Monday, April 29, 2013

The scary smoky tower


Our taxi driver drove along the streets of Bonanjo and turned right. We came to an abrupt halt at a barricade. Looking ahead, I immediately guessed the reason for the blockade and exclaimed fearfully, pointing at what was lurking ahead of us. A huge black puff of smoke was rising steadily into the sky like a dreadful genie spiraling out of a magic lamp in the Sinbad movies. It was so big and so black. It was scary. It was a big smoky tower of Babel. I began thinking instantly about air pollution and how this smoky skyscraper was playing a big role in contributing to global pollution and even global warming. There were many people around the base of the smoke tower and the flames that produced it; watching, ululating, taking photos of the burning thing with their phones. I couldn’t quite make out what it was. I tilted my head to the left or right to see what had been engulfed in the flames, together with the other passengers. “C’est une voiture, c’est une voiture, it’s a car, it’s a car,” said two passengers almost at the same time. But we couldn’t quite make out what kind of car it was. Our taxi driver reversed his taxi and drove to the airport using another road. (I wondered if he had thought about his old car suffering from the same fate!). I turned half round and kept staring at the retreating black cloud, as it arched upwards in disjointed whiffs; a big black Iroko tree of black fumes! It’s only when I arrived at my work place, that a colleague told me it was a big SOCATUR bus which had caught fire at the back, precisely the engine. And she went on lamenting about the state of the public SOCATUR buses. They are never maintained even though they make a lot of money, (the government does nothing about their horrible state). They keep plying the roads day in, day out. The engine of that particular one was already too too hot. She could never embark one. It was a death trap. Luckily, all those who were traveling by this one had escaped when the fire started so there were no casualties. And instead of putting out the fire, all those who were around the burning thing were busy taking photos. Nonsense, she concluded. I laughed for a whole minute.