Diary of a Taxi Driver

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story for the Fictional Writing Contest by Ch. R.

Submitted: June 21, 2016

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Submitted: June 21, 2016

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In one summer afternoon, a boy played with a fury cat around a flower garden. At the middle of the garden, it stood a marble statue of the Water Bearer with a jar, pouring water into the fountain pool.

“Where do you think you are going naughty cat!?” Simon yelled, as the cat ran into a mansion, which was a few happy steps away from the flower garden; the mansion belonged to Mr. Charles Maina, his uncle. A twenty eight, roomed house came into reality because of exporting flowers and strawberries abroad. It was an investment that he had made for five years, partnering with quite a number of investors in horticultural marketing sectors.

As a pupil in the celebrated High Ridge Academy, Simon built his reputation as the “nephew of a flower millionaire”; his fellow classmates fondly referred to him. Ironically, he was a silent, composed boy, who did not make a fuss about his uncle’s social status. In fact, the cat is what occupied his thoughts more, compared to the luxuries his uncle provided.

It is uncle Maina’s mansion that the cat decided to change it into a maze for Simon, who was then panting. It did not take long for Simon to trap the restless creature in a study room.

“Wow! It is like the entire knowledge in the universe has been put in these shelves!” the boy exclaimed, as he stood still in the middle of the room. Afterwards, came a deep silence; the sound of a pin hitting the floor would be heard. There were dozens of bookshelves, as compared to his school, where only a single book shelf was put in his class.

As he wondered how his uncle managed to own such a large collection of books, a soft touch on his left leg made him to jump with fright, making some books piled on a study table to fall.

“You shall pay for this!” Simon roared, as he trembled with rage. No sooner had he pulled out a catapult and a stone from his shorts’ back pocket, than when his target stepped on an old, book, coated with a brown cover. An ardent lover of history and old things he was, that he was momentarily hypnotized by the sight of yellowing papers.

“This is strange….. On my palms is the only manuscript that my eyes have set upon!” Simon exclaimed.

Uncle Maina had brought him to the study room on many occasions, where only printed books lay side by side each other, in the wooden shelves. Exploring the study room with careful observations for three years without a sign of manuscripts, or any smell of ink, only made him wonder more and more.

“This is a diary book based on real events”, read the first page he opened. The words were written in black, with a slanted calligraphic angle. This sight took Simon’s mind to fantasies of Captain Cook’s journeys to strange lands, writings penned down using a feather pen on his diaries.

After a blank page, the next page read “Life of Wonders”, with bigger letters, written in bold. The words looked like a title of a magic book. Simon was so captivated with the title, that he closed the diary book, and carried it hurriedly to his bedroom. He felt as though he was about to watch an eagerly, anticipated movie in cinema.

“My opportunity for a better life, away from my village, was made possible by my elder brother, who took me to a driving school. He also paid for my fees. After completing my driving studies, I received my driving license, and became a taxi driver……..” Simon read, as he ate his chocolate.

“During my time as a driver, I had all kinds of passengers and experiences. I carried foreigners, call-girls, spies, robbers, and friends. These are people who gave me money to survive expensive house rents and food prices that sometimes shot to the ceiling, with or without any explanation from the financial ministry.

As I slowly adapted to the city life, I made a lot of friends. Some also allowed me to keep their change, out of kindness or pay for conversing with them on different topics, which were of great interest to them. This kind of interaction in my work made me learn more, and know more about people.

 Although it seemed to be enjoyable to be behind the wheel, it also carried risks with it. Once I carried a nervous man, who had a leather bag with him. He kept on telling me to drive very fast, to no specific destination. It is by reaching the city outskirts, where lighting was less, and silence was more, that I realized that my passenger was a robber. A punch on my jaw, and stealing money that I had made for the day was the gratitude that I got, taking him to a place where the police couldn’t think of finding him; I also suspect that his bag had stolen money.

Out of all the passengers that I have carried, only one passenger who stood out, as far as mystery is concerned.  A woman, maybe in her early or mid-thirties, wearing a long, white dress, as though she was heading for dinner, became my customer during dusky hours, as I headed to deliver tourists’ luggage to Hilton Hotel.

