Home > True_story > The Three Characters And The Fuel Tanker

The Three Characters And The Fuel Tanker

A few weeks ago I had one heck of a bus trip from Mombasa to Nairobi. Three characters in the same bus as me made this particular journey remarkable. They made it worth writing about. I’m glad they sacrificed church that Sunday and took the 11:30am bus to Nairobi. They made my journey worthwhile.

The first was a young girl of about 20 years of age who sat next to me throughout the journey. Initially she had come off as a don’t-care. Her unbound braids were all over her face and from the way she chewed her gum you could tell she did not give a hoot if ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ was a food campaign or a lobby advocating for gay rights. But I was soon to learn that her nonchalance was merely a façade. I forgot to ask her name so for the purposes of this post we’ll name her Mwanaisha.

The second one was an elderly man who appeared to be in his sixties. He was seated on the opposite aisle, one sit in front of me. He had a coat on despite the fact that it was like fifty degrees Celsius. When I first noticed him, he was reading the paper through some thick lenses that hung on the tip of his nose.

The last character was the driver. He was seated at the back seat. Just kidding.

Drama started even before the trip began. When I got into the bus, Mwanaisha was sitting pretty on seat number 28. This was the window seat that I had paid for. When I told her that she was on my space, she snobbishly mumbled something inaudible and turned to the window. She had so much confidence that I had to pull out my receipt to confirm. My seat number was still 28.

You see good times only last till that time when you have to resume normalcy. I’d just spent a splendid weekend at the Coast and having to say my goodbyes had altered my mood. Pesky Mwanaisha had chosen the wrong person to mess with. I lashed at her and she reluctantly moved, probably wishing she had not tried to be such a hard-head.

We were soon on the highway. This is when it all began. Apparently the driver needed to get to Nairobi faster than the rest of us. Seeing any vehicle ahead of him made him sick. He stepped on it like he was trying to be number one on the road. And on several occasions, while overtaking, he would realize he had underestimated the distance between him and an oncoming vehicle. He would therefore put all his weight behind the brake pad.

This would result in very interesting reactions from my characters.

Mwanaisha would squeal. She would exclaim in a certain high-pitched voice that only a pig in a slaughter house can produce. In fact since the first occurrence the poor girl had her neck stretched out. She watched the road ahead over the seats. She had lost faith in the driver and she offered an extra pair of eyes. I must admit the driver scared me too. But only when he stepped on the brakes like he was killing a cockroach. But Mwanaisha was on the alert throughout. She was terrified. I could tell she thought she was on a ride to the pearly gates of heaven. At some point I felt sorry for her so I tried to help.

“Maybe if you strapped your seatbelt you would feel safer.” I teased.

She actually took my suggestion seriously. She deliberated for a second or two then searched for the belt and strapped herself.

“Don’t worry; we will get to town safely. I have to live to feature you in my blog.” I continued.

“What’s a blog?” She asked.

blogi.” I explained.


I plugged back my earphones.

Meanwhile character number two, the elderly man, had fallen asleep. He was least bothered. Whenever the driver floored the break pad, he would open his eyes slightly then adapt a more comfortable sleeping position. It’s like he had made a pact with the almighty and was sure we would get to our destination in one piece. For a while his composure gave me some form of relief. But this was before it occurred to me that maybe he had achieved his lifelong dreams and did not mind joining the angels up in heaven. He looked content; like he had seen all there is to see in life. Maybe, unlike Mwanaisha, he was not so scared of leaving this earth. I wished I could pick his mind. His composure was unnerving.

The driver was just a nutcase. Every time he made the hairs at the back of our necks stand, he would curse and gesticulate furiously at the other driver, sometimes in Arabic. It was never his fault. You would think he was the reason the highway was reconditioned. He was one angry driver. At some point the passengers ganged up against him. All it took was one person to start the uprising. He shouted from the back and informed the driver that he had a family awaiting him at home. Then everyone suddenly found the courage to speak up. This upset him even more. He had a psycho look on him that made me uneasy. I’m sure for a minute there he considered driving us into a trailer. But he slowed down. And I finally got to sit back, listen to my music, and let my mind wander.

Everything was going great until the bus slowed down, almost coming to a halt. I opened my eyes to see if there was a dik dik crossing the road. Of course anxious Mwanaisha already had her neck stretched out. A fuel tanker had overturned hence causing traffic. It was in the middle of nowhere. There was no single shelter in sight, just vast, pristine land. But what surprised me was that a crowd of people with buckets and jerricans had already gathered to salvage the fuel. The place was so desolate and I wondered where the hell they had appeared from. How had they even found out there was free fuel? I mean my phone did not have even a single bar of network signal. I looked around to see if there was a bonfire; maybe a wanderer had used smoke signals to summon his fellow villagers. The place was so dry I was afraid if a metal can happened to graze the gravel a fierce fire would ignite. But those people seemed oblivious of the looming danger.

I did not blame them though. I understood they might not have heard of the Sinai fire tragedy. They seemed healthy so I figured communication must be their biggest challenge. I mean the place was so remote they probably still had messengers traversing the plains with nothing but animal skin covering their groins. I figured they needed the fuel for ritual sacrifices. Or maybe for lynching a witch. Who knows?

Anyway we got to Nairobi in one piece. And I imagined the driver was furious because we had thwarted his aspirations of being number one to reach town. I imagined Mwanaisha had a stiff neck, and mr. sleeper needed a cyropracter to treat his aching joints. Well I needed to find a public toilet, or a bush. Badly!

Categories: True_story
  1. Anonymous
    November 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

    “She would exclaim in a certain high-pitched voice that only a pig in a slaughter house can produce.” ha ha ha was it really that bad? poor girl nway as usual you have made my Monday.

    • November 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      her life-span probably reduced by 5 years that day.

  2. November 21, 2011 at 11:39 am

    …ati blogi?sasa mbona ka mdanganya mwanaisha?u shld have asked jonah 4 the correct swahili word..lol
    he stepped on the brakes like he was killing a cockroach….men u just crack me up!!!am in love with joeytales!!!!

    • November 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

      by the way Mtz would have known. If i ever get on the same bus as Mwanaisha I’ll call Jonah. Always glad to see you here

  3. fibz
    November 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    me like so bad!

  4. Anonymous
    November 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

    me like it 2 but was the lady likable???

    • November 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

      unless your type is the overly nervous girl… i’m glad you enjoyed.

  5. shel
    November 22, 2011 at 9:58 am

    well this is the part i say I TOLD U SO!!!!! but i will not….its awesome…ok may be not…super awesome 🙂

    • November 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

      Shel your just in a better mood this week. Thanks

  6. Mercy
    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I’m glad i took the 10.00pm bus that day :-). Iv laughed quite a number of times here which is much more than i can say about my journey…i was the sleepy head in ours

    • November 22, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Mercy if you were in that bus the title would have read ‘The Four Characters…’

  7. #214
    November 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    good stuff!

  8. Liberty
    August 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Loved your conversation with Mwanaisha………blond much???hehehehe Hilarious post Joey:)

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