Window Seat By Benjamin Branoff - Memories we Lost and Other Stories Study Guide

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Author

Bseniamin Bronoff is a Tanzanian writer. His short story, Winddow Seat, is featured in the third volume of Tell me, My Friends, which univects stories and plays written by students and staff at the university of Daresalaam.

Setting

The narrator, a foreigner, is in a public transport daladala in Dar es Salaam, moving from Miimani via goes to Posta down town.

This story tells a humorous story of a young man, a boards a daladala from Mlimani via Mwenge to the town. The foreigner meets many people who squeeze the small van, including a beautiful Tanzanian girl who behinds of the foreigner.

The mzungu is seated next to a window, in a daladala traveilng to down town. The minivan is meant to carry about ten people but 24 people are squeezed in it.

The road they are on is in a deplorable condition, full of potholes and dust which fills the van.

The narrator expresses how he desires to be with Monique, French girl he has met in college and she also stays across courtyard in downtown.

He changes vehicles from the minivan to a bus to head to Posto Town. The bus is also overloaded and overcrowded like was the daladala

Among the passengers there is a young lady, probably some age as the narrator. She is quiet beautiful and because of narrator's lustful nature, he forgets about desires the Kanga lady.

The bus is stopped by a police officer who allows go after taking a bribe — he wastes a lot of time for attendants to whom time is money.

The vehicle picks up another passenger, Mzungu offers his seat to the woman who on the insistence of Mzungu she takes the seat.

He stands throughout the rest of the journey. There is a lot of squeezing and holding on one another the passengers. The vehicle stops at points to drop and pick more passengers. In an instance, when the vehicle stops, Kanga, a passenger holds on the waist of Mzungu, Mzungu is carried away by the feeling he gets from Kanga holding him on the waist. He feels Kanga's other hand slowly slipping off his

Afterwards when the vehicle stops, Kanga alights in dismay of Mzungu who thinks of having her give him the world's biggest secret.

She waves to him and leaves mzungu in a blissful existence. Mzungu drifts to his world of love, a world of fantasy. He dozes off only to be awakened when all passengers have alighted.

Mzungu is to pay his fare only to realize his wallet is missing, it has been stolen.

Themes:

Indiscipline on the roads.

Vehicles should always follow traffic laws on the roads for safety. In his story however, law and order is not followed as it should be.

To start with, the public transport vehicles are so much overloaded.

Passengers are literally packed. Conductors carry excess passengers as the narrator says a mini-van meant to carry ten passengers now carries twenty five of them. It even becomes worse when it comes to rush hour where they carry twenty eight with others drivers also bribe the traffic policemen in order to get away with crime. Even when things seem to be okay with the vehicle the

Policemen solicit for bribes to an extent of removing the car keys from ignition. The bribe here is a very powerful voice that the police use to silence the adamant drivers.

Passengers suffer on roads

The narrator is robbed.

Poverty.

Poverty is also portrayed in this Story. The people ot the bus said to be in sandals and others barefoot. This means they cannot afford better shoes. The passengers could be suffering in the overloaded daladalas because of poverty. This is because pay less money for fare.

The narrator describes Kanga that she has a trim figure cowed by a lifetime of hard work and deprivation of luxury, that she cannot afford luxuries. We also think that "hot her to steal from the narrator is poverty.

The aggressiveness of touts in town is also a sign of poverty. This is a society where one must struggle to make ends meet. That'l why they scream and shout and also convince people to take their daladala: -

Corruption

Corruption is also evident in this story especially on the roads policement were supposed to guarantee safety on the road, but instead they take bribes from the driver so as to overlook the traffic offences being caused including overloading.

Relationships.

The narrator enters into a relationship with Monique the French girl in campus. He says that he gave her an unordinary smile and she returned it. At the bus station he sees her but never gets to talk to her. He regrets never getting to fix a date with her that day. The narrator treats this relationship so casually and he is not serious about it. He says that he conjured up the smile for her and when she is through with it he can conjure it up for someone else "A man only has so many smiles " When he meets Kanga in the van he seems to also fall in love with her. He flirts with her and even imagines one part of Kango's body.

He loses his mind when Kanga grabs his trousers. He goes wild with imagination about himself and Kanga and does not realize that he was being robbed. When he meets Kanga, the narrator says that he had forgotten about Monique. He says, '...I drift in the world of my new love. Le felle is over and done with. Kanga is in. This shows how casuals he treated his relationships with women considering that he only met Kanga in the daladala.

