This is an article by Trevor Romain - I found it on Facebook and enjoyed it so much that I got Trevor’s kind permission to re-blog it. Trevor is not only a gifted writer but an accomplished artist. Enjoy..
(Disclaimer. What you are about to read is a simple story about a personal awakening up Louis Botha Avenue from the Doll House. It is not meant as a political statement, a judgment of others, acceptance of wrongs or a righteous soapbox holier-than-thou rant. The following just came to mind while drawing this Putco bus. I’m just saying…)
When I was in high school waiting for the bus to go home, a bunch of us were talking the usual kak that schoolboys do when a Putco bus pulled up. One of the boys took a bet that none of us would jump on the bus and take it the four stops down Louis Botha Avenue to where we normally got off.
For some reason the bus stopped right in front of me. I mean, there it was. An open door. If you stepped into that green monster you could expect a bicycle spoke in the ribs, robbery, dismemberment and certain death. It was simply not done. Taboo. Verboten. Eewww, dirty.
As a child, ‘they’ said don’t drink out of those enamel, chipped, tin mugs that Africans drink out of. (Why they had tin and we had glass I’ll never know.) Wash you hands twice if you touch an African. Don’t get too close you might get a disease. And for goodness sake, never get on a Putco bus because you will be robbed and killed instantly. Oh man, that propaganda machine worked us didn’t it? The indoctrination got us all scared and hateful.
Well, I was a renowned fraidy cat who stole a rat, but my friend Mark and I got on the friggin’ Putco bus, didn’t we?
The bus driver raised his eyebrows and before he could say a word I blurted out, “The okes took a bet. They dared someone to get on the bus. Errr sorry.”
My buddy Mark said, “It’s only a few stops. We’re going to Thelma’s Fish and Chips.”
The driver smiled and nodded. (He must have laughed really hard afterwards explaining to his buddies how these two white lighties were shitting bricks on his bus. I must admit I almost had a thrombosis with fear. I about kaked myself.) I tried to give the driver my bus ticket and he said, “Those tickets, they do not work on this bus, kleinbaas. Stand here,” He pointed to a spot just behind his seat. Then he put his foot down and the green monster lurched forward leaving the boys at the stop coughing and spluttering in a cloud of black diesel fumes. (The bike ous like Joe and Scotch and Francesco, experienced that cloud of smoke I’m sure. And so did the cyclists who used to hang on to those #@$&*$# buses on the way UP death bend. Did the words ‘Death Bend’ not register?)
Surprisingly, when I got onto the bus, nobody killed me. (At least not to my knowledge. I may be dead and not know it.) Nobody handed me the dreaded Ebola virus. Nobody scowled at me. Nobody robbed me. In fact the riders on the bus, both sitting and standing, didn’t give a crap. This ‘big dare’ we took didn’t faze anybody on the bus. My actions meant absolutely nothing, china. Nada, Niks. Bogger-all. The people on the Putco bus just wanted to take their hungry tummies, weary eyes, slumped shoulders and go home to Alexandra Township.
I learned something very interesting and enlightening in Orange Grove that day. By breaking the rules and stepping onto that Putco bus (and into the jaws of certain death) I saw the enemy! And I learned, very clearly, that the enemy…was ME!
Thank you Trevor for allowing me to re-blog this beatifully written essay.