23 February 2018

KHARTOUMING: Wheels part 3

The door opening can only handle one object at a time, and it is obvious that only one of the flying objects aimed at it would succeed.

Ahmed knows it will be him; prays that it be so. A million years later, he feels his foot hit the metal ledge; victory shall be his! Suddenly the rectangular view is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Ahmed finds himself looking at the underside of the bus, wheels and all, in a whirl of dust and shouts. What has happened? Has he failed to judge his distance correctly? Did he jump too early? But there is no time to think; he must counter-act quickly if he is to make it onto the bus (and avoid being trampled to death). In a flash he is back on his feet, already pushed to the perimeters of the struggling masses, dismissed as a casualty that must occur.

Not one to pause or lament, Ahmed has already switched to plan B: when the door is inaccessible, use the windows. Without thinking twice, Ahmed attaches himself to a passing window and holds on, the outward pressure emitting from the scrabble at the door rippling towards him through the grappling bodies fighting for entry. There are already three other passengers hanging on to the windows to his left and his right, yet he does not worry. Even though his limbs seem to have failed him at first, he is now certain they will not do it again. Sure enough, with some difficulty and a bit of resistance from both the crowds and the window, he pulls himself through the narrow opening grazing his shoulder and back on the metal and ripping his shirt on a stray shred of glass in the process; a small and familiar price to pay. Ahmed lowers himself through the metal frame onto the seat below him breathing a sigh of relief at what seems to him to be the end of his struggle, but then he is arrested by the feeling of a lumpy, leathery object underneath him. Pulling the thing out from underneath him, he stares at a woman’s handbag grasped in his hand. His mind runs blank.


Ahmed jumps a foot in the air, handbag and all. His neck is clutched in grip, catching him in mid-air, as the woman who is supposedly the owner of the bag claims her rightful entitlement to the seat. Ahmed chokes for air, attempting a feeble apology and a plea of misunderstanding, denying any accusations of theft or robbery. Just as he is about to perish at the hands of a 5-foot 4 mass of purple veiled fury, he is chucked aside into the now-tapering crowd, saved from further physical damage by the human cushion. The bus, in the meantime, rolls into motion after approximately 6 seconds from parking. An outsider would think that Ahmed has failed his mission; that he was unable to secure a place on the bus to take him into town.

Featured image: www.skyscrapercity.com (StormShadow)

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