“Adenta!”, came the voice of the mate.
I turned around and lept out of the way as the trotro swung sharply towards me and came to a halt right where I’d previously been standing.
I had just got off the phone asking my brother if he was still in town so that I could hang out and delay dealing what I anticipated to be a horrendous traffic jam all the way from Ring road, where I was, through 37, airport and even East Legon.
But this car was my shuttle straight to Madina.
‘there IS a God!’ Is what I’d have said if I believed in that sort of thing.
“where is it going?”, came a voice from besides me, I glanced up to see the cutest lady I had seen in a while. Her hair was held up in a bun, somewhat to the rear. She wore a maroon faut-silk top loosely draped over small but perky bosoms and narrow shoulders that met at a graceful neck. Her nose was slightly pinched, as opposed to ‘bOm’ like some of us. Her mouth was not quite full, but you’d be excused in thinking they were, probably because of how, in their natural state, they formed a slight pout.
She was about an inch shorter than me but it might have been on account of her posture. Her posture was terrible! Slightly slouched forward as though tired from a long day, but you could tell she was always that way. She wore tight black jeans and 4 inch heels that caused her slouch to become a pucker at the rear end.
I’ve never quite understood that little section of my mind that lit up for petite women with bad posture, but I don’t question it either. It’s not my thing generally, but it’s A thing, and that section of my mind was lit up like Christmas tree this evening.
This examination probably took split seconds and I was thankful I found my voice to say, “Adenta”.
She nodded and climbed in after me. We both made our way all the way to the back.
The mate climbed in after two more calls of, “Adenta! adenta!”, and slammed the door, causing the bus to quake once before shooting forward almost immediately, as the driver pulled into gear.
The bus was alive with noise, specifically, the loud argument of two men to the front. The one in the front wore a highlighter over his rather threadbare shirt. He was gaunt, his eyes jaundiced and his expression severe.
The second man was to the seat behind him; probably in his mid 30s with glasses. He wore a white dress shirt and possibly a tie. I couldn’t tell from my position behind them.
The man behind was taunting the man in front, who had turned around to face his accuser almost squarely. Something to do with his being a fraudster masquerading as a Trotro station official or whatever they are called; The guys with canes who collect money and make sure the trotro drivers behave at the Station.
The man wore his guilt behind defiant threats, but he wore it fully all the same. The man in the wife-beater to his left and the man in glasses to his rear won’t allow him off the bus until they got to a friendly neighborhood police station.
The man at the back had simply decided to make a fuss about it, jeering and raising his voice for all to hear.
I wasn’t in the mood, and so I put on my earphones and let Jackson Five take me away from it all. Or so I thought. But the men won’t let me. Their voices rose higher still.
I muttered to myself, “What a fine way to end a long day”
The girl to my left chuckled.
I had entirely forgotten about her. I glanced at her, smiled, and closed my eyes, trying to focus on, “ABC”.
And then she spoke
Someone said, men’s voice activates the part of your brain that decodes noises, while women’s voices activates the part of your brain that decodes music. Personally, I’m dubious about the theory, but it’s a nice theory, and in this particular case, I was willing to be a believer.
It was a confident voice, but a soft treble that rolled out without a discord.
I opened my eyes, popped my left earphone from my ear and asked her to repeat herself.
“what are they arguing about?”, she asked.
i explained to her, and she nodded; her eyes opening as though to say she found it quite incredible. But as much to let me know she was thoroughly engaged in all (and anything else) I had to say,
I nodded with a sidelong smile and shrugged.
As is my terrible flaw, I had already begun nitpicking. Her eyes, I noticed for the first time were large (Which I have been partial to in the past) but they weren’t bright or intense, but plain, bored in fact, in a way that belied her lively smile. Her nose, I now noted wasn’t just pinched, but rather her entire face was — Sort of like Sade, in a way that made her look mousy.
It wasn’t unattractive, but not really my cup of MILO.
‘Yaw, you’re too picky. It’s not like you have any serious prospects for someone you’re meeting on a trotro’. The irony and emphasized snobbery apparent in the statement stared back at me accusingly.
‘Yaw, you’re a snob’, the little voice said to me after a brief pause.
As I said this, my eyes kept darting up and down, following her hand as she gesticulated. She was talking again, but my mind was going, ‘Look at the nails’
She had a dark red nail vanish, pealing slightly on more than a few nails.
Her fingers were small, but not dainty.
‘Yaw. You’re a snob!’, I heard that little voice in my head say.
I nodded at whatever she said, and smiled. Maybe I was too tired to care really.
“where are you headed?”, I heard myself say.
“oh wow. I’m heading to Ashale Botwe too”, I said moronically.
Then added on reflex, “I’m going to School Junction”
Realizing What I had done, the little voice returned, saying ‘Its a trap! Don’t say ‘alight’. Don’t say ‘alight’ ‘
“I will alight at Highways”, she said.
My heart sunk. And almost immediately, the cassettes in my memory whirled to life and begun playing back all she had said prior.
And as it did, I begun noting how she pronounced everything.
I was disappointed. As much in myself as anything.
‘Yaw, you are a snob’, the little voice said in my head accusingly.
‘I’m just tired’, I protested, but I knew I was lying.
I smiled and nodded at a few more things she said and slowly glanced her over, to try to find something to tip the balance in favor of positives.
But in the end, she went quiet, and I didn’t ask or pursue the conversation, although she clearly wanted to talk.
We sat in silence the rest of the way.
She glanced my way a few times, disguising it as her adjusting something on her right side, while stealing a glance at me.
I kept her in corner eye vision for a bit, and a number of questions rolled to the front of my mind.
I hate to be the one who picks up conversations with strange women in trotros, but after so long taking the bus to places as far as Tema, day in and day out for years… Well, I had a list.
I did not, however, vocalize any question from this list on this particular occasion, and the silence became dead some way on the trip.
Finally, I saw her ‘alight’ at her destination and I glanced outside the window to see her turn and wave at me. I gave a limp wave back, and continued on to school junction.