Racism

The word Mzungu means a white man. The Africans call them this to mean he is from the white race. The Africans see this man, (the narrator) as more superior than them and use even a spectacle that he is using public transport. When the guard greets him at the city Chuo everybody turns to see him. Africans perceive the white men as rich and wealthy that's why Kanga robs him in the vehicle. The narrator chooses to date Monique a French girl because she is from their race. He says, I should be with the French girl Le fille because

French women absolutely like American men.

Character and Characterization

Mzungu

Lustful: When he meets Kanga, the narrator says that he had forget about Monique. He says, drift in the world of my new love. Le fille is over and done with. Kanga is in". This shows how casuals he treats his relationships with women considering that he only met Kanga  in the daladala.

This leads to his wallet being stolen yet he things of Kongo's touch as a sign of desire for him.

Respectful: He respectfully greets the old woman who moves to the back ro from the front one.

Observant: Has a clear picture of how the vehicles are overcrowded and squeezed passengers, he gives a clear description of the dust on the road and also describes how bumpy the ride is.

Policeman:

Stubborn: Couldn't let the vehicle go on unless a bribe is paid despite finding no fault with it. He picks the bribe and smiles and waves for the vehicle to proceed with the journey.

Kanga

Tactful: she skilfully holds on to Mzungu as if supporting herself from plunging forward only to rob him.

Opportunist: waits at the squeezed moment and movement by the vehicle to rob Mzungu's wallet

Language Use/Stylistic Ddevices

Vivid description.

The author makes use of vivid description which makes his own interesting and leaves an impact the readers' minds. He describes sitting position in the daladala very clearly lamina wet of sitting, fatal position. My knees are wedged between my abdomen and the sit in front of me. I am trying not to jab the guy in front of with my knees ' This is very clear and we can even see that position in our minds.

Another example is the way he describes the way peopie squeeze themselves during rush hours. The way the narrator describes girl

'Kanga' appeals to our sense of sight and we are left seeing a very beautiful African girl with short hair in our minds '... She looks my age though am not sure; it is hard to tell. She wears a kanga tightly wrapped around her. She is slim but not starving slim, she looks healthy. She has been moulded by beautiful genes and by a of never ending work and deprivation of luxuries ' find her face she is really beautiful '

Use of other languages local dialect

This is the use of Swahili words as well as French words

Mzungu-Whiteman, Daladala-public transport, Mayai – egg te fille-French word meaning girl and so many other is to show that environments and setting of the story i e. Dar es Tanzania is known to majority use of Kiswahili and there are some tourists but we learn that Mmique is a city campus. 

Hyperbole

The author uses the use of exaggerations in order to emphasize his point. The narrator says that at the bus stop, a million feet chuff and out of my window. This emphasizes the big number of people the bus stop.

He also says of Kanga's trim figure that she has be, mounded by beautiful genes and by a lifetime of never ending and deprivation of luxuries ' This emphasizes the fact she has always work

Personification

Personification is also used by the author for clearer description. The narrator says that the side of the road dances with grass and dirt in a mesmerizing spell. He also says that 'I know I have left Chuo when the grass becomes clumsy and allows the dirt to dance with the road ' Dancing is a human attribute but has been given to both road and dirt

Repetition

Repetition is also used in this story as well as for emphasis author repeats the word feet successively at the bus station "FP, with sandals, feet with shoes, bare feet" He uses this to illustrate the poverty level of the people. There is also repetition of the word burns for emphasis, the garbage takes burning i e it really never stop rings of fire. And it burns, burns, burns "

Irony

It is also employed by the author in this story. It is ironical for the passengers to smack when the drivers give out bribe but they never take any action against them. They seem to disapprove it but don't take any step despite being piled up in the daladala.

Narrator also ironically thinks that Kanga has fallen in love with him and when she touches his jeans on the waist he thinks that she is touching him to stop herself from lunging forward but he didn't know that he was being robbed.

Revision questions

  1. Discuss the major literary devices employed in the story.
  2. Discuss the major issues highlighted by the writer in the story.
  3. Public transport sector is a menace in the country. Highlight issues brought out from the story with the situation in the country.
  4. Discuss moral decay as brought out in the story.

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