I still don’t know, if you ask me now. In fact, as the seconds while away, leaning on my wall and typing this, I have no idea how I should feel. I don’t know what to think or what to say. Or what to expect from my mind. I should be grateful that it wasn’t nothing near the scenes on TV. I should be grateful that the driver was very agile. That his vigilance saved us.
Then again, it’s not as though it was the worse scenario that has been. I mean…sure we nearly got into the ditch. The lorry nearly crushed our small vehicle. Sure, we all came out to look at the damage on the windshield and the bonnet.
But I still can’t tell you how I feel about it. Even the silence that reigned in the car after the chase didn’t give me answers. Maybe if I tell you what happened, you could help me out.
It was past 7pm when he asked where I was heading. After overstaying my welcome in the city that never sleeps, I was too eager to reply. Buea. Come, he said. We’re left with just two passengers. Our car is on the other side of the road.
This is Rond Point-the spot where you could lose your phone and never realize until when you got home. Coupled with the impending traffic on the bridge ahead, I was way too relieved to not trust him. I hope you know if you’re wasting my time I’ll leave, I snorted. Yes nah, came his reply.
There were three people in the dark vehicle. I got in to share the back seat with a man and a women. I think they were a couple. I sat close to the man. He had a blue flask in between his legs. Vous partez a Buea? I asked. Just to make sure. Oui, they replied. I’d later find out that the lady was pregnant. By the size of her bump, at least three months in.
The driver didn’t know another passenger had been sent before me to his dark vehicle. This passenger bore the military colors. According to the unwritten laws of transportation in this part of the world, whenever a member of the forces of law and order or the military sat in the front seat of the vehicle, the blood of Jesus covered us past all the control stops.
Our driver was all too happy to take off. I was pleased with our number. The regular three at the back, the driver and one other at the front. I should have been skeptical about this from the start, it was too comfortable to be true. Then again, who am I to question my Karmic reward?
The traffic was not as heavy as I’d expected. We were still going to get to town late. However, I was impressed when after eating my burger and devouring my slice of pizza, I raised my head from Facebook notifications to realize that we’d crossed the bridge.
A couple of Whatsapp messages later, we were past Bekoko and the night never seemed so dark and beautiful. There was music playing in the bus. My couple spoke in the dialect. Probably castigating my generation and its ability to function solely on digitally induced dopamine. I was tired and hungry-even after my solo feast- so, I wasn’t going to pretend to want a conversation.
It was a few miles after the second control stop that it happened. Just after the weighing station. My burger was history as well. A variation of Mani Bella blazed on the radio incessantly as the driver took advantage of the clear road.
It was a few miles into my nth Medium read that I heard it.
A heavy thud cracking through a clear surface. The driver turned the wheel left. Then right. Then left again. The gravel and stones under the tires shook our transport. I could hear the lady mutter an abrupt prayer and I turned towards the driver to watch him fight through the raised dust get the car to stop moving. I didn’t notice the cracked screen. I had no idea what was happening. I had no idea we might have just died.
But my heartbeat knew better than to continue staring at my phone.
The vehicle came to a stop at the edge of the road. I could see the makeshift metalling course protection on the side. Less than a ruler length away. The military man stepped out. As well as the couple. I didn’t want to step out. I didn’t want to pay a closer look at the windshield and the smashed bunnet.
I didn’t want to find out that our driver had just avoided a collision with a lorry. Nor that this lorry, transporting rocks, without a cover, at more than 60 miles an hour, in the dark, had crossed to our lane and nearly either crushed us all, or driven us on the bridge besides which we now stood to take inventory of the damage.
I didn’t want to find out that because our driver avoided the collision, a rock left from the lorry ( inertia from the sudden movement the driver of the death trap probably had in the few seconds of sanity) and crashed on our vehicle, startling the driver and all of us. And could have probably been the death of us without the help of God through the driver.
The damage was assessed. And a quiet decision taken to U-turn and chase after the lorry. He needs the pay for this, the driver said through his teeth. There as a military man on his side. Clearly, the spike in adrenaline and thirst for reparations led the whole vehicle.
Rock and Furious.
