#Article (Archive)

Beauty, a curse or a blessing?

Mar 31, 2011, 2:31 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

Fatima Jallow was staring out of space, seeing yet not seeing. An onlooker might think that she was in a fix, staring into nothingness. She was so engrossed in her own world that she couldn’t hear the conductor demand for her fare. When he tapped her on the shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her seat and opened her eyes trice their size. The conductor couldn’t help but smile and reveal his yellowing teeth. One of his front teeth was missing and it formed a big gap. He kept admiring Fatima’s heart-shaped face, straight nose and deep dark eyes. For a girl of twenty-three, she looked younger; she could have passed for a mannequin with those great legs and slender body. The conductor kept on staring at her because it wasn’t everyday that he had a pretty girl in his van.

Fatima had to remind him that his hand was still on her shoulder by shaking that part of her body. He quickly removed his hand as if she was a hot metal and he didn’t want to get burn. Fatima rolled her eyes sky-ward in disgust. She had had a bad day from her boss’ sexual harassment. He had been pestering her ever since her first day at work. If she agrees, he would give her a promotion – from being a public relations officer to a producer. Fatima wanted more than anything to be a producer in that TV station, but what he wanted would be the last thing she would do. Touching her behind today was the last straw she would and could take. She had decided to turn in her resignation letter tomorrow first thing in the morning. That had given her enough head-ache and the conductor’s straying eyes was the last thing she needed. She was about to give him her fare when the driver pressed his foot hard on the brakes bringing the van to a sudden stop and everybody in it vehemently jolted forward, stopping only because of the seats in front. The driver and the passenger in front would have gone through the windscreen if not for the seatbelts the police have enforced.

“Driver dang nyu buga reye hana?!” screamed a big woman with a child on her lap. Her head-tie had gone out of place to reveal a weave she had on.

“Yoni jama soriwut, wolaye,” said another.

“Danga stone tedut, waye dinga hamneh nyola gena stone,” this was coming from a thin, tall man with dirty dread-locks hanging down his shoulder.

“Hamga man nyata att mangi Jollof munu ma tuki, teh suma morom yi yep tekhi neng?!” This seemed obviously rehearsed, thought Fatima, he probably always say this whenever he has the chance and to anyone who cares to listen.  

“Du driver bi moma buga overtake,” said the driver.

“Waye lolu tahut nga buga nyo send to an early grave,” Fatima put in.

The conductor only kept gaping at her, he seemed to like the way her lips pronounced every word. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as if swallowing each letter of the words she said, and he had a sheepish grin on his face.

An old woman sitting at the back with a turquoise veil draped around her kept monotously repeating “Allahu Akbar,” the prayer beads in her hand making a “Chis chis” sound as she counted her prayer.

“Maye wah tamit, muss bu stupid bi muye pass suma kanam, du lolu motahit ma gena brake sah,” the driver hissed under his breathe and muttered a curse between gritted teeth after saying this.

“That’s no excuse driver,” Fatima said and the conductor only kept grinning.

“Meye ma fi yow apprentice yak sa driver bu stupid bi,” another young lady demanded.

The conductor beat the van with all his might to signal the driver to pull over so that the passenger could alight. The driver hit the brakes non-too gently and the conductor practically jumped off the car while the van skidded to a halt.

“Du li laye waye!” the young lady said.

“Wachal, ah, ninga stupid, you too,” the driver retaliated. The woman after getting off the van replied with torrents of insults as the van sped by. Minutes later, the van stopped at its destination and everybody got off.

“Hey, sa fare bi,” Fatima reminded the conductor as she gave him a five-Dalasis note.

As she sauntered on hurriedly, she could feel the conductor’s eyes on her back and the other conductors hanging by, waiting for the next trip, gave her suggestive whistles and sneers. And all she could do was pretend as if she didn’t hear them and wish that she were plain and unnoticeable