sure our hopes don’t rise up. Stamping in zigzags, they check the bags of everyone ahead then help them up the bus with an easy push. Another conductor starts shouting again and again where we are headed. I mean…we already know because its forty past eight and we have been in the same line motionless.

I don’t want to bring ay attention my way. So as silently as possible, I shuffle with the line and hope that I make it inside. But it’s starting to seem more unlikely. The bus was filling faster than you could imagine, and people inside seemed to soak in the chairs like they belonged there.

I had to think of something. A coin came to mind. If I could toss it ahead and pretend to go for it, then I could cheat my way into the bus. Although, it could also attract the attention of the people since we had been standing there for so long that any movement had us acting like hawks. One swoop and my twenty bob would be gone.

When I looked up again, the once deserted bus was now lined with the faces of relieved passengers. The bus hooted its way away and we were left there looking just as bleak as ever.


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