She stopped me by the road side with a calm wave. Methinks that a beautiful woman who walked alone on a road, as the only pedestrian, was akin to a rabbit jumping around the lion-infested savanna!” Simon was almost chocked by his chocolate as he burst to laughter. He also wondered where his uncle got such an interesting manuscript. Having a personal chauffeur to take him to school, he didn’t know of any taxi driver throughout his stay in Nairobi. “Maybe it’s my uncle’s chauffeur!” he thought to himself, remembering the many adventure tales he told him, as he took him to school, or returned him home.

“What in the name is a lovely lady like you doing, walking alone at sunset?!” I asked her, as she got into my cab. “I was waiting for you”. This reply made me feel odd, for I had never seen her since when I started to see. I was certain that she had confused me with another taxi driver, who almost had my looks.

 “Where are you heading to?” “I have no destination.” “No destination!” I wondered aloud. She had no signs of drunkenness, drug abuse or insanity, uttering those words. Total composure is all I read deep in her eyes, as I scrutinized her by the front driver’s mirror. “This must be a joke, in a wrong hour; an hour that people get mugged and defiled….” I thought to myself.

I didn’t know whether to stop the car, and pull her out, or to keep on driving until when she was finally certain, about her destination. At that moment, I was using my fuel to transport someone who didn’t have a stop anywhere; the car was moving at thirty kilometers per hour, to nowhere.

“Your taxi will make you very rich soon” she said. “Sure”, I replied, with a tone of sarcasm. I was deeply convinced that the woman was trying to break the silence in my cab. There was no music, because the radio was spoilt.

Ten minutes later, we finally reached a petrol station for refueling. “Do you want to buy soda or relieve yourself? This is going to be a very long night for us.” “No, I’m fine”. As an adult, I respected her decision, and got out and went to buy myself a packet of groundnuts and a soda, as my cab got refueled. I was also certain that if she was a thief in disguise, nothing of value she would steal. I had the car keys in my jeans’ back pocket.

As I headed back to my yellow cab, I found the back seat empty! She had disappeared into thin air, without paying me for the wasted fuel or waiting for her to remember her destination! The cab’s doors were all locked. “She must be an agent investigating about drug peddlers or money launderers!” I thought to myself, as I got balance for my fuel money, starting the engine to head home. My head was aching out of all that confusion and tiresomeness, brought by the woman. It is highly likely that she was using me as bait. ” Simon read on, though a bit nervous, due to the disappearing act of the strange woman.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

“Your taxi will soon make you very rich,” I remembered her words. Those memories didn’t make my present situation better, realizing that it was already night-time, my watch reading 9pm. This made my adrenaline to rush so fast that I didn’t realize my cab over speeding in a highway. The speedometer was reading 120km/hr! All I wanted was to be in my house safe and sound; doors and windows all locked.

 It just took me twenty minutes for my wish to come true. There was no traffic policeman to stop me, and fine me for dangerously over speeding in the dark, or being arrested for presumed suicide attempt. I was home right at the nick of time.

A radio playing instrumentals and a cold bottle of soda, while seated on my favorite rocking chair, worked the trick in returning me back to my normal self. It was just a few moments before that I was as nervous as a stray cat, hiding from neighborhood dogs.

Sleep is the only thing that I couldn’t make myself to enjoy. Vivid memories of the woman’s words and her mysterious disappearance gave me nightmares throughout the night. Instead of envying the rich, I was envying people who were enjoying their sleep.

Restlessness and rolling between the sheets, went on and on until sunrise. The yellow vehicle parked right outside my house had rested throughout the night; its engine cool and ready for a warm up, throughout the day. “If only we were all like cars; resting for the night, without any nightmares,” I mused.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

My eyes sagging with sleep debt, I struggled with dressing up. Having a cup of tea was not in my menu that morning. Two bananas were sufficient for me, the whole day. Usual breakfast consisted of two cups of tea, and a half loaf of bread, flavored with margarine. Fear of carrying a government agent wasn’t working for my appetite; my tummy was full of anxiety.

Satisfied with the fruits, I got out of my one-bedroom house, opened the car door, and started the engine.

