Dear Mr Bus Conductor,
Daily I wake up to sounds of your shouts. Like many, in the sleepy Lusaka mornings, yours is part of the daily alarm. A part of the daily town routine, and as regular as clockwork.
“Mukwela?! tiyeni! Fast Mami!”
Mr Bus conductor when you see me why do you ask me 5 times if I’m getting on your bus? Especially when I shake my head vigorously and say loudly “Awe!” Why do you hound me and accost me, trying to convince me to go wherever it is your wheels are rolling?
Tell me why is it when I get on the bus you like to shout at me aggressively when I give you the fare and say, “Mwa shota aunty!” Aunty? Did you not just sweet talk me into getting into your bus? How quickly the “love” runs out in this our relationship. Mr Bus Conductor I need to know, why do you one day call me sister, on another mami and again yet on another day you say aunty? Can you not decide who I am to you? When I tell you that I told you before I got on the bus why do you sometimes pretend to have forgotten. Why are you so crooked? Must take from me the very same two coins that I’ve also struggled to find?
Mr Bus Conductor, why is it that when I give you a 100Kwacha note you act brand new, saying you don’t have change and asking me if I want to buy some talktime or a drink out of it. Who are you to dictate what happens? Is it my fault you have no change? Why should I spend and extra K5 just because you couldn’t plan ahead properly.
You exclaim proudly, “Ni kuseni kuno mami, mukazi kwela na yo chinja ndalama.“
Isn’t looking for change part of your job description? Whilst we’re on the topic of change Mr Bus Conductor, Please could I have my change? I’ve asked you 5 times and I’m almost at my stop. Don’t be like those other conductors who wait for the last possible minute in the hopes of preying on your forgetfulness and gaining your change as “profit.” When I tell you that this is the last money I have between me and poverty why do you laugh at me. We might not have seen the same struggles you and I but don’t assume to know my story. Just because I look and sound like your definition of ‘ba some of us’ doesn’t meant that I haven’t seen my share of this world’s struggle. I mean, I can’t afford tomato either.
Mr Bus Conductor why don’t you want to let me off the bus at my correct bus stop? Now i have to walk further than I was mentally prepared for. Not to mention that I’m now going to be later than I already am. How come if I asked you to drop me off at a non designated bus stop you’ll refuse saying, “Ba gwila ba kapokola paja. The police will impound us,” but yet you’re willing to pick me up from whatever undesignated stop that I’m standing at as long as there’s a change of you making that extra, how much is it to town now, K7.50/K8?
“Awe sister, osani itana so. Don’t call me that. Ndine Transport officer.”
“Nipaseni change kaili. Give me my change.”
“Nizamupasani. 5 ku backseat. Ka squeeze apo!” Just like that you’ve changed the topic. Mr Bus Conductor do you know that this is really uncomfortable? See my thighs are rubbing together unpleasantly as I train to be a contortionist in this seating plan of yours. The man besides me has some crazy BO, the woman the seat in front of me has a baby who won’t stop crying, further up there’s a slay queen eating hungry lion and the worst part about it is the window won’t open!
Mr Conductor please tell me why we aren’t starting off off. You called this a ‘Time bus’, convincing me to get on because ‘ni yamu road’ but here we are, stuck at one bust for 15minutes whilst you malinger around and come back empty handed. Why must you waste our time.
Mr Transport Officer I have so much to say and so many questions. I’ll end here for the day. Now for the last time, “Awe sini kwela please ah!”
📸: The Zambian Observer