Celebrating East African Writing!
Sleep is important. That is an undisputable fact. And whoever can’t nod to that may as well dispute the fact that al politicians inhibit a common trait; the ability to predict what will happen tomorrow, next year and even years to come and being able to fully explain later why it never happened.
The latter (sleep and politicians) have one thing in common though: dormancy. We might as well come to the rescue of sleep as it is vital that minimum activity characterize it. But for politicians…that is another crust of an issue.
Therefore, for the sake of the sane amongst us, we shall restrict our story to ‘sleep’ today. And maybe tomorrow, next week or even next year a politician may come to the vicinity of our story, for all the wrong reasons of course.
Apart from few isolated cases, many of us have heeded to the call to honor sleep. How then can you explain the rampant flourishing bed making business? Not only that, haven’t you noticed the sprouting of coffin making parlors at a speed shaming the creation of new churches? The sane may wonder the connection that exists between death and sleep, I won’t answer that. I leave you to debate with the famous son of God who coined the hypothesis that; death is sleep.
Given that not many of us can bawl from rooftops the amount of our salaries; this has not deterred us from achieving good sleep. How then can we explain the undergraduate students who go to the library for a siesta? The countless lot of worshippers streaming into our churches: only to sleep through out the sermon? Such examples are common, but we stop at two to pave way to the rolling of the drums, clapping of the hands and applaud for the many creative innovators who have come up with the new theory that states that; there is no fixed connection between sleep and bed nor between darkness and sleep, therefore the product sleep (S) and anywhere, anytime, anyplace (P) minus bed and darkness (E) is constant in all people creative enough.
A sleep addict reading these words must by now have started the nodding exercises that precede sleep. And I, being a fair lad offer my humble go ahead for you to partake in your favorite hobby except one given group of sleepers; the Matatu sleepers.
I have no personal vendetta against this group but I hate to sit next to one when I travel on a Matatu. The last time I did so I ended up being questioned by my friends on whether I had been rained on which I lied yes only that the guy seated next to me had applied long strands of slimy white saliva on my jacket all in the name of answering to the call to sleep.
Lost comrades, please heed to my advice and bring to an end the Matatu siesta. But given that even the Son of God learnt that words alone cannot work wonders thus supplemented them with a lash, I humbly offer to narrate the case of my unlucky grandfather and maybe a life would be saved.
Old folks are wise, but strict old folks are wiser a group that my grandfather fits. At my prime youth, I still can’t tell the relationship that exists between wisdom and old age. Nevertheless, I have come to learn that sometimes the two are complete strangers. And it is a result of such times that sent my grandfather to the narrow hospital bed.
Were it not for my uncle’s disrespectful act, my grandfather would not have traveled on that fateful Monday. Not only had my uncle insulted his wife but had gone further and touched the hair on her head (this is according to his version given that the wife’s version claimed that he had actually uprooted her hair).You can bet whose version was listened to and for that my uncle had been sentenced to six months in prison and divorce as a welcoming gift when released. It was amidst that scenario that my grandfather decided to visit the city and check on the condition of his eldest son.
Rumor has it that, in places far away from where I live there exist cars that carry people, animals and even cars that carry cars. They must be a lucky lot compared to my case; a Matatu in my village served all the above purposes. Up to today rumor has it that there isn’t a thing in this world that has not seen the inside of my village Matatu. From the crackling guinea fowls to the deadly horned rams, they all have shared the Matatu with man.
Bouncing Balloon was the name of the Matatu that my grand father boarded on that day and off he went to the city hospital. For the less informed let not the beautiful name misguide you in imagining the nature of the bus. This old Volkswagen body whose original color was hard to tell had nothing bouncy about it.
Having not been present at the scene, the following narration is highly credited to the firm witnesses and the victim himself (though he remembers little of what transpired on that day). So far, each of narrators has come up with different versions determined by the different levels of creativity, imagination and outrageous exaggeration. However one thing remains the same in all the versions; grandpa slept while on route to the city.
Rumor still has it that grandpa looked older than he actually was on that day. So old did he look that it is said that an older lady surrendered her seat to him in the already full Matatu.
Having fixed his narrow torso into the vacant seat, he stared at his direct opposite neighbor-a bearded clueless ram. Were he from the far land Grandpa would have been more alert during the journey, but being a villager at the heart of the village he did what he does best; he slept.
No one is yet to emerge and complain how the old man snored or about the long strands of saliva that trickled down other people’s lapels, but almost every occupant of that vehicle swore to have seen the whole scenario.
It all started with the periodical snoring- everybody ignored it. Then the rhythmic side sways and once again nobody complained. Finally, the habitual nodding set in and although everyone pretended not to notice but the big ram took notice. The nodding momentum had reached the feared 90 degrees arc when the ram joined in the fun. The old man finally had a companion.
The ram suddenly felt at home, it fixed it huge hairy head in a charging position and waited for the perfect time to join the movement. With one eye shut the beast finally found an opening when the old man stopped for a second to sneeze and the duel was on. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Both men and beast charged along until the beast felt the right momentum had been achieved. It drew the final arc that was marked by an intended pause of warning that the old man never got to see. It shut both eyes and then sprang.
The impact was deafening, even the far seated driver almost lost control of the vehicle.
It is not possible, with my limited scope to curve the full image depicting the dangers of Matatu siesta but I hope with my isolated single case, hearts and minds will be moved for the better. Furthermore, I set out to put the record straight that my aim is not to put the sleeping pills maker out of business but to let the society learn, respect and honor sleep in the right manner.
As I prepare to leave and visit my Grandpa in the city hospital I truly hope to adhere to the eleventh commandment that state that –thou should not sleep in a Matatu.
©APIRI BOSIRE MARTIN 2010
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