We often make preparations for every journey that we embark on. The prepping varies from packing a bag, negotiating with the host, saving some pocket money for use while on the trip, booking a seat. In some cases, other travellers usually fortify their stomachs with pre journey meals to ensure non-interrupted voyages. However, nobody can ever adequately prepare for certain events like luggage loss, vehicle breakdown and more especially roadside declarations.
We have all been in a bus where the journey was uneventful until someone comes running from the back of the bus shouting ‘Stop! Stop! Please Stop the bus, I have to go.’ The driver sometimes has to asses the current location of the bus and use his judgement on whether to permit the passenger’s request to make an instant roadside declaration. There are also the moments when all hell breaks loose. Either the flight manager (conductor) is fast asleep, or the door won’t just open forcing the suffering party to even use a window or come out through the driver’s door.
A roadside declaration means using the toilet in areas where only native toilets read bushes exist.
Stomach upsets have no discipline. A passenger will eat his favorite meal in Nakuru during one of those breaks, gloss over it with a cup of hot tea and head over the bus to sleep in peace. But the devil dangles the nice looking packet of yoghurt and without a second thought, you pick one not bothering to check on the exotic name, the condition of the packet or the expiry date. So as you head to the bus, you down it thanking heavens for its coldness and smoothness and the thirst disappears in a flash. The journey resumes and as the vehicle hits the bumps at St Marys/Kikopey, trouble starts brewing at the pit of your stomach. There goes a rumble that at first sounds like the pull of a Kanyari. Instinctively you ignore it and shift positions. It goes away but its quickly replaced by a severe hotness of the stomach an urge to visit the toilet.
Instinctively you freeze and hold still, but its impossible with the bus periodically shaking and a neighbour who keeps on switching positions as they look for sleep. Trouble and more so double trouble as you glance outside and realise that its drizzling outside. A roadside declaration must be made. It has to be now. You make some calculations on how to best move from the window seat to where the Flight Manager is seated and further to where the captain is battling the hills towards Nairobi. You have to hold and tighten your belt a bit and move slowly towards the front. As you approach the driver, your hopes of stopping the bus are dimmed by every step you make. Ligii, you curse that word.
Your bus is in the middle of several other buses that are apparently trying to Kata Funua to see who gets to Nairobi ahead. For sure he may refuse to stop and that spells disaster for you. He may stop, lose his lead and thereby curse you a thousand and one times. At this point you are still trying to be a gentleman and suppress the urgency. You even squat a little and squeeze your knees together all in an attempt to muzzle the brewing storm that was once your beloved stomach.
You curse, the food, you curse yoghurt and all dairy products, you curse the rain, you curse those other drivers.
You can’t risk passing wind. You are now almost on your knees pleading with the driver to stop the bus. You can hear yourself calling him Boss, Buda, Bingwa, Aisee, Mzito, Mzae and numerous other endearments to entice him to stop. Your face is contorted and eyes teary. You no longer care about the publicity. The internal lights have been put on and sleepy faces are stretching their necks asking why the driver is angry. The driver finally obliges after a promise of Kshs 500 for his trouble and for the inconvenience. ‘Open the freaking door’, you shout and bolt down the little stairs out of the bus and into the bushes. There is a roar of laughter behind you with a distorted message having reached the back of the bus that you had soiled your pants even before the bus stopped. That is of very little concern to you.
You don’t make it far out as you trip on a bush and land in puddle of fresh mud. You decide to free your belt let loose and just let go. The feeling is worth a million dollars. You go on and on and on then you start coming back to reality. As you are winding up, you become aware of your environment. The bushes look like people watching over you and you become concious of your nakedness and soiled pants. You also notice that you were inches away from a barbed wired fence and thorns on your left. Chilling thoughts stream through your mind. Safari ants occupy your mind and you imagine the results, a snake somewhere or even a stray wild cat or dog, a baboon too features. You quickly brush off these thoughts. Guys are now out of the bus and some are almost next to you complaining of the stench. “Kwani alikula nini jamani” are just but some of the snide comments you have to put up with.
Finally you are done then you notice that you don’t have any wipes, no handkerchief. You weigh your options, leaves, the bus receipt (too little). Maybe your vest. The driver hoots as two more buses stop next to yours. Passengers file out and flee into the bushes. You console yourself. More hoots and shouts of ‘Wewe harakisha banaa tutakuacha’. You run back to the bus minus an under garment, dirty but relieved.
Onto the next hurdle. You need a change of clothes, luckily for you, you had placed your bag in one of the boots. You hand over the driver his token and politely ask the Flight Manager to open the boot. The driver jokingly asks whether you have washed your hands. You ignore him and hurriedly change clothes, empty your pockets and stuff the dirty clothes into your bag. You also give a smaller token to the Flight Manager and head back into the bus. Quick thinking leads you to decide that you can’t head back to your seat. You settle for the bonnet next to the driver and try to make small talk as you justify your unscheduled roadside declaration moment. You are glad its over, the bus is now past Naivasha and you have really hit it off with the driver. The bonnet is warm and the cushion cozy. The ligii is fun and you are mellow.
Just then you hear a familiar rumble. Ooooh Noo. Not again……!!!!
What was your experience?
*Photo Courtesy of David Mageto Ombogo – Snr Captain Modern Coast Bus*