Thirty minutes later, my taxi stopped at a parking lot outside Windsor Resort. Three days ago, a doctor going by the name Prof. James Todd, had called me, confirming whether I would be ready to pick him from the resort, and take him to the airport, at nine o’ clock on the dot. Contrary to African timing, where a nine o’clock can mean eleven or twelve o’clock, I well knew that according to Prof. Todd, as an Englishman, “nine o’clock” had to be exactly nine o’clock.

Staring at my side mirror, I saw four men in three-piece suits walking towards my cab. Amongst them was Prof. Todd, seemingly looking free-spirited and jovial. I really admired the way they talked, their hands expressing their different states of emotions, like Italians do.

After sometime, the left, back door opened, and my first passenger that day, got into my cab. It was a really exciting moment for me, because fees that I charged for taking passengers to airports could fill my cab’s fuel tank for a whole week, and even enjoy a sumptuous meal in a Chinese restaurant.

“I hope that the seminar I had with the rest of the doctors will be taken seriously by your government. Twenty million dollars will be donated by the Swiss government to the Kenyan government, to cater for medical researches. The media was also there,” the professor said, with a calm tone.

“I hope so too….,” I replied, but deep in my mind knowing how corruption ate millions of shillings, vested for the interests of citizens. This thought made me to have a bitter taste, deep inside my throat.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Buses moved to and fro, carrying tourists. Planes were taking off and landing. We had reached the airport.

“Due to your patience and good driving, take this tip and enjoy!” “One hundred pounds?!” I was really astonished and excited at the same time, as he handed me the money. In Kenya Shillings, this was fifteen thousand; a whole salary for an average casual worker!

“Have a jolly day, and see you soon!” Prof. Todd said to me, as he opened the left-back door of the taxi door.

Once again, the words of the strange woman in a long, white dress echoed in my mind once again.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

I was seated on my bed; a bottle of beer weakly held by my right hand. Misery was tormenting me into such trying depths. A week had passed, from the time my cab had been stolen. The incident took place as I went to help out a customer to carry his luggage, from a hotel in the outskirts of Nairobi City.

All that I had been left with as a form of its remembrance was my driving license, despite its old look.

 The fifteen thousand Kenya Shillings that I had been given by Prof. Todd, is the only money that I had to cater for my daily household costs. Deep in my thoughts, having a picture of how bad my financial situation was, made me to contemplate attempting suicide.

It may seem insane to any rational person, if I say that my cab and I had a special relationship. We had seen and experienced a lot of things together. Carjacking, corrupt traffic police, madmen, and strange people, are some of the personalities that made our lives on the road very interesting. It was such a great adventure to say the least.

“I need a strong rope. A rope that will hold me tightly, such that I won’t think about removing it, in case of a second thought,” I said to myself. As I was about to leave my house, my cell phone rang. It was really a confusing state for me, because I was a few hours away to meet death. There was no use to talking to anyone, especially a customer, because there was no cab or someone I could rely on. 

Three times the cell phone rang. A message was also sent. To avoid any further interruptions with my last plan, I decided to read the text message, and text back, to tell the anonymous caller that I was busy.

“Congratulations to you Mr. Charles Maina! You are the sender of the code KBS 19E! You have just won ten million Kenya shillings jackpot! Please visit Sarit Centre gala night this Saturday, and receive your money prize!” the message read. An intense sense of joy filled my heart at that moment. My thoughts were spiraling fast like a tornado.

I could hardly believe that my lost cab’s number plate had won me a grand prize, in a contest that was sponsored by Safaricom, the largest communication firm in East and Central Africa.

After a month of clearing all my excitement, I resolved to buy a two acre piece of land, and start a flower firm. It finally came to the realization of my sub-conscience, that the strange beautiful lady, dressed in a long, white dress was an angel!

My childhood prayers had been answered. Since the time I lost both of my parents when I was just seven years, seeing a guardian angel had always been a prayer in my heart.”

All these truths were so much for Simon’s tender mind that he didn’t know how to react. He had joined all the puzzles in the diary together… His uncle was the taxi driver all along!

“Is it possible the same angel sent the cat into the study room, so that I could learn about my uncle’s real life?” the boy asked himself.

 

Words: 2,702

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Teddy Kimathi. All rights reserved.

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