Snapshot – Messy chola on the bus

Many of the passengers left the bus to buy food. We were still an hour or so from Coroico. One chola wearing a long blue skirt with shining flowers and a woolly cardigan, turquoise, picks through fried fish with her worn fat fingers.

I can see the exposed spine of the fish flop sadly; it’s pinched between her thumb and finger. Her right hand dives back into the plastic bag and pulls out a round brown something which she flicks into her mouth with two efficient pushes.

A small piece drops onto her shirt. She leaves it and continues picking around the fish spine. Now her thumb and finger are wet with grease. The fat under her chin continues flopping up and down. She drops the spine, cleaned to reveal skinny grey barbs, but seems not to notice. It lies there on the floor, stuck by its own wet remains.

Out comes a green fleshy banana and after a potato which she peels with a sharp scarred black-rimmed fingernail. Another spine bounces from her left pinch. She tilts her head slightly to see if anything more hides amongst the folds of the plastic bag while licking her fingers. Finding some sticky balls of rice, she shovels them in, not caring for the clumps that fall into her lap.

She ties the bag up with her little fingers then wipes the other fingers on a tissue. Still greasy, she opens the bag enough to slip in the tissue, then rubs her fingers on her skirt and the plastic arm rest.


November 2012


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