Out of the blue, a live turkey rushed across the road and was almost bashed by the bus! The driver screamed obscenities at the bird.
“You bald headed chicken!” he sealed off his tirade of insults.
The driver was speeding off out of Choma town, enroute to Livingstone, the tourism capital of Zambia where all the single pretty ladies are either pregnant or have a baby.
I was on the bus. The incident with the turkey was just a snippet of the drama on this journey. The drama started off right before departure at the Inter-City Bus Terminus in Lusaka. As I bought my ticket, I saw one of the bus drivers from the fleet of buses I was boarding busy getting drunk on ‘tu Jilijili’. I got worried and inquired from the ticket seller whether the drunk driver was on duty.
Thank God. I said to myself and went on to board the bus. Ten minutes later the bus was full and good and ready to roll out. That’s when the serious drama began. A self proclaimed preacher entered the bus, with a Bible in hand and without asking for our permission, he started preaching. He screamed and jumped about and walked to the back of the bus and back to the front with so much fire in him. He scared the shit out of many of the passengers with his message. He warned us of the flames of hell if we did not repent. He emphasized that we would never ever have a glimpse of the heavenly gates or say hi to the patron saint of the gates of heaven, Saint Peter, for as long as we remained sinful!
However, if we loosened our tight fists; if we flipped open our wallets and cheque books; if we unzipped our wallets, purses and gave generously to his ministry, heaven would open its gates to us.
“Give your best! Don’t give God your pocket change! Give your all and you will receive heaven!”
Alas! Even after such a spirited performance, after his sermon, the man just walked out of the bus with a handful, of ‘one pins’.
“Greedy bastards.” I thought I heard him say under his breath.
Anyways, it was time to leave and the driver finally entered and sat behind the wheel. To my shocking surprise, it was the drunk driver! Goodness, gracious me! I thought the bugger was off!
Before long, he started the engine and zigzagged out of the station, crushing into one or two street vendors’ stands that where on the side of the road.
The owners of the stands tried to protest but they were shut up by some unprintable words that shot out of the driver’s foul mouth like bullets from a machine gun.
I protested and demanded to get off the bus.
“Just sit down. This bus has been prayed for!”
This was suicide! The bus was speeding along Church road when the driver’s cell-phone rang and he answered it whilst still driving. He kept on talking on the phone as he sped us from Church road, into Cairo and then into Kafue. Speeding and over-taking tractors and fuel tankers on Kafue road with one hand on the steering-wheel and the other pressing the cell-phone against his ear.
What kind of a driver was he? He must have done his driving at the same horrible school that I went to. The school had more students than cars which meant five of us shared one car per lesson. I remember one day, five learner drivers, including myself, were bundled in a car that had faulty brakes and a broken door on the driver’s side. How the hell were we going to learn in such a car?
“One of you should hold the door, and the one who is driving should make sure that he starts braking early and don’t put too much pressure on the clutch. Don’t worry, I’ll be guiding you!” The Instructor explained.
“Now, can you contribute ma ten pin, we buy gas.” The bastard of an instructor added.
Off onto Kafue road, the first learner driver timidly steered the car, one of us was holding the door to keep it from falling off its hinges. When we approached traffic lights the instructor said softly: “Start braking.” And the driver did it accordingly. The first drive went on smoothly.
Next, was one of our colleagues who already had a driver’s licence. He was only doing the lessons to refresh himself because he’d not driven in two years.
He got the car keys.
I got hold of the door.
He started the engine.
I held the door firmly.
He joined the main road and pressed his foot down on the accelerator. The speedometer went up to 120Km/h!
We all screamed.
The man held the steering wheel firmly and beads of sweat appeared on his nose! He was out of control and the car zigzagged and strayed into the lane for on-coming cars. We all screamed as he missed an oil tanker and almost hit into a tractor!
The instructor screamed: “Start braking!!” But the learner driver’s foot seemed to be glued to the acceleration peddle.
“Mayo!” Someone screamed.
The stupid driver pressed his foot on the brakes! That was it. The car lost control, overturned and hit into a tree.
I woke up at the hospital, bandages around my head with my bandaged leg hanging up.
I guess I wasn’t as lucky as the turkey!
But anyway back to the present day, the drunk driver sped us towards Livingstone! I reached for my notebook and pen and started writing down my will. I was very sure that history would repeat itself.
The bus hit a pot hole and veered off the road. The women on the bus screamed and I saw one of them speaking on the phone, barking instructions to whoever was on the other side of the line.
“Don’t forget to get my money from bana Kabwe… she owes me, K1, 000, 000! And tell Joseph that I haven’t forgotten what he did to me! I may not see him again but he’s still a devil!”
In such a situation, I think a prayer would be more ideal.
Suddenly, the bus came to a screeching halt and some of the passengers were thrown off their seats. The passengers protested and some of them even threatened to beat up the driver. The driver cowered in his seat and remained quite.
In front of the bus, three elephants were crossing the road. No wonder we had stopped like that. The bus could have bashed these animals.
Thank God, finally we were in Livingstone.