He became unsteadier as he jostled the standing victims that buoyed him. He continued to take turns resting for moments on passengers before getting shaken off again. It occured to thse passsengers at the same moment that the man was falling asleep or about to vomit. The smell of his excess lay thick in the air, the stink of what he’d eaten indiscernible from what he’d drank. He opened his eyes 10 per cent and then let them fall closed again, content to rest on or against anyone. Where had he come from? The money collector on the bus had started his periodic trip down the aisle and encountered the troublemaker instructing him to behave himself. Passengers acknowledged the sentiment in a familiar way. Not the first time. He cursed in an incoherent voice while searching for his bus fare, which he drew from his pocket and slapped down into the money collector’s hand. And then vomited on it and the coins that had just arrived there. Mothers and children screamed as spray landed on their clothes and hair. A week would pass before I dared to ride a chicken bus again.
I hurried on the bus and maneuvered down the aisle. Lop-sided by my forty-pound backpack and a 10-pound satchel, I bumped into the hapless passengers I encountered, while trying to hold on to a cob of grilled corn that dripped lemon and butter on my left hand and the floor. The bus had come quicker than I had expected and I had the recently purchased grilled corn to prove it. There were no seats. As the bus huffed on, it continued to fill with needy passengers crowding the sliver thin aisle even when it looked like it couldn’t possibly fit another. I gripped the corn by the husk that kept it, my knuckles white. I was hungry. I managed to extricate myself from my bags by force-pushing them onto the steel bars fixed above the passenger’s heads. I ate voraciously. One hand gripped the steel rail close to my bags, while the other positioned the corn mouth and centre. The cob was de-corned with ruthless teethiness. It was as if it were the first and last I would ever eat. An animal hunger. I looked around me to see if anyone had found it strange that I had just eaten corn on this space-less bus and noticed a niblet of corn lying squarely on a seated elderly gentlemen’s knee.