My mind flew to my car’s co-driver seat where four beastly creatures and a fifth monstrous one stared angrily at me. Growling, they looked ready to pounce as I opened the driver’s door.
“Ah! Bwana we! Unataka nikae vipi?” Nilimuuliza utingo aliyekuwa anajaribu kuweka mzigo fulani chini ya miguu yangu.
“Inua miguu, jamani,” alijibu huku akiishiwa na subira.
“Siinui ng’o!” Nilijibu kwa fadhaa.
“Aaah! Inua miguu bwana! Kwani unadhani wewe ndiye nani?”
“Sitainua. Utaninyima raha hadi lini wewe? Kwani sijalipia nafasi yangu kwenye matatu hii? Umenifinya vya kutosha kwa kujaza matatu kupindukia, na sasa unataka niinue miguu pia? Haiwezekani!”
“Acha ukorifi, jamaa. Hii ni matatu sio gari binafsi. Kama unataka starehe jinunulie gari.”
“Ni haki yangu kustarehe kwenye matatu nikichagua kusafiri kwa matatu. Kwani umenibeba bila malipo? Si nimelipia nafasi hii? Kama nimeilipia, nina haki ya kustarehe.”
“Eih! Inua miguu wewe! Kwani tutaishi hapa?” Abiria mmoja alibisha. Wengine pia walikuwa wameanza kunung’unika.
“Siwezi!” Nilijibu kwa ugombezi. “Watu kama nyinyi ndio mnasababisha tunakanyagwa kiasi hiki. Sasa ona tulivyofinyana. Matatu inafaa kubeba watu kumi na wanne lakini humu ndani tuko zaidi ya ishirini. Na nauli tumelipa, tena kiwango cha juu sana. Mnakubalije kutendewa hivi?”
“Of course, he gets so much!” said Todd with a smirk. “He needs the money!”
Greg’s smile faded as his eyes fell to his shoes, his mouth parting a little.
His chest tightening, Tush’s mind raced. Todd’s and Greg’s voices faded as he harked back to previous comparable encounters.
Outside a church in Michigan, a female worshipper politely pointed out that Tush was the blemish in the white congregation.
At lunch at a common room in a housing coop, the janitor, overhearing a conversation between Tush and his housemates, sought to adroitly educate Tush’s white mates about the barbarism of Tush’s black background.
Over a phone call, a friend recounted how on numerous occasions she had been spoken down to at cafes and other places…
“That is so freaking bigoted!” Tush wanted to scream.
For a brief moment, he thought he felt his face become a shade darker.
What says, ‘I need money’ on me? He mused as his eyes searched Greg’s features. At an inch or two taller than his workmate and more or less a similar thin but fit body build, the only difference he could see between Greg and himself was a tummy that could potentially drag his co-worker out of shape soon if nothing was done.
“So, my skin color sets me apart in this “equal opportunity employer” premises, huh?” He wanted to yell what he had always known but had never wanted to admit.
“That is it!” he suddenly bellowed.