THE MALAVA TRAVELLERS 012

BRUNO went to the back of the bus and made the last-row seats his bed. Syp and Lodoviko settled about the middle; and Lady G. was still standing when C The D roused the engine and then started Genge music--and the climate in the bus became grand.


Bruno made his backpack his pillow, and lying supine on the back seats, lit his roll. Let us not forget that he has a guitar, which he now started playing. His fingers were rigid; and the tune disappointed him. He placed the guitar on the next seat, and smoked some more.

Lake Victoria | Photo by Afrilenstories
Lake Victoria | Photo by Afrilenstories

--Lady G. observed all this. She smiled to herself; but did not come to disturb Bruno--she went to the front, to sit with C The D, who was steering the bus out of Kisumu City’s traffic.


To those who’ve ever sampled Bruno’s roll, how does it taste like? Is it like a cigarillo? Do tell us someday.


Anyway, Bruno was smoking his roll away. He laid one leg over the other, and placed his free hand over the chest. A song came to his mind, and he started singing to himself. The lyrics of the song soon dragged out, and then fell and dissolved under a tranquil layer of contemplation. Out of the layer, a thought about this or that thing would jut out, and his mind would grab and ruminate over it, before the idea fell back into the expanse of misty notions and memories.


He had chosen to join this trip. It would provide a critical variation to his life. Now he was on speaking terms with Syprosa, whom he had never spoken with back at home. This was a good thing. Glad he also was about learning to be patient with people like Lodoviko; who was loud and annoying--but generous. But why had Lady G. refused him?

--Was he fat? No...some women liked big men. Was it because of money? No--no--no--that could not be it. Maybe Lady G. only wanted to enjoy herself during the trip. She wanted to experience the Kenyan culture--see the wild--connect with the people--without any entanglements. And that was all right; Bruno told himself; he would support Lady G. access the finest of the Kenyan experience.


He smoked some more.


He’d exit his rumination and hear the music that C The D played in the bus; he would see the lights from vehicles reflecting off the windows--and then he would vanish into his thoughts again.

--He thought about his grandmother. He loved her. She was controlling but caring. He had rejected the job she sourced for him. He did not want to be a police officer like she did. Chase after criminals? No. He would turn twenty-five in a few months. They expected him to secure a job. He was a graduate after all. Secure a job; work in the city--like his uncle and auntie. And then settle into a marriage. And live.


--Heck--


--The bus had braked by the road--suddenly.


Bruno became alert.


All this time, C The D had smelt weed about, but she did not know wherefrom the smoke issued. Lady G., who sat by her, was not smoking. Syprosa and Lodoviko were lovebirding themselves, but not smoking. When C The D repositioned the rearview mirror, she saw the ember from Bruno’s burning roll. She stopped the bus by the road. And turned on the lights.


“Big man!” said C The D. “What is his name?” she said to Lady G.


“Bruno,” said Lady G.


“You!” said C The D, “Bruno!”


Bruno sat up.


“No weed in my bus. I have no money for Karaos. You get caught, you go alone.”


“You don’t have to scream,” said Bruno, restoring the roll into the backpack.


“Open your windows,” said C The D--and the journey resumed. They were on their way toward Ahero town.


Now Bruno found his phone, and visited Site F; where he posted an update. He mentioned that he was traveling with a group of friends--the most exciting bunch he had ever met. They were traveling across the country in a big bus. If anybody wished to join them, he/she should catch them in Nakuru town or Nairobi City in two or three days--more updates to follow. And he attached a photo of himself with Lady G., which he had taken discreetly.


*

SYPROSA had never been closer to an older, male adult before. Let us recall that she hardly spoke with her father; and that she was more comfortable in the university than at home. Did she wish that the bond between herself and her father was stronger? Perhaps. Anyway, at this very moment she was sitting next to Lodoviko. She was not speaking to him, but her head was on his shoulder; and her hand on his knee.


Thus posed, she remembered her boyfriend.


They had dated for three years now, total. They’d started soon after highschool. He was tall and dark; with big eyes and thick lips. He wasn’t handsome--but he loved her in a manner she believed no other male could. Yet as we had observed earlier, they weren’t speaking now.


A feeling unlike love and unlike friendship stirred in her as the bus advanced. This is what she felt for old Lodoviko. For the last few days, he had made her feel content. What Lodoviko felt about her she did not know--and she wanted to discover:


Photo by Afrilenstories

“Your heart is beating fast,” she said. Her head was on his shoulder, and her ear could catch his heart’s throbbings.


“Does it?” said Lodoviko.


“What are you thinking?”


“This journey is beautiful.”


Syprosa raised her head off his shoulder; but the hand remained on the knee.


“Tell me what you want,” she said, in the softest voice she could make under the sound of the moving bus.


“What do you mean, Little Flower?”


“You know what I mean.”


“I am not a young bull.”


Syprosa blushed. “I don’t mind.” She rubbed Lodoviko’s knee, then up the thigh, by inches.


Lodoviko pressed his legs together, to stop the rise. Then at once he looked Syp in the face, and said, “What do you want from a withered man?”


--Syp grabbed his chin, and kissed him on the lips; Lodoviko turned his face away, slowly.


At the front Lady G. and C The D had not spoken much. Lady G. had been typing on her phone while C The D concentrated on the wheel. Now C The D said, “Yellow-yellow.”


“Mmh?” said Lady G.


“You got light skin, is what I mean,” said C The D.


“Ha ha. I don’t refuse the nickname. Though yours is cooler.”


“Hah. You fellas are raw, I say,” said C The D after a moment.


“Mhm?”


“You are real. Big man smokes weed. Small girl there with grandpa. What about you?”


“Myself?”


“Yah, what’s your deal?”


“Nothing. I am myself.”


“Hah.”


“--And what is it about Bruno’s smoking? --And Syprosa with Lodoviko--aren’t they lovely?”


“Syprosa,” said C The D, while lighting a cigarette with one hand, “what a name.”


Now let us leave our friends alone on the road toward Mbita, with journey mercies upon them.