I took a visit to Meru. Now I have the choice of being honest or not, and say I was on a business arrangements, but that would ruin the point.
I boarded a matatu early enough to get the front seat, to reach my destination before everyone else.
I listen to music on my headphones to kill time, waiting for the rest of the empty seats to fill up.
I usually make situational decisions to block people out since there are enough problems for people to complain, typically surrounding the current Unga shortage.
Eventually the mat filled and we set off. Near Nanyuki, a Prado dead ahead of us could be heard screeching before flying into a river.
We pulled over, got out of the matatu, and sought to help in any way we could.
I could see how shaken everyone was, most of them exclaiming at how fast bad things happen. We left the Prado with its occupants and we set on our way.
I could recognize the body language of the passengers, replaying over and over what we just had witnessed. Now everyone is quiet. I was shaken also. I could not listen to music no longer.
Lest we find another river, my eyes remained fixed on the road.
Soon we got to Meru, and it felt as if we’d only stayed a few moments. Before I knew it, I needed a vehicle to get back. It scared me and I wished I could walk back to the city. I remember at some point I inwardly cursed the inventors of those machines.
Seeing no other choice, I got into one. This time around, I was modest enough to let other people sit in front.
I said a quiet prayer as we left Meru asking nature not to put rivers on our way, at least not close to the road.
I was beginning to settle down in and drift to a focus of relaxation.
By now, those two women whom I had gracefully let use my front seat were screaming.
“Chindwe! Chetani! Chindwe!”
Someone from a seat behind me hit his head on the matatu roof as he tried to get off his seat. He must have been sleeping, I joked in my head.
I turned to look at him and my joke dried immediately. A big lone elephant was on our track. He was running full speed, his trunk raised high up. One look at him and I hit my head too.
Now the matatu was shrouded with cries, amidst them prayers aimed to shame the devil. Our driver had his hands clamped on the steering wheel like the future of the world depended on it.
The beast was catching up, I could see determination in those tiny eyes of his. I think about praying rather than taking an initiative. I can’t help but notice our driver keeping our distance between elephant.
He pulled over, maybe to do something to the animal or maybe he was just tired of speeding. Out of nowhere comes this boda-boda guy, his motorbike playing Diamond Platinum’s Salome in full blast. He was headed straight to the elephant’s direction.
No amount of hooting by our driver could alert him.
He zoomed past our matatu chewing furiously on the big ball of muguka in his cheek. You could hear people gasp, knowing well he was going to be crushed.
The elephant had slowed down and staring us down, watching our horrified expressions. The seconds that passed were loud in my ears and I didn’t blink as my eyes followed the Nduthi guy.
His eyes met the animal and they stared at each other. He spun his machine while still at full speed, right past us without blinking or even looking at us.
On the other hand, the elephant was disappearing at the other end of the road. He was at a speed I had no idea elephants could master. This time both his trunk and tail were tucked safely somewhere under his limbs.
The Nduthi guy had a purpose. The elephant became petrified. I couldn’t help but be the first to burst into laughter. It was hilarious seeing two different forces running from each other at that speed.
Our driver composed himself and drove us off amidst loud chatter. As we passed our Nduthi guy, he didn’t hesitate to move his gaze and focused speed from the elephant.
He didn’t make eye contact with us. In fact, he looked frozen on his bike, the only thing missing was his muguka ball which I knew he would swallow involuntarily.
The rest of the journey was uneventful and I got home safe, still wondering if the boda-boda operator ever stopped. For all I know, he is still somewhere trying to come to terms with the happenings of those few seconds. And maybe fighting to digest his ball of green gummy muguka.
Boda-Boda – East African Bicycle and Motorcycle Taxis
Matutu – African Transport Bus
Muguka – A Kenyan Plant
Nduthi – A famous African man
Prado – Kenyan manufactured automobile