By Peete Kol
The worst pill any human being would swallow is the pill of seeing his/her death before one dies. Yours truly, I saw my death penultimate Tuesday, the 21st of May 2019, but I attributed my telling the story myself to the efficacy of my believing so much in Mary and Jesus who shielded me from the ugly pangs of death.
I have driven for the past 17 years now without killing even a rat; for Rev. Fr. Hyacient Okwara who blessed my car in 2002 asked me not to kill even a snake with my car because they too value their lives. And when I don’t kill them with my tyres, they too will be praying for me. I could remember in 2002 when as a learner, I went to see my late friend, Mike Adokwe at Nkwogu Street.
When it was time to go, and in the process of reversing, I fell into a gutter where there were some flowers. The owner of the yard came out raving that I used my vehicle to damage her flowers. I looked at the elderly woman and said “May God forgive you, for you know not what you are doing.”
Some good boys rallied round and pushed the car out of the gutter, and after greeting them, I had to run down the whole hog of Nkwogu Street down to the Water-Works Street and down to the Union Bank Junction and to the Army Barracks where I reside. Can you imagine the price of not being perfect?
Soon, I became a perfect driver but not without two important components in my vehicle always in perfect condition. These are the brake system and the horn, well of course, the lighting system in case of night driving.
The horn is so important in driving a vehicle because if my keke driver of 21st May 2019 used his horn very effectively, we wouldn’t have found ourselves on the quagmire that befell us that day.
This was how it all happened. I woke up and wanted to use my golf car which had been with the mechanic for three days until then for repairs. As I started the car, it started hiccupping, and at a point, I could not fire again. And I said to myself; “Leave this thing here and go to where you want to go.” I called my mechanic whom we nick-named “Engineer” to come and know what went wrong after spending three days in his workshop. I then, left a message behind and went to town from my Army Barracks residence.
After my transactions in the town, I joined the Nkwagu-bound keke for home. I sat at the right hand side of the back seat and as one semi-illiterate soldier would say; “RELACK” (relaxed). The boy (driver) in their usual characteristics, started speeding with the music blaring. Wo-o! As we approached the Hausa quarter’s road, a big bus was trying to do a U-turn back to town. The right hand side of the Hausa quarters road was clear, as there was no vehicle. A good driver would have blared his horn as we were not seeing our left hand side very well, to warn any coming vehicle from the other side trying to enter the Hausa quarters. But we were cruising down on top speed; only to all of a sudden, a car that was entering the Hausa side was on course and blimmey! In that split-second, our keke just rammed on this vehicle without any chance for stepping on the brake-pedal. Before one would say “keke”, the deed had been done.
And we were all spilled out with me on the left hand side where the bus that blocked our sight was standing – just a splutter of blood from my fore-head above my right eye. Jesus! I uttered, even after my usual prayers I normally do each time I got into any departing vehicle?
As I looked up and found that there was no vehicle approaching, I quickly moved to the other of Hausa quarter side and fell on the platform with the splutter of the blood increasing this time. Soon a good Ebonyian came and asked if I had a handkerchief on me. He soon put his hand into my right-hand trouser pocket and pulled out my handkerchief and as he tried to tie it to my head, it could not hold and he urged me to use it to press on the spot to forestall over-flowing.
Soon, I heard a voice of a lady who said; this is “kpochaa” (as most people call me in that area) and she rallied round and organized another keke that took the driver and I to the (MRS) Military Hospital in the Barracks. One surprising thing to me was the fact that I was clutching at my Android phone and one hard novel I bought few weeks ago in my left hand, while all this was happening since I was wearing a polo shirt that doesn’t have a breast-pocket, only to miss this hard novel within the Barracks. I handed it over to somebody I could not recognize again.
Right there in the MRS, the driver, who broke his leg was referred back to the FETHA while my broken forehead was butchered in what they called “Stitching” with little anaesthetics applied.
The following day when I looked myself up in the mirror, my face looked like the face of death, I could not recognize myself again. But I cannot stop thanking my dear, Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary whose scapulars I believe saved me from being face-to-face with the ugly face of death. Jesus, I trust in you!