Are you back from your trip? You know I wasn’t also around, so, seems I’ve lost track of who’s in and who’s out. I remember the last time you were going on one of your private trips which so deprive home of you, I almost cried. Not just that I knew how extensive the short private visit would take, you know, but, I just kept wondering why you’d allow your children to suffer so much just because you have to move.
The taxi I took dropped me off at a good distance; and he collected the full fare. Can you imagine? And I had to cross the central town on foot. The traffic was horrible. I had to guard my feet from slipping, and my bag from your rebellious sons. I thought that was all, but getting another taxi was what we call “hélélé”. I was rushing to honour my appoint with our biggest Father. Oh, Fada, thanks to you, I erred. That distance would have cost me at the most 150FCFA. Do you know what the cabdrivers requested? 250FCFA or nothing else. That may perhaps not mean much to you, considering my sister spends exorbitant sums of money out there. Anyways, I had to give them Fada. I had no choice. Big Father was already present. He’s always present when you are absent.
But, their peers along the other road could not get a franc from me. Do you know that …,? I mean, I know that you know that that is what they do. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder. Don’t you pay them Fada? Or is the problem the fact that the pay is not enough? I feel so ashamed and vexed seeing how debased they become when they start asking for a ‘bottle of beer’. I even wonder whether they’re supposed to take alcohol while on duty. And who would even dare question them? Is their boss not sitting behind waiting for his share at the end of the day? So you understand Fada, I feel so ashamed. They’re disgracing us; they’re disgracing your name Fada; our name.
So, let me recount to you what happened huh! I have decided none of them would ever get a dime from me. Never, never ever, and I pray the Big Father helps me.
I was with one of your brother’s children. She had come visiting, and forgot to bring along her vaccination certificate. Her arrival was peaceful; her return was shameful.
Mr. Soldier was doing random checks. He took her passport, and asked for her health certificate. She said she didn’t have it on her. He said nothing. He strolled out of the bus. We waited for some time and we didn’t see him coming back towards us. I asked your brother’s daughter to stay in the bus and I went down. “Bonsoir”, I greeted. Fada, I can’t even remember whether he answered or not. He said something I didn’t understand, or rather, didn’t want to understand. Calmly, he called the already impatient Mr. Driver of the public transport bus to help me understand and stop wasting their time.
“Si tu as même un petit jus, donne leur on part. Il fait déjà bien tard”.
I told Mr. Driver I did not have “shishing”. Mr. Driver didn’t budge. Mr. Soldier didn’t budge. Trust me Fada; your daughter didn’t also budge. Then Mr. Soldier asked the driver to take my bags down because I refused to ‘act mature’.
Timely enough, one true son of the soil showed up. He was a commander, or so, he presented himself. He asked Mr. Soldier if “my” passport was good and the latter answered “yes”. Mr. Commander then asked what the problem was, and Mr. Soldier replied that he was trying to tell me that I need to walk with my complete ID documents “I’m just trying to do my job, and that is what I’ve been explaining to her ever since’, he explained. Mr. Commander prompted that if at least the passport was valid, they should let me go, and before Mr. Soldier obeyed, he scrutinized the passport, pointed his torch at my face, and then at the passport, and finally handed it back to me.
Fada, during all this so called ‘scrutiny’ and ‘just-doing-my-job’ time, Mr. Soldier hadn’t noticed it wasn’t my passport. Fada, do you know that I and your brother’s daughter look no inch alike? Our complexions are also different. I speak like a typical child of yours, but you can imagine that your brother’s daughter would speak like children that are typical of her own father.
I just imagined how mean he could have been, had Mr. Commander not given his timely ‘command’. I also tried to imagine how many hoodlums and ‘terrorists’ such Mr. Soldiers have allowed to enter the house because they failed to do their work properly and amply, paying attention to the least detail, and not only at the ‘bottle of beer’ they can make out of it. I know that you know what these Mr. Soldiers do out there, Fada. Would you let them go on? And by the way Fada, did he have the backing to demand the vaccination certificate where he was? I thought specific authorities were mandated to check that. Anyways, at home, everyone does what he/she wills. Right, Fada?
Just like you; and my siblings of “Air-Peut-être”. Can you imagine the name they’ve been given Fada? Even the meanest of your brothers, who is sometimes not able to put food on his table, is confident enough when he calls them that. And what can I say Fada. The last time I tried to defend, “Air-Peut-être” covered my face with shame. I decided never to talk again; perhaps just to pray, and hope things get better.
The number of bosses they’ve had is way more than the number of aircrafts they have. And I think too their ancient hostesses may soon be competing with you for longevity of service. No doubt they’re unable to keep standard. Fada, imagine my embarrassment when I had to dust off breadcrumbs from the seat I was allotted. And when they decided to serve me fruit juice and something else, breadcrumbs on the folded table didn’t look like yesterday’s. It looked as ancient as the hostesses. I don’t eat pork. You know it’s possible I am allergic to it, or many others could be. They had only pork. No tuna, no veggies, just pork. And whosoever didn’t eat pork could have as well gone to he… And those seats Fada. I almost thought I’ll incur the wrath of one of the fiery ancients trolling the aisle when I failed to put up my seat as her ancient colleague intoned overhead. Miss. Ancient didn’t budge. She very well knew that seat couldn’t be raised up.
Hahahaha Fada, it’s like all the rats in the former house we occupied visited the airplane. They had entered into a love union with the chair arms and backs. The remains of the remains were awfully shameful. As shameful as the dirty wagon those trains use to travel up north.
Before the sad fate hit Eseka, it was much better, though much more unsafe with the unreliable ‘Shinshong’ wagons. The seats then smelled good. They sometimes smelled fresh. We’d have the luxury of a hot meal or a cold drink, a clean seat or a semi-cozy bed. There were many wagons then, and it seemed fine. I feel sad for those who perished last year with the ‘Shinshong trains’. I thank God that it has kind of saved us from a likely fate with the mobile death trucks. But, I feel great pity for us who have stayed behind to endure the measureless semi-measures psychedelically upped by commissions that amount to nothing.
Ohhh Fada, who would take us out of this sham? I thought you would when you ascended. Yes, ascended. It’s more like the throne of our forefathers. I understand why you’re still there. But like our forefathers, they have become fore. You too will. I will become; and I too will have fore appended to me, someday; one day.
Take care Fada!