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It’s rude, unhygienic to eat in matatu

had just settled in my seat on Maybach — a popular jav in my home route — when a woman cradling a sleeping baby motioned me to scoot over. I was sitting by the aisle with the seat by the window unoccupied. I stood up to let her in and her child woke up in the process. I was so hungry and home was an hour away. Given Ongata Rongai’s traffic madness, I knew that it would be a while before I got home. It had been a busy day and I didn’t get the chance to take lunch. I was starving.

Before boarding the nganya, I’d dropped by a convenient store to buy a bottle of water and juice. I don’t like eating when I’m in a matatu though, because I find it rude and also unhygienic. It’s unsettling to see people eating in such an environment. Not only is the aroma torture to others, but also you expose your body to all kinds of germs brought in by other passengers from wherever they are coming from. This is a public space with strangers who may have contagious illnesses. Imagine someone sneezing around you while you eat. Jeez, let me not get into this right now.

I will, however, admit that I strawed down the juice hurriedly before the mathree filled up. I was the third person in the nganya and by the time my seatmate came in, I was done with the juice. Yeah, so she settles in and her baby immediately dishes out a fascinated glare at my hair. She must have been staring at the brass accessories on my locks. I kind of assessed her gaze severally before coming to this conclusion.

I open my water bottle and gulp it down in massive sips. This earns the baby’s attention again. She stretches out her hand to reach for it, but (as any other passenger would) I ignore her. I wasn’t trying to be mean, but I imagined if I had a child, I wouldn’t want them to have any contact with strangers, for valid reasons. So, I look away. I was thirsty, so I drank some more. The baby started making those almost-crying sounds they always pull when they want something.

The mother knew she was doing this because she wanted my water. She tried to take the baby’s face the other way from me, but the baby adamantly turned to my side, eyeing my water. The mother then flashes a glance at me and tells me to put the water in a bag, which I didn’t. My bag was too small to accommodate it. So, the baby kept on crying for a while and her mom probably felt like punching me. Anyway, someone got off and I moved to the vacant seat they left behind. You can’t possibly tell me what do with my water!

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