Fumes and Fight
A lady accosted a young man, "You bastard…foolish man…stupid…useless man…give me money to look after your son. Just give me the money and let me go my way," the lady has put her hand into the waist band of a young man's trousers, yelling so loudly that it caught Mensah's attention who was meandering his way among vehicles at the lorry park to board trotro.
The small boy, who was holding on to his mother's cover cloth, was almost crying. But that did not cause his supposed father to have mercy on him.
"If you don’t leave my trouser, I'll slap you!" the young man warned.
"I won't leave you…anytime I ask you for money for the upkeep of your son; you'll say you don't have money. Meanwhile you are driving this taxi everyday…you're working every day…yet each time I come to you, you'll say you don't have money. If you don't give me the money today, I won't leave you…you won't work today," the lady retorted.
There was little the young man could do. Not that he was not strong enough to deal with the lady for any such attempt would lead to free for all fight. The onlookers would pounce on him and beat the hell out of him. In such situations, the woman involved mostly got a lot of people on her side. His trouser was actually twisted very tight around his waist so that he could not set himself free.
She continued, "The last time your child was sick, it was my banana business money I used to take him to the hospital! There are passengers sitting in your taxi waiting for you. You better give me the money if you don't want people to see us."
The onlookers -commuters, drivers, mates, street vendors - who had gathered around them, had already formed their opinion about the whole scene unfolding before their very eyes. The lawyers among them are preparing their verdicts…those who will support the lady against the man and the vice versa were all fully prepared now. The young man was irresponsible! He did not want to look after his son! These were their unfettered conclusions.
The three passengers who had seated in the taxi had been forced to come out to the defense of the lady. Apparently, they were not perturbed by the delay. It was actually left with one more passenger for a full set.
"You taxi drivers... this is what you do. You impregnate the ladies and neglect your responsibilities!" an elderly woman, who came out of the taxi with the other two me, said angrily pointing her index finger at him.
"You ladies kuraaa…I don't know what is wrong with you. Look at the man you've given yourself to?" one of the men asked rhetorically.
"When you lurk in the night behind vehicles with drivers and their mates, this is what you must expect. There are serious men out there interested in you but you prefer this calibre of men - who knows how to make you pregnant and that's all!" the second man said harshly.
Women, who were in the majority as it's their kind of scene…were shouting …insulting …cursing hell on the taxi driver…
But the young man could not reply any of them. All the men around had kept mute. They also have skeletons in their wardrobes. Theirs had not come to the public like this one. So they had better kept quiet!
The three passengers who got down from the taxi, put some contributions together and handed it to the lady. This act was equivalent to bailing a suspect at the police station. So as a way of punishing the driver, they instructed him to take them to their various destinations without payment for his service.
"Come and sit down and move this car!"one of the men who just saved him the embarrassment he had gone through, said.
"But bear in mind that we aren't going to pay you! The money we have is what we have used to bail you," said the other man.
He did not utter a word for he knew any reply that would not go down well with them would land him in police cell as they had earlier threatened. He only peeped at the two men sitting at the rear seat in the viewing mirror. The woman sitting next to him in the front passenger seat kept looking at him as he drove through the town.
"This is how people like you have created the situation of street children. See all these children on our streets begging for alms to survive. Meanwhile they have parents who are supposed to cater for them. But here they are; exposed to this kind of condition and we expect them to grow into responsible adults one day!" the woman said with a lot of pain as a concerned mother would.
"God have mercy!" two men at the back seat said almost as if it had been rehearsed.
The incidence was going to dominate a great deal of conversation in many of the trotros that would be loading from that lorry park. The interesting thing was that there was going to be a lot of twists turns; conspiracy theories about the whole incidence. People would put their own spins on it to make it sound nice to the ears that were not present. In fact, there would be a lot to laugh about.
"Good afternoon," Bensah Mensah greeted those already in the trotro as he sat down by the window.
The discussion had already started. He would lend his ears to listen first before making any statement on the issue that if he has something to say at all.
This lorry park is considered the most dirtiest in the city. Pure water sachet rubbers all over the place. Left over food items black polythene bags that was used to serve food for commuters were being blown from one direction to the other by the wind. The few litter bins that had been provided to cater for the rubbish were overflowing. It is a case of no man's business to ensure the park is kept clean.
Passengers, traders and drivers alike had been the cause of this mess. Throwing litters all over the place had become a norm. Traders are the majority shareholders in this business of littering.
The gutters around the park had been filled with stagnant waters that had turned green and stinky. People had been using it as their place of convenience at night. Whiles some people could not afford a few pesewas to visit the public place of convenience at the park, others could also not endure the heavy stench and unkempt surrounding of the facility. The operators of such facilities are only interested in making their money but to keep the place neat and attractive is none of the their business.
