When we were Young Part 2 – by Abidemi Adebola “Sometimes our best love moments
“4 out of 5 motorcycle accidents end in injury or death”
From the corner of my eyes, I saw the motorcycle flip in one quick instant high up in the air and with a horrified stare I watched, as though in slow motion, from the rear view mirror as it rose high up and tumbled down the tarred road in a heart-wrenching head-first crash.
Cold chills raced through my body as the events quickly played in my head.
I hadn’t noticed that a dare devil motor cyclist was racing through the road at a neck breaking speed.
I wasn’t particularly paying attention to the road either. I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other swiping through my blackberry bold handset as I cruised slowly towards the next exit from the main road.
I had my son in his infant protective car seat strapped to the back seat of the car. He was sleeping peacefully his breath matching the solemn classical music that was playing coyly from the CD player. It had been arranged to get him to sleep.
A moderate bump on the rear guard of my car was all I felt. But when I looked up my shenanigan on the mobile set, I beheld the worst case scenario and the accompanying nightmare I am about to share with you.
That morning, I had been looking forward to having my small family return to Kaduna after the birth of our first child. The continued insecurity and subsequent curfews and restrictions had made it necessary to move the family down south where it was comparatively safer.
I did most of the visiting. Every other week or even longer intervals. The intensity of work was the decider. I was just the pawn.
But somehow, my cute little family found a window when work pressure was less and funds for the trip was available. And now the family was coming together as one. Even if for just a few weeks.
I had been looking forward to the trip the whole week and that morning was the most important morning of my entire life.
In excellent spirit, I picked them up at the Kaduna Airport and drove excitedly towards the house. It was agreed that my wife would drop off at the local market within a few minutes’ drive to the house so she could buy a few supplies. It was a necessary routine. I had turned the kitchen into a museum of some sort, with the relics of our favorite cooking wares and plates serving as reminders of a past I couldn’t replicate. It served no use the moment she travelled.
When I dropped her off, I had just the kid to keep my company. But he fell into a good sleep the moment I turned on the Air conditioner. That left me with the cool soothing music and my phone!
Chukwudi (not his real name) had been ill for a few days. He looked a shadow of himself. His business hadn’t been doing very well and he struggled to fend for himself.
Sometimes he had to settle for the ignoble task of asking for cash from his girlfriend Nneka (not her real name as well).
He had moved to Kaduna with the hope of building a small business and making good his promise to marry Nneka as soon as his fortunes changed. But the terrain in Kaduna was far from what had been painted to him prior to his coming.
Aside the incessant security breaches, he soon realized that he was a pitiful minority in this city named after a crocodile. This reflected in the access to the markets and the competition with the locals.
The market had not been fair to him and he never ceased to blame something for his predicament.
That morning he had been quite ill. He had aches in all his body joints and a blinding headache that played hide and seek with his pills. It was so excruciating that he wailed openly in pain amidst the squalor of his compound.
He imagined that he was having a bout of malaria.
The annoying shrill sound of the ring tone of his mobile handset initially startled him, but the moment he realized that the voice on the other side of the phone was that of his debtor who had been owing him for months, he braced up and quickly responded in a strong voice. He didn’t want to give a hint of his poor state of health.
The caller was ready to make part payment for the money he owed him, especially considering the present state of his dwindling business.
This excited Chukwudi and he was up on his feet pronto. With blood flowing through his veins like opium he got off his sick bed.
He had to get to the market to pick up the cash himself. He couldn’t trust anyone to do the job on his behalf.
He jumped into his jeans, threw on a roughed up shirt and hopped on his motorcycle.
No helmet on, no protective gear, his eyes was set only on the cash and he had to get there as soon as he could.
When he wheeled his bike out of his compound, he had the slightest inkling of what the day held in store for him.
When the motorcycle flipped in mid-air, all I saw was the rider coming down hard on the road head first. Up until this blessed day, that scene is the most horrible view to behold. There I was, seated in the car, with nothing whatsoever to do to save this poor fellow.
The front wheel of the motorcycle split the instant it hit the ground wheeling away into the side walk.
And like a rag dull, Chukwudi’s lifeless body hit the road with his jaw taking the initial brunt of his weight from the fall.
