Katie looked outside the window at racing trees. At the edge of her sight she could only see a green pigment. Everything else was too blurry but for the far away images in her head. She leaned on the glass, perhaps seeking support. The shuttle moved fast leaving behind her bleak past but taking her real fast into a gloomy future.
Suddenly, the shuttle braked and Katie sunk her teeth into her lower lip after the force of inertia drove her into hitting the seat in front. Blood gushed out but she swallowed it. If her dad knew what had happened to her, he would scold and even hit her. so she licked the wound as she savored the familiar taste of warm blood, her eyes glittered and she couldn’t even see the green pigment for a while.
Once the film of tears dissipated, she stole a glimpse at the man sitting cold and harsh beside her. He could not drift into slumber so she could scrutinize his face. Katie wished she could spot the hatred in his heart or his face and wipe it away. She wished he could be like the big man in the next seat chatting heartily with his girl. Envy germinated in her heart. Tears welled in her eyes. And she shook her head away from matters that made her quite emotional.
The girl being smothered drunk from a bottle of Afya juice. Katie swallowed hard. It reminded her of the thirst burning her throat. It awoke the hunger she had worked so hard to lull into inactivity. She threw and forgot her gaze on the thick yellow juice until a piercing pain consumed the top of her head. Her dad had got her staring at other people’s things.
Katie felt like touching the itching pain but she knew better. .
As the trees moved fast towards her mum, her thoughts jumped on the ride too. She missed her already. Her warm smile, tight embrace. Mum did not hit her except when it was necessary. Mum did not scold her all the time.
She hated the thought of having to start new life in a strange world. Going to school in a new school. Making knew friends. She wasn’t even sure if she would make one. Meeting new teachers and going home to a wild father. Katie loathed these thoughts. They created a bitter sensation in her throat and blew strong wind at her flickering candle of hope.
The shuttle rumbled on.Katie’s head mumbled on. And the wind outside whispered by.
Then the boisterous city lights appeared scaling the heights into the skies. Blue, Red, Yellow and white. Cars raced by and matatus hooted as if the city’s life depended on the whirring noise. At some instances they moved so close to the shuttle in traffic that Katie got worried.
The sight of tall concrete walls terrified her. She was used to seeing as far as her sight could reach. Back at home she could not feel as trapped as she now felt. It was as if the walls were talking to her, mocking her and making faces at her.
Outside people hurried by as if running away from a malady. Some were in suits and ties, some were in branded T-shirts and others in skimp clothing exposing a lot of skin. The streets were crowded, the air was tight with smoke, hoots and shouts. Suddenly, someone opened the window of the shuttle snatched a mobile phone from a woman and disappeared into an alley. the woman screamed for help from a dumb audience. She cut off the shouting but rattled on. Narrating bitterly how she had lost so much in the streets of the city.
At last, Katie and her father alighted at a bus stage. The air outside smelled of rotting fruits and burning rubber. Street children walked by in groups. Touts shouted at the top of their voices at passengers stating their destination and price.
Katie’s dad walked into a shop with tall clear bottles and bought a small bottle and a coke. He then gulped down half of the soda and filled up the bottle with the clear liquid. He then grabbed Katie’s small fist and walked fast stooping from the burden of the big backpack strapped to his back.
Katie half walked and half jogged to catch up with the pace of her father. Her white dress with red flowers wobbled around her ankles helplessly as if asking Katie to be graceful. The swirl of the Coke in the bottled almost killed Katie. She was thirsty. She was hungry.
They crossed roads and missed being swept off the road by speeding and hooting matatus. Her father scolded her for walking leisurely. He pulled her small hand and Katie heard something snap before thrusting her forth like a hummer. Katie trotted as she tried to regain her stability.
She hurried on helplessly. Her father drunk from the coke bottle and placed back the cap. The stride she made became nothing to her father who soon caught up with her. He pushed her back. She run a little and walked on. Then the man who had been on her hit her hard with butt of the bottle at the top of the head.
The pain gnawed from the head to toe.Katie scratched the source of pain but still it could not convince it to abate. Tears gushed down her cheeks and she wailed. She had swallowed too much to bear. Her dad pushed her away telling her to stop or he would leave her in town.
Katie through a film of tears looked at this man whom she barely knew. He was her dad only because her mum said so. She looked at the racing cars and some people singing in the street while wailing loudly. She looked at a beggar sitting at a corner with a deformed face and awkwardly curved legs swinging her hands incessantly at unperturbed passersby. She looked at a crowd shouting while hitting a man who had snatched a fruit from a stall.
Without agony, Katie looked at a matatu with all kinds of graffiti on its board. At a distance she could hear the voice of her father calling angrily. Then it dissolved into a myriad of other voices until it merged with the buzz of the crowded city. She could even hear her heart shutter as she jumped into the road right in time for the speeding matatu.