Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: How Miss Red Eyes Got Her Rocking Burial Outfit


Today is one of those days where everything that can possibly go wrong, does go wrong. After one hiccup too many, the worst happens and I find myself aboard an N.M (NightMare) taxi. A nightmare taxi is the taxi that prowls the roads late in the afternoon with one or two passengers on board. The driver will wait up to five minutes for you to board pretending to be in a hurry but as soon as you sit, you become invisible. He will proceed to stop every five minutes, make so many detours and if you are patient enough, by the time you disembark, you will feel as if you have been in the Paris-Dakar rally.

So it in this situation that Miss red eyes joins me and one other passengers on the northern bypass. She promptly whips out her smart phone and we soon find out the cause of her red eyes. Apparently her sister’s husband just passed away in a road accident on his way from Mombasa. We soon learn that mulamu was the most generous, loving and kindest man alive. No surprises there at least because all dead people tend to be saints especially on their funerals.

This Mulamu paid school fees, did the school run, topped up the inadequate pocket money etc. So for the bigger part of the journey, Miss red eyes is in a flood of tears and soon runs out of hankies so she has to improvise with her sweater, causing me to shed a tear or two for my own dead of course. This goes on until one of the called friends brings up the issue of the burial arrangements and this time she completely loses it as if she has just discovered the biggest tragedy so far. “Banange what will I wear?” she screams heartbreakingly into the phone.

Exhibiting advanced stages of the invisible wardrobe syndrome that affects middle class women, she tears down her closet with admirable sufficiency. Apparently the cobalt blue Kitenge which she wore at a friend’s funeral will not do because it didn’t look good in the pictures. Her friend advises her to find out if the Senegalese woman who deals in Kitenge on Buganda road has any new stock. That seems to comfort her until she realizes that her braids which by the way looked perfect to me won’t do and she promptly calls her hairdresser. She then calls a Betty to bring her the shades she left at her place because her Dior shades have lost their sheen on the rims. Next call goes to Susan whom she tasks to find her the shade of lipstick she found her wearing last week. Then she books herself for a facial, nails and eyebrows. She asks Lillian to get her a black dress ring like hers or lend her hers because it matches her bag.  By now Miss red eyes is of course is no longer in tears, her demeanor is that of a miss world beauty contestant on the eve of the pageant finale.

As I watched the drama unfold, I got wondering about how times have changed from when people would not even bother to brush their teeth when a close family member died to today’s trend of matching outfits, flashy jewelry and generally turning the funeral into a fashion show. Anyway, may Mulamu’s soul rest in peace. And to Miss red eyes, I hope your outfit came out well in the pictures considering the effort you put in. And thank you for making my time on that nightmare taxi worthwhile, I had fun watching you.

Hey, I am a Ugandan woman who spends a minimum of four hours daily travelling in taxis. Like you, I used to dread the taxi rides until I realized that it is a source of a variety of free entertainment and an interesting study of human nature