Confused and utterly shocked, I slowed the car down completely and watched as fragments of the bike split like shrapnels from a bomb in every conceivable direction.
Within seconds, a crowd had formed. Within the next minute, two bikes had encircled my car with the riders pouring out invective with their hands making gestures that suggested I might have just killed someone.
My first thought was, I had a child in the car and I couldn’t risk coming out of the car until I was sure the man was not dead.
One option I considered that very instant, was to drive off to the nearest police post or station at the least. There I hoped to find refuge.
When I looked at the rear mirror a few moments after the accident, I noticed a ray of hope. The body sprawled on the road, twitched and then moved. It could have been the slightest of move, but it was a proof of life and I felt the need to help.
I started to reverse the car to the scene of the accident when a nurse(from a nearby hospital) who was returning from lunch break flagged my car down. She had noticed a child in the back seat. And with the way the scene was becoming rowdy and tensed she was obliged to offer assistance.
Incredible! At this time, I wasn’t thinking rationally anymore. I had seen the chance that this poor chap could survive and I was keen to help.
I handed my boy to the nurse. There was no introduction and barely any conversation. She says, “please bring the child o” and I obliged.
The accident happened right in front of a popular hospital and so all that was required was a short drive facing the surging traffic towards the hospital. It was a Catholic hospital! Same hospital, the nurse was headed.
When I got down from the car, it was in a bid to help passersby and Samaritans heave the body of the victim into my car.
I couldn’t smile for the camera as some pedestrians took pictures and recorded the scene on their mobile phones. I barely even noticed them. I had one eye on the nurse, whose backside I could see from a distance and the other on the chap we were shoving carefully into my car.
No first aid procedure adhered to, no precautions taken, but we carried his bloodied face into the car.
He was still breathing!
One minute the car was the coolest place to be in with soothing music and a great ambience and the next moment, it was carrying a near-death victim to the emergency ward of the hospital. What an irony!
I drove calmly through the crowd of peering eyes, who were trying desperately to catch a glimpse of the face of the victim and myself. His body fluid and blood had left a trail from the scene of the accident into my car and now dripping uncontrollably through the side door.
He was saying some gibberish while in the car. He apparently was trying to make some statement that sounded like he was asking about his bike.
Oh well, what do you think?
I drove into the emergency and accident center at the hospital to the welcome sight of the nurse and my son- who was peacefully sleeping and unruffled by the noise. He probably never heard a thing.
With the help of the nurse, emergency respondents were quick to wheel Chukwudi into the theatre.
A good number of the “cinematographers” had followed us to the hospital. They stood outside asking questions. Mostly questions around whether the poor chap had died. I guess they needed a closure.
On my part I thanked the nurse for helping with my boy while I prayed reverently that Chukwudi survived the impact of the fall from that height.
For one second I wondered how the bike rose that high from the ground? How fast was this chap riding?
But I dismissed the thoughts for later when this ordeal was over.
I had no one on my side. I was alone pacing the emergency ward and wondering what was going on.
I made quick calls to a few of my work colleagues and buddies and asked that they join me at the hospital if they could. I hinted them also that I didn’t think the chap would survive the accident from what I had seen.
I opined that to avert a complete breakdown of law and order, they should come with a policeman to the hospital.
I decided against telling my wife about the tragedy when she called moments later to ask me to pick her up. I simply told her something came up at work and I would ask a colleague to pick her up.
I ended the call quickly, I didn’t want her asking further questions.
Within 15mins, my calls yielded fruits. A good number of my colleagues turned up with worry written all over their faces.
I asked one of my colleagues (Jimmy) to pick the infant car seat (which I had tucked into the car boot at the time I picked the Chukwudi) and get my son to the house. He was to pick my wife from the market as well and get them home safe and sound. That was the biggest favor I thought anyone could do for me at the time.
I charged him to an oath of quiescence on the issue. “Do not mention a word to her”
He nodded in affirmation.
When I watched him drive away, I turned to face the reality of my day.
The nurse returned from her enquiries about the emergency case and quickly briefed me that the lad would survive.
