Her veins popping out of her shiny dark brown forehead like tap roots, I watched her with building annoyance as she handed me her equally dark brown drooly baby. I hate it when people do this, hand me their children in a taxi because I do not have excess baggage. Am I a baby magnet?
The drooly baby in my hands spreads a toothless gummy smile at me as more cold saliva slides down to my forearm, playing different chords at my heartstrings. I smile at it grudgingly. This is a beautiful child, drool, gums and all. I tear my gaze away from it and turn it to its mother and I watch as she struggles to free another child from her back.
“How many children can one have in this economy?” I wonder. She gives me a hurried apologetic smile and I scowl back at her. How am I going to write my UGblog story on my phone if my hands are full?
“Nyabo, yanguwa, emotoka bagenda zita,” The taxi tout calls out to her that she make it quick because the traffic cops are about to let the Entebbe road taxis go. Apparently, they had been held at Shoprite from 6 pm. Currently, it’s 8.20 pm, either the President or his visitor or both are making their way from Entebbe to Kampala.
As Mama Baby settles in next to me without so much as a hello, I stare out the window, watching and listening to the usual traffic chaos.
The heavily bearded Muslim man vending dates in a woven basket, occasionally counter preaching the Christian preacher with “facts,” from the Holy Koran, matching them with the scriptures from the Holy Bible, somewhere at the back someone is selling internet settings and SIM cards with your preferred number. Because of the heat, the conductor slides the door open. I breathe in dust and oil fumes from the road works nearby, the mix is interrupted by an unwanted stench as a torch seller walks by announcing his everlasting torches. The conductor gets rid of him with a command to go take a bath.
My left arm starts going to sleep. I shift Baby into the crook of my right hand; it awards me with a happy gurgle. I cannot tell if it is boy or a girl. I lean in closer with a smile and I catch a whiff of Rose Baby Powder. It is such a memorable scent because I used to wear Rose Baby Powder in senior one and two; I had been told it cured acne and yet my face continued to stay infested by all sorts of pimples.
Baby demands my attention by grabbing my index finger in its tiny fist and continues to make it something edible. I do not trust my hygiene, so I pry it out and tickle it as I wondered how it would feel to have a baby.
The driver turns on the ignition and the taxi coughs to life, an indication that we are finally heading home. I hold Baby firmly into my bosom and I wonder how this is coming to me so naturally and why Mama Baby has not asked to check on her baby yet, but she is busy murmuring things to the one in her lap.
We are so lucky today, the Clock Tower lights are green, Queen’s Way is clear all the way, if Kibuye roundabout is clear as well; I will be home in just fifteen minutes or under – which is quite unusual on that road of ours but it happens, sometimes.
I shift Baby again, how do mothers do this? My arms feel like pins and needles! I watch shadows from the streetlights dance all over Baby’s face. I see a bit of myself in Baby but I brush off the image, it just would not make sense.
Judging by the speed our driver is going, it is evident he has a heavy foot. I start worrying about Baby and it is just silently staring at me with a smile. I wish I could be this trusting. I check on the mother but she has completely ignored me since she handed me Baby. What kind of mother is she?
We reach Zana in no time and Mama Baby alights. She struggles to get out of the taxi, carefully maneuvering the sleeping child not to hit their head against the doorframe. She pays the conductor, I lean over to hand her Baby but she ignores me some more. I call her out, ‘Nyabo, omwana wo!’
‘Wanji?’ as she turns back.
‘Omwana wo omwelabide,’ as I made to leave the taxi so I can pass on Baby to her.
‘Nyabo, oy’omwana wo, wamunkwasiza nga oyingila taxi.’
I am sorry, what?
Photo Credit: Demetrice