I wasn’t sure how wise the decision to choose that seat was until the little girl’s mother sat next to me. I wasn’t sure that the baby by the mother’s chest was a girl but I concluded that it was a good guess. It was easy to think that way, considering that she was covered in beautiful pink and white shawls. I tried raising my head a bit so that I could peep through the shawls and see her face but the mother was way taller than me so I restrained myself. I didn’t give up though. Curiosity kept me looking in that direction.
We were on the back seat of a matatu and I’d picked the seat by the left window. The girl’s mother was next to me and there was a guy next to her, by the other window.
See, I love seats by the window but more often than not, they carry with them their fair share of baggage. It’s like how you’re told a price is not inclusive of taxes, so even if you enjoy a cheap service, you pay tax so it ends up being expensive. Many times it’s usually the sun that’s on the side of the that you are on bus and you only realize how bad it is when you can’t change seats. I’ve had enough sun incidents in matatus despite my repeated attempts to figure out which direction the sun is shining from before I board. I have gotten used to them so nowadays I accept my fate and resort to basking. At some point I even wrote about it but I guess I got used to it so I didn’t find it important to post it when I arrived.
Anyway, this time it wasn’t the sun, it was the window that kept slipping open every few minutes. I had a feeling that the window would give me trouble now that the sun was on a break and when I felt a cold breeze a few minutes into the journey, it only confirmed my fears.
I would have thought about how unfair fate was being with me but this once it was ok. For that little girl’s sake. I would close that window every time it slipped open so that little girl would be safe from the cold breeze. It didn’t worry me much that I’d be seated there for more than a hundred kilometers and I had to close it several times every ten kilometers. I would do it for her. It wasn’t only me. The guy by the other window was working twice as hard, literally. I didn’t understand why he had to use so much effort to close a window that would open at the next pothole. At some point I really wanted to tell him to relax, you know, take life easy and use less effort but I figured that the music player was too loud to allow conversation. Then I thought maybe his window was in a worse state and would’ve needed that much effort but in retrospect, I think he was doing it for her. For that cute little girl swaddled in pink.
It didn’t help that the driver was overspeeding and every time he hit a pothole or braked suddenly I had to do my window routine. The guy would then do his with twice as much effort. We were okay with that; at least I was, but the problem was that the instability of the matatu woke the little girl. It was already an agonizing ride for those adults amongst us that were awake and I could only guess how much worse it was for her when she woke up. Her mother tried holding her closer to her chest, as firmly as she could but it didn’t help much since she was being sprung off her seat like the rest of us. Every time that happened, the little girl got affected.
When she couldn’t take it any more, she expressed herself the best way she could. She cried. I knew it was a cry of agony and I was sorry for her but I couldn’t help that think it was one of the most beautiful cries I’ve ever heard. I thought it was cute… how she sounded, that it was better than listening to the annoying noises from the matatu’s music player. It wasn’t those screeching sounds that annoy. It was just a sincere cry by a little girl who was only a few days old and couldn’t understand how we survived such rides. Maybe she was being toughened, getting a lesson about the cruelty of a world she was new to. We wouldn’t be sure, but I was certain that the expression on her face and the strain on her forehead were signs that all the shoving around wasn’t easy on her.
When she couldn’t calm down, a man offered his more comfortable seat ahead of us so that the mother would be able to feed the little girl. Once they were settled and she had fed, the mother uncovered her a bit and I was able to see her face. Her toothless smile and a general look of contentment. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about the shoving so much. 🙂
I didn’t know much about the driver or the other passengers who didn’t mind that the vehicle was being driven too fast. I couldn’t blame those who agreed with me but didn’t do much about it. I understand that it was getting late and everyone wanted to get to town soonest possible. I just felt that if the driver was one of the passengers who saw the little girl’s agony, they would have driven better for her sake. For the mere reason that she deserved a better introduction to the world and the fact that she was only a few days old and needed to cry less so she could spare as much energy as she possible. People would have done a lot to ensure that she was comfortable.
That cute little girl all covered in pink and white. She made us selfless. She made us endure discomfort for her sake. Optimism. She helped us be positive about our situations and when things got better for her, her gesture of appreciation was a beautiful smile. 🙂
That little girl brought out the best of us in that period of time we were in that matatu.
Maybe the world would be a better place if there were more little girls with beautiful cries around us. It leads me to think about what more the world would do for that little girl…