The kind of foul smell that it had generated was too much for anyone to inhale. You either use handkerchief to cover your nose or a deep breathe-in for as long as you can.
There is a popular belief held by everyone that the city authorities are supposed to be cleaning the park because they had been collecting tolls from them everyday. They therefore saw no reason why they had to keep it clean. Yeah... it's easy to point accusing fingers but seriously speaking, these trotros usually got a lot of mess created in them that were left unclean. They had to wait until close of business to do so because some of them had to sleep in their trotro.
Mensah did not notice the window he was sitting by had only one glass instead of two. But when the trotro started moving and he needed to pull the glass to shield himself a bit from the sun, the woman sitting behind him growled.
He quickly turned to look at her.
"The glass is only one…," she told him in the face.
"Sorry…I didn't know." He continued, "then let me pulled it into the middle so that it can serve us equally."
"Hahahaaaaa…." they both laughed.
"Yes…your fares ooo…," the mate announced.
"So you won't wait for the trotro to leave this park before you start demanding your money?" a passenger said.
As he continued collect the fares, a woman gave him a currency note that too old. The mate rejected the money asking the passenger to place it.
"That is what I have. If you won't accept it, so be it."
There was a near exchange of words. Mensah quickly foiled it.
"I always say you people are doing business you don't understand. Once you sit behind the steering whell, you're a driver. The rules relating to your business, you have no clues about it. "You're not," he continued, "supposed to reject any money," he sought to educate the mate.
The driver requested to see the money after which he commanded the mate to accept it.
It had become a common practice for commuters in transit to eat and throw litters out of the windows of trotros on to the street. Some trotro drivers had the gut to insult you if a passenger dared drop a litter in his trotro. Reason being that the passenger would end up creating extra work for him by way of cleaning.
A woman who had just finished eating, threw a well packed black polythene bag out of the window on to the street.
"Madam, next time you finish eating, don't throw the rubbish out of the window. Just drop it in the trotro," Mensah advised
"Eeeeiii….you want the mate and the driver to insult my innocent mother at home?" she asked.
"Look, the driver is supposed to provide rubbish bin in this trotro. It's not a new thing. This directive has been around for sometime now but nobody is enforcing it."
"Yes…that's true. I do remember. Initially it was being enforced. But now it looks the behind the enforcement has died or something." another man said.
There was hysterical laughter by everyone.
"No. That's not the case. That is the Ghanaian attitude. Attitude towards enforcement of any piece of legislation or directive has always been short-lived," Mensah rebutted, not that the rest of them are not aware of what he said.
"We must put our hands together…at least play our part well," Mensah said. He continued, "ever since the new station at the other part of the city was built, I had never stepped there. And, in fact I was really impressed when I visited there. The whole place was neat. It was properly planned. We have canteens where you can sit and eat; you don't find people water sellers lingering around and littering the place. The vehicles were also properly parked in their parking slots."
"Yeah…as for the lorry park…it's too much," those managing the place are really doing well, a passenger said.
"I've been hearing this story too. One of these days, I'd have to there to see it for myself," a female passenger said.
Suddenly, the trotro had stopped. It's unusual for vehicles to stop abruptly on this stretch of the road. There were several other trotros still standing in front them. In fact no one had idea what was happening. The driver stretched his out of his side of the door to see what actually causing the hold-up. His eyes could not see any further beyond the immediate three trotros in front of him.
"Mate, go and check what is happening," the driver instructed.
Every passenger was becoming agitated and all manner of thoughts running across their minds.
"Or may be some accident had occurred," one passenger said.
Sooner than later, the mate came flying on his heels, laughing. Without being asked as to what was happening, he said what he saw.
"There's a truck that had carted some goods and is parked in the middle of the road. The whole road beyond where he blocked the road is free. And there is this guy whom I presumed was pushing the truck, quarrelling with a driver whose trotro is parked so close to the truck. From the way they were exchanging words, the fault was the driver's. They said he knocked the truck and some of the goods fell off the truck," the mate paused finally with his narration by which time the trotros had started moving.
There was serious laughter again.
"These truck pushers just push their trucks anyhow across the road. Their conduct is simply annoying and I always thank God I'm not a police officer," Mensah said and almost everybody sided with him except that bit about he being a police.
"Even if you're a police officer, how much can you achieve?" a female passenger asked him.
"It's all about doing your job and doing it well. You don't need a lot of people bring about change. And you must radical otherwise you can't succeed."
Nobody alighted on the way until the trotro had completed its journey except that the trotro stopped a couple of times for some passengers to urinate.
"Mate, I have goods in the booth," some of the passengers said as they alight seat by seat and row by row.
They all went their way.