19 May Chronicles of the Ambulance Driver
By Julie Mulongo
Today is my day off! ‘My kind’ rarely gets that, I can’t help but marvel at it. But I know it never lasts and honestly,I wish it doesn’t because normalcy freaks me out…but since I’ve not been summoned, I decide to take a stroll in town.Perhaps a walk by the beach or some interesting place with a lot of people will cheer me up.
I don’t know where specifically in town I want to go.Its not like I don’t know the streets, nah I have the whole town’s blueprint in the palm of my hand. I can even comfortably sprint through it with my eyes closed. I know all the busiest, scariest, filthiest, lively, calmest and most secure parts of this city. So am in a matatu heading to a part I know I wouldn’t be all alone but again I wouldn’t find a lot of people.
Suddenly just when we’ve survived the 30 minutes traffic jam, a siren sound is heard from behind and everyone curses. ‘Aaah sasa ata inatoka side ya hosi inaenda wapi na mambio ivo‘ . ‘Hakuna mgonjwa apo izo ni mihadarati...’ .’ Hawa madereva hupenda tu kutuzuzua barabarani’ ‘He just wants to be given space, and he’s not going anywhere important’ . ‘Pengine anaenda kuchukua mgonjwa jamani…’ .’ Huyu si wa Corona, wale huwa wamejivaa overalls kubwa, sasa anajifanya ako important ya nini?’. (The conductor). ‘ Aah dogo langu, kaa macho, akifika tu unamfuata unyo unyo…’. Suffice to say the matatu was boisterous. At some point , I couldn’t hear any of it. I was so shocked at their apathy that hurtful tears fought to stream down my face and ended up stinging my eyes instead, I felt choked, I couldn’t stand these people.
That signed my destination fate, I decided to alight there. The conductor was reluctant because I’d delay his plan of the ambulance pursuit, but he let me out anyway.My physical appearance wouldn’t let anyone try anything, yeah I am obsessed with work but I spare some time working out. I’d prefer walking around marveling at women frying food ,which I wouldn’t dare let anywhere near my mouth and vendors shouting praises of their goods than sit there and listen to such apathy.
It aches because they don’t know what I go through everyday. They don’t know that I can’t live a normal life anymore, that my sleep ends shortly after midnight because of stops I made on roads. That despite the speed I used, how many times I wished I’d gone a little faster or had got that call earlier.They don’t know that I rarely look at my surroundings while i speed to hospital. I don’t even recall what building was built, renovated or painted on my routes because my whole v being is pulsing with the urge to get to the hospital gate, to rush the patient to that surgery room or Intensive Care center…they don’t understand. How can they understand though?That I never wish to change the siren sound. The many consolation hugs I’ve given the bereaved, the worn out nurses and medical assistants that saw the patient’s souls depart I’ve had to pat in the back. How much blood and crushed body parts I’ve seen being picked from the roads and badly damaged cars…and through all this, I still have to smile at people not knowing when I’ll be summoned to come carry them next
By Julie Mulongo