Aside the sprains and bruises on his body, he had a badly broken jaw.
So badly broken he could barely talk and had spittle dribbling uncontrollably. He would need a procedure as soon as possible but he was stable enough for a quick check.
It was the first time I was seeing his face. He had been cleaned up and he had a huge band of bandage around his face. All I could see was a small opening stained with blood but with bloodshot eyes. It was an unsettling sight to behold. Even as I write!
I muttered a few words to calm him down and then walked away to say a short prayer to God.
I asked for the medical bill and then walked to the emergency waiting area where a group of his family and friends were waiting. One of the local chiefs had also turned up in solidarity for the victim. The group asked to speak with me, led by the chief.
I assured them that he was alive and would recover well and that he had hit my car from the rear. Of course I didn’t mention the mobile phone bit. It wasn’t the appropriate place and time to bring it up lest I give arsenal to the camp of his folks.
I also mentioned that I would pick his initial bills at the hospital. They thanked me and showed genuine appreciation.
I then met his girlfriend. She looked quite attractive and well taken care of. She spoke in relatively better English and thanked me for my efforts.
Then came the policeman!
He wanted details of the accident. How it happened? Who did what? And then he insisted I had to get to the police station to file a report. He claimed that since he was deployed from the police post he had to give a feedback and report.
Relieved and at peace that the poor fella wouldn’t die a horrible death, I obliged the policeman.
As soon as Chukwudi was wheeled into the ward and I had promised to visit the next morning, I drove out of the hospital with the policeman and my colleagues.
When we got to the police station, it was another kettle of fish. They asked for the car keys and literally impounded the vehicle. I was asked to write a statement about the accident.
I protested vehemently and got into a shouting fit with the policeman who had encouraged me to come to the police station in the first place. I thought he was deceitful and cunning. It looked I was going to be exploited by the very guys I asked for help.
Already, the intensity of the happenings earlier in the day was enough to grapple with, I didn’t have enough energy for the antics of the police. I was going to leave the car at the police station and then pick up my official car at the house to move around, at least for the interim. For that moment, I wasn’t immediately bothered.
That evening at home, I could barely eat. Seeing my family was the only bright spot in a rather lukewarm day. I would sigh and then take really long breaths, but not one mention of the incident that night. My wife noticed my countenance and asked repeatedly if everything was fine. I simply adduced my mood to the pressure of work.
What can a man do! I wasn’t wiling to bother her about the accident
The next morning, I had two major objectives, the first was to check on Chukwudi at the hospital and the other was to get custody of my car from the local police station.
I had woken up with good energy and I refused to let the incident get the better of me. I put on a great outfit and looked the part.
When I got to the hospital the morning after, I met the girlfriend (Nneka) by his bed side. Apparently, she had spent the night at the hospital. Chukwudi looked better and after exchanging pleasantries he started complaining about the medical services at the clinic. His voice muffled by his poor jaw movement, yet he spoke vehemently. He claimed the nurses hadn’t checked on him and that he was in a lot of pain and that he wanted to just leave the hospital.
His complaints were corroborated by Nneka, and so I walked to the nurses’ station to find out the issue. The nurses in return went about complaining about his attitude and they wondered openly how a man with bloodied and broken jaw continued to mouth profanities all night long.
I intervened and settled the rift. Nurses had to be professional and Chukwudi had to be patient.
More medical bills by noon and I made even more payment.
When I was about leaving the hospital, Nneka asked that I share my phone number so she can reach out to me if the incident repeated itself. Fair enough!Without thinking twice, I reeled out my phone digits.
That done, I was at the police station moments later. They insisted that to have the car released, I would have to pay N100,000 as the car had spent a night in their custody.
Infuriated and upset with the attitude of the policemen, I started making phone calls to my contacts at the Police Force headquarters in Abuja to intervene.
Just in case you are wondering, my contacts were friends that knew friends that knew someone that was a senior officer in the police. Shikena!
I was asked to return the next day to sort the mess out.
That night while I was in bed, thinking through my predicament, I received a message.
It was from Nneka. The contents of the SMS shocked me!
The story continues in the second part. If you have enjoyed this one, please post a comment.
40 comments to go!
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