An Old Trick


Eewa! Wonder Guchu It was the least thing I expected to see happening here. And being a Sunday, it just struck me odd. But then when I later sat down and recalled the whole thing, I exploded in laughter. I was not supposed to laugh, honestly. A man had lost what he was supposed to earn. He had burnt his petrol and rubbed tyres just to drop a passenger, but for what? Stop wondering what this is all about. It involves a taxi driver, of course. This time it’s not clear whether the taxi driver is one of the notorious ones or he was just unfortunate to be treated like that. I boarded a taxi to the city along Tugela Road in Wanaheda last Sunday around 9 am. Two streets ahead, two other passengers hopped in. I realized that the tall ‘gentleman’ in dirty white shorts, sandals and a T-shirt was drunk as his breath reeked of alcohol every time he breathed. He asked the driver to take him to Havana. The day was promising to be hot and the taxi was cruising with the soothing music by a Herero group playing. Every time we came to a turn, the man directed the driver until it appeared as if we would never reach a destination. At last and seemingly at the edges of Windhoek where the roads lead to the hills, the man asked the driver to stop. Getting out of the car, he told the driver that he was collecting some money from his house and would be coming back. He staggered across the road, doddered along the edges of the dusty road, avoided three women who were selling some foodstuffs and disappeared into the zinc shelters. The taxi driver sat there, waiting while the soulful and inspiring Herero music played on. After about five minutes, the other passenger who had hopped into the taxi together with the one who was collecting money asked whether he (the one who had gone) was coming back. The taxi driver seemed unperturbed but kept his eyes at the opening between the zinc shelters through which the man had gone. I knew then that the man had no money and that he had gone for good. It’s an old trick. I could not, however, tell the taxi driver that he had been had. I sat back and waited for new developments. What would one do on a lazy Sunday in a quiet Windhoek except enjoy free movie-like scenes like that one? About ten minutes later, three men in shorts and canvas shoes – what they call mapantsula style in South Africa – emerged from the shacks. A short fellow whose dark face had scars led them. Without getting anywhere near the taxi, Scarface ordered the taxi driver to leave because the man who had disappeared in the forest of shacks was not coming back. The three women who were sitting beside the road just looked as if this was happening on television. Even the children who were playing nearby and had heard and seen everything did not stop. This was nothing to them but probably a daily occurrence. The taxi driver gunned the engine and rolled out of the area at break-neck speed. All the way to town, he did not say anything and the CD played on. The taxi driver nodded his head and tapped on the steering wheel as if nothing had happened. I looked ahead trying hard not to laugh loudly until the moment the taxi dropped me in town where I sat on the pavement and roared out in laughter. Eeeeeeewaaaaa! He had been had!