Short Story (Non-fiction): The Taxi Driver

Camera rolling, I walk up to the set, sit down in the best posture I can think of, I think I am ready but they have to do the usual “3.2.1-action!” cue they give)

Lol, if you read that just pretend as if you did not, it has nothing to do with the experience I about to share, it is not even a true sometin, it is only for effect. But here goes the real story:

I have been seeing this not too rickety not too  cool vehicle around the area for quite sometime now, I was really interested in hitching a ride in it but as it was I kept missing the opportunity to. I was driving a Professor to his house one afternoon last week or thereabouts when  I drove past that same taxi again, my inquisition  hormones raced and I just wanted to stop the car but I dared not. So I kept on wondering what circumstance(s) could have led to the situation, I mean this driver was different from all other taxi drivers I ever seen although in some other parts of the country it may not be that surprising. I just kept wondering and pondering (Up Nepa! Let me plug my phones – yes I have two phones because one cannot depend on one network provider-before electricity is shut down again. It has been 7 days, 12 hours, 55 minutes and 16 seconds since we last say the bulb lit up in our area)

So, it all happened this morning, I never even experrerit, it just so happened that I was running late after having told my friend I will arrive very early to the office today, I was in a hurry to get a cab and just get to the office before I start receiving all those “Hey! Where are you?!” calls. The taxis parked were not my taste so I strolled a little further to thumb down any tush cab that won’t waste my precious time. Well, I waited for quite a long time but the taxi I was waiting for did not show up so I gave up and decided to join any cab going my way.

Just after I made that decision came The Taxi I had been eyeing to ride for a number of weeks, the driver called out my destination and kiakia I thumbed it down. I had to share the sit with some set of iron rods but still I did not mind. I fixed my gaze on the driver and the person sitting in the front seat. What a marvel it was for me but then I had to compose and just observe. As we journeyed on, there was never a time the driver stopped talking with the other person, we were three in the taxi but I did not utter a single word out loud; I was talking to myself. At first I thought of just asking how the whole thing started but then I thought again to hold my tongue, I did just that anyway.

A zillion thoughts were racing through my mind, and at the same time I was moved to celebrate this driver. I was moved to pity, I was moved to compassion, I was not moved to tears though. I saw a driver who defied all the odds and broke every single rule they have made to make the job worthless.

As she spoke with the driver, I wanted to clap my hands and say “Oh dear driver, you are the real MVP” but I just had to wait till the end. Every time the driver greeted another road user, I would look into the face of that person just to catch every detail of the expressions of shock, then fascination then appreciation. But this driver was just being in a natural mode, and I could not cause any embarrassment. But here is what really humbled me most in the conversation of the driver and the other person and I will quote it:

Driver: Please do not seat like that!

Semilore: But it is not bad!

Driver: Semilore, I have been telling you not to seat like that but you won’t listen.You see as I am working to making ends meet so I can feed you and your sisters but you still want to incur more expenses on my neck. I am warning you o. I don’t know why I always bring you to work sef, you do nothing but stress me the more.

Well, yes the driver of that taxi was the mother of the young girl between the age 5-10 sitting in the front seat. The driver of that taxi was a woman who looked so far from being a woman, her body was emaciated and her skin was looking worse that mine as poor as I am. She’s obviously not only the bread-winner of her home but also the tea-provider.

Then I thought again to interview her and take many pictures of her, spread it over the social media, probably make another Olajumoke out of her (who am I kidding, mesef dey wait make person discover me) but then I thought again on why I should attempt that. Was it because the society has placed so much lowliness of the woman-fold? was it because I have been programmed to consider her job as a man’s job? Would I have been so convinced to interview a female professor or Engineer like that? Was I not been gender-biased? Who even made these rules that govern our society? Is a woman not allowed to be independent?

As these thoughts and many more rushed through my mind, I looked up at the driver (we already had more passengers in the taxi now) she was arguing with one “upcoming Alfa” on the state of the nation. As I looked at her, I saw a fighter, I saw a real African mother, I saw a caring mother, I saw a selfless parent, I saw a body frame that has gone through the low depths of life, I saw a light-skinned-turned-black hero, I saw hope.

I saw my mother, I saw my parents. I saw all parents who struggle to make ends meet for many of us who never even truly appreciate it.

(Camera stops rolling, I grab a bottle of Coca-Cola and walk towards the window. I see the roof of many houses stained and dirty. “When will the rain wash them clean again?” I asked myself as I drew the window blinds)


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