I was parked in front of a furniture shop. It was not like I needed furniture. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was bored as I am single and live alone. So, to get some fresh air, I decided to take a drive out. As I was driving down Aina street in Ojodu, I saw some set of glass stools in front of the furniture shop. They looked so sleek and shiny so I decided to take a look.
I should never have gone there.
After pricing the ridiculously expensive stools that I couldn’t afford, there I was, trying to reverse out of the parking lot. I was looking at the road through my review mirror, but I didn’t see an okada speeding by. The next thing I heard was a crash followed by loud cries. At that moment, my heart contracted.
I knew that something terrible had happened.
I came down and ran to the back of my car. The okada man, a lady and the okada were scattered on the road. The lady was holding her ankle, crying, the okada man was sitting on the road, holding his hand that has a thin injury, and the okada was lying sideways on the ground, with its wheels still spinning.
All I could say was, “I am so sorry…. I am so sorry…”
Even as I said these words, with panic roaming around in my chest, I could see people gathering around us. There were shouts coming from every angle, with accusing fingers pointed at me.
“Madam you blind!! Which kain drive you dey drive!!”
“See this useless woman!! You wan kill another person pikin.”
“No de stand there like mumu. Open your car, make you carry them go hospital”
The insults kept on coming. Some men lifted up the okada man and the lady, and before I knew what was happening, they opened my car back door placed them on my back seat.
It was as if everything was happening in slow motion.
I managed to get into my car quickly, and a dangerous looking man with scars all over his face entered into the front seat – he was elected by the crowd to go with me to make sure I didn’t run away. The lady at the back kept on crying, saying, “God what will I do… I just started makeup school today. My leg o! I am finished!”
I wanted to tell her that everything would be fine, but when I looked at her ankle, which was red and swollen, I was not so sure.
The drive to Royan Hospital was short as it was just down the street. When got there, the man helped the okada man out of my car. I ran into the back seat and when I looked at the lady’s tear streaked face, I had no choice but to carry her on my back. She was so small, that it felt like I was carrying a 9-year-old. Luckily for me, some nurses were standing at the entrance of the hospital, gisting. Immediately they saw us, they lifted the lady from my back, placed her on a weary looking wheelchair and we all rushed into the hospital. I had to buy hospital cards for the two of them and soon, they were taken inside while I sat down in the reception area with the man who had come with us.
“Madam, you be better woman o…” he said, picking his nose. “See as you just accept fault shap shap! If na some other people, them go dey speak big big English. Make you sha pray sey nothing do that girl. The okada man no get wahala. The wound small. But the girl… I no know o. Anyway sha, you must settle me o. I leave my mechanic work come here. Customers dey wait for me. Time na money…”
I looked at him, as he continued to roll his finger in his nose and wipe it on his stained green shirt stained with what looked like engine oil. All I could think about was what he said.
What if the girl’s leg was broken?
What would I do?
How would I explain it?
These questions kept rolling through my mind as we both continued to wait in the reception room filled with crying toddlers, exhausted mothers and sober grandparents.
“Madam, abeg I wan chop. Hungry dey catch me,” the man said, already stretching out his hand. I couldn’t even argue. I took a N1,000 note out of my wallet and placed it in his palm. He took a look around the reception area before he rushed out of the room.
About three minutes later, a man with ankara Buba and Sokoto entered into the hospital. He walked to the reception area and the nurse pointed to me. He walked to me, with smiling eyes, but a frowning mouth.
“Madam how you dey. I am the chairman of the Ojodu Okada Association. My boys told me what happened.”
“Good evening sir,” I said. On a normal basis, I wouldn’t have called such a young man Sir – he looked like he was in his early thirties. But my situation had made me humble.
He asked me what happened, and as I started narrating the story, a nurse came towards us. She told us that the okada man was fine and his wound was being dressed, but the girl had to have an X-ray to determine if there was any damage to her ankle. She told me the price, and I told her to do whatever it took.
After I finished narrating the story, I and the Chairman sat side by side, quietly, until the first man returned from his meal. Then both men started speaking in rapid Yoruba about an okada man who had died the week before after being hit by a truck, while I silently prayed to God that all would be well.
About thirty minutes later, both the lady and the okada man were brought back to the reception area by two nurses. The X-ray showed that there were no fractures in her leg; all she needed to do was rest the leg for the next few days and take the medicine which she had been prescribed.
“Madam na God save you o!” the man who followed us from the scene of the accident said, picking his teeth with a toothpick.
“Yes, God saved me…” I said almost in tears.
The injured lady looked at me, with surprisingly kind eyes. “Madam don’t cry. You made a mistake. It happens. At least let us thank God that all is well.”
The tenderness of her words made me burst out into tears. I wiped them off quickly and told her, “Thank you… Thank you…”
The Chairman held me by the shoulder and said, “Madam no cry. E don do, ehn…”
After I got myself together, a nurse took me to the payment counter. My bill was about twenty thousand Naira, but I didn’t care.
All was well…
The experience taught me an important lesson. Every day we go out and come back safely, it is just by the grace of God. I imagine what could have happened if the lady or okada man had broken their legs, sustained serious injuries, or even worse, died.
At 42, my life would have been over.
So to all the drivers out there, please look properly as you drive. A car is a blessing that transports us, but it could also become a weapon in the hands of a careless driver…