Over the grumbling of vehicle engines, honking, voices that drowned each other, I heard the thumps, amplified. I saw the source when I turned. A bus conductor was receiving heavy blows from a guy.
He was hanging on the door of the Danfo in the manner characteristic of bus conductors. He probably sold his seat, or maybe, didn’t even have one.
This other guy was standing by the bus, heaving him heavy blows on the chest.
“Come down na, come down na,” he told the conductor, his expression threatening in a militant way.
As the bus moved slowly in traffic, this guy followed it in backward paces, giving the conductor more blows on the chest.
Some other six guys were with him. He told them the conductor “capped careless.” They too joined in, delivering slaps one after the other.
The passengers were quiet, the driver too. The conductor could have bent in and shut the door, but he didn’t. He just stood there receiving the blows as they came, quiet as though he were watching the scene— a spectator like the rest of us. I didn’t want him to bend in and shut the door. He didn’t.
This happened the day before yesterday at Rumuokoro, and I think he made a wise decision not to fight. It would have been foolish to. Besides, he was on a job. The bus was a job he couldn’t have abandoned, not even for a split second.
As I walked away from the scene, I kept thinking about this man, of all those like him in cities all over the world who though suffering, are resolute to make it. And whether or not they do at the end of the day, hope would have kept them running for many years.
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