There was neither cursing nor long manifestos of the things we were going to do to that lorry driver. The group was more worried about other small vehicles like ours who may suffer the same predicament. The group didn’t dare to think of “what if”…or at least, no one voiced it. All the energy was directed towards finding who the hell drove that lorry and how he ( there’s no way it could have been a she) was going to pay for the damage.
Our driver sped on only to realize that some of the rocks had fallen on the road. In his quest for answers, he maneuvered with skill. Within minutes we saw the silhouettes of two lorries. One of them - driven by Darth Vader’s son- was the one we were after.
There were people standing at the stop. Men in uniforms and other men. Our driver packed our vehicle diagonally, blocking the death trap from taking off. I didn’t get off the vehicle. Not just because I was exhausted, but because some realizations crept my mind. I didn’t want to give them life by acknowledging their existence. So, I Whatsapped the event and concluded both in my digital conversation and intrapersonal banter that I was okay.
My conclusion, wasn’t entirely true.But I’d only find out later.
There was a ruckus. Darth Vader’s son climbed in and out. The military man, the driver and the man from the couple were all out. Talking and making gestures. It wasn’t long before the lorry’s engine revved up again.
It wasn’t long before the moving rock shooting death star left the post where officers, of law, and order, were stationed to provide safety for road users, both civilians and otherwise. It slowly dawned on me that I had wasted the mental champagne I’d popped over the act of finding the culprit who almost had us killed. He was gone.
Our driver’s resolve had only doubled. This time, he had a plan.
He pulled out and sped after the lorry, dodged the rocks on the road while making a call. We were all too scared and worried to tell him to focus on driving. Well, at least, I was too scared. He was explaining to someone what had just happened. He gave the damage report as well as the chase underway. I could only assume it was his employer because of desperation in his answers.
It wasn’t long before with caught up with the death star.
The plan was simple: go past the lorry, head to the nearest police post , alert the authorities and get them to stop him. Simple.
However, we didn’t factor in ( from what the male of the couple just added, ) that a drunk driver and a reckless military man ( yes, there were two people in the death star, and one reeked alcohol, and yes, he was the one on the wheel, and double yes, a military man) would never stop at a control. Even if the authorities flashed their puny torches and screamed for them to halt.
When the second chase began, we didn’t factor how truly pointless our chase was. But we would find out. Sooner than the driver would want.
It was at the entrance into the city that we realized , for everything we’d done to get the death star to stop, we should have gotten out of the car, prayed and expressed thanks for our lives. The traffic, expressed that well.
Our driver caught up with the lorry. Resilience at its worst. This time, he didn’t try to get past. He would let human nature help. He knew there would be traffic ahead and that the lorry would have to stop. He knew there’d be a police blockade with a motorcycle on standby. This time, he probably thought to himself, this will end.
It didn’t. The lorry didn’t get stuck in the traffic. And the officials didn’t get on their motorcycle to race the road runner down to justice boulevard. There was nothing they could do. Even after the whistling and torche shaking and threats. The couldn’t chase- the motorcycles didn’t work.
And they knew it all long.
The ride back home was silent. I still replied my messages. We got to the park and separated. I don’t even remember what the people I might have shared a grave with looked like. I still didn’t understand the gravity of what had taken place tonight. Nor what I could learn from it.
So, you tell me:
1. Why do I not feel like I just witnessed a miracle and I need to change my life?
2. Why didn’t I call my mother and inform her?
3. Why was it that the only time I never thought of this ordeal was when I was Mercy? ( This must mean she’s probably the only sunshine in my life right now)
4. Is there more to this?
5. Will this fundamentally change the way I see the world?
Because from where I see, I have written the longest post I’ve ever written on Medium. And the only thing I want to do is see Mercy again.
This country is fucked up. I realized it when my friends were sent to jail for a crime that didn’t even exist on paper.
And today when law officials could not stop a man guilty of attempted murder.
However, my resolve to accomplish the things I have talent for has quadrupuled. I could have died tonight. I don’t have any mindaltering realization. But, I still have the chance to change my cirumstances.
Lord, thank you.
I’m alive and grateful.