Is That Blood?!? #NSFW

Relax! It's just paint.

Relax! It’s just paint.

On my way to work this morning, I noticed something pretty disturbing. The matatu in front of us had blood on it. It looked like a hand print, and the stain ran down the back in creepy smear. I watched a lot of horrors in my childhood, so in my mind, I pictured someone dragging their bleeding hand all the way down. I conjured up the situations that could call for that reaction, and I physically shuddered.

At first, I thought I was the only one who was uneasy about the blood. Then I saw our driver sidle next to the matatu. He tapped the makanga’s window and whispered to him. He clearly didn’t want any of us to hear, but I was seated right behind the driver, so I heard him ask about the blood. The makanga made a skeptical face, then shut the window. I guess he didn’t believe the driver.

Our matatu weaved onto a different lane, and as we passed, I heard some of the other passengers gasp. One man, who was buried in headphones and oblivious of everyone else, actually yanked them off. His voice was trembling as he asked no one in particular, ‘Wait! Is that blood?’ Our makanga turned to stare at the stain.

As we drove past, he tapped the driver’s window and  yelled. ‘Uko na damu kwa gari yako, simamisha gari ukaipanguze bana!’ Clearly, a messy blood stain was enough to rattle a hardened  makanga. But the driver wasn’t buying it. He gave the same skeptical stare as his makanga, then sped off. I guess he thought we were trying to cut him off or steal his passengers or something.

Matatus racing

I looked around our matatu. Everyone had these shocked looks on their faces, with varying degress of revulsion, and it surprised me. I wondered what it was about the blood that had everyone so upset. I also wondered how far that matatu would go before somebody got off and cleaned the mess, literally.

I wondered about the person whose blood was decorating the matatu. Where are they? What happened to them? Why was the matatu crew ignoring us so blatantly? Were they responsible? Was there guilt hidden behind their apparent skepticism? And why was the blood so offensive in the first place? It’s just blood …

There are lots of situations where that dark red fluid is perfectly acceptable. Like in zombie flicks, or blood banks, or slaughter houses, or mutura servings, or parliamentary protests? Maasai dinner tables. Hell, I deal with the red robot every month! But somehow, seeing it on a stark white background in the middle of traffic was unsettling enough to bother battle-hardened matatu crews.

I imagine it’s about the mystery behind the stain, and the unwelcome reminder of our own mortality. As we all silently wondered whose blood it was and how it had gotten there, we all realised it could just as easily be our own blood. We’re in traffic every day. We ride in matatus with 16 strangers in questionable neighbourhoods at all hours of the day or night.

At any one time, we could become a victim of the kind of thing that leaves random blood stains on the back of said matatu. And with the horror that is our country today, nobody would stop to help you, even if they wanted to. They’d be too scared to get involved. They’d hurry away and pretend they hadn’t seen it. And they’d probably storm off angrily if anyone dared to ask them about it, just like the matatu crew did.

Odd and Even Numbers

Confused? Don’t worry. It’ll make sense in about a minute.

Or maybe they’d stand at a safe distance, watch in disturbed agony, tweet or blog about it, and then go on with their lives. Case in point, just a few minutes later, we were giggling at the Matatu FM caller who didn’t know his odd and even numbers. *cough*cough* teacher’s*strike* cough* Either way, I hope that blood eventually got wiped off, if only to ease a few other people’s time in traffic. And as for whoever the blood belongs to, I hope they’re safe, and their loved ones aren’t wondering why they didn’t come home last night.

Livin’ on a PrayerBon Jovi

4 thoughts on “Is That Blood?!? #NSFW

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