The weather was perfect. It was a rare cloudy day in Lagos, the sun had ceased from it tyrannical reign and allowed Lagosians exult. The breeze blew gently and children ran amok on the streets enjoying the rare opportunity to play without having their mothers chide them and stop their play. Everything was just perfect.
Tamuno spied the wall clock in the sitting room for the umpteenth time. He had an interview that afternoon at 2pm at Lekki and he was still at home at Alaka at a quarter past 1pm. To say he was running late would not only be an understatement, it was tantamount to delusion. He was late, and he knew it. His older brother was the cause of his tardiness having gone out in search of money to give Tamuno for transportation to and from his interview.
He rushed out of their apartment, after collecting the money from his brother. He had been searching for paid employment for the last two years. Finally, he was getting a job. All he needed to do was to be at the company before 2pm. He calculated his best means of travel and decided to go the bike way. He stopped a bike man and hopped on. The fare was a thousand, five hundred Naira to Lekki, but he didn’t care. He had been waiting for that moment for a long time.
Femi Atanda was getting restless. He was home with his wife and only son. Having married early, they had just one issue, the boy – Damilare. He was taking his family for a visit with his mother that afternoon. His wife as usual was taking her time getting dressed and applying make up. Femi’s rage was simmering, he was fit to be tied. ‘Woman, let’s go oh!’ He was pacing the living room unable to stay still.
Damilare sat still watching his father’s rage boil. He loves his dad, but the boy always wondered if the man truly felt the same towards him. At twelve and about writing his junior WAEC exam, school was the only thing that his father ever discussed with him. He longed for siblings, they would make living with his parents much more bearable. But his parents had decided he was too much of a burden and didn’t bother having others. He lowered his gaze, staring at his shoes.
Ibidun Atanda finally entered the living room. Femi sighed audibly, ‘oya, let’s go.’ He was already on his way and his wife and son had to play catch-up. They got to the car and he eased the Mercedes Benz ML 450 out of the car park. They were on their way to Ketu, but first, Femi had to pick up a file at Adeola Odeku to work on. He was a man on a mission.
Tolu was scared out of his wits; he was driving his mother’s car alone for the first time. Large L signs in front and at the back of the car warned others that he was still learning to drive, so they avoided him like the plaque. His fear stemmed not from the fact that he couldn’t drive, but because, he had just driven past a ghastly road accident at the Ozumba – Awolowo Road intersection and had grabbed his head leaving the steering wheel for a bit, thank God he had reduced the speed of the car considerably, he would have otherwise hit an okada man that was riding like a maniac. Easy does it, he kept chanting to himself praying he gets home safe.
Ayeesha Daoud was an unhappy woman, a victim of domestic violence, she was tired of her marriage. She wanted out of the cage, and loveless relationship she was trapped in, but, her own father had consistently maintained that no daughter, or son, of his would get a divorce whilst he was alive. Alhaji Abubakar was a man feared by all his children, even in his old age, the man was a colossus that could not be challenged.
Ayeesha was lost in thought as she drove back home from Surulere. She had seen the accident at the beginning of Ozumba Mbadiwe and had wished that she was the victim of that accident. She would not miss anyone save her mother (Hajia Bilkis) and her sister (Miriam), her two best friends. She drove on, oblivious to the dashboard and the needle climbing higher in the speedometer.
Kemi’s car was sputtering again, damn these quack mechanics, she cursed. After spending a little fortune to service and repair her car, she suddenly realized that it would have been better if she had taken the car to the auto shop for servicing and paid the money Alhaji gave her to service the car, and several other well wishers sympathetic to her car’s condition. Being a high class girl with Lagos smarts, she had employed the services of the auto mechanic in her area, the car’s performance had gone through a steady decline.
As the car continued misbehaving, Kemi slowed, and parked under the Falomo bridge. Immediately, road mechanics swooned in, like vultures on a dead body. She hissed, got out of the car after popping the hood so that the mechanic guys could have a look see and give her a report. She was wearing a tight fitting bum short, that accentuated her backside and revealed her perfect thighs. She didn’t care for the stares and catcalls as she placed a call to the auto shop enquiring about their service.
Dimeji was feeling superb. He had just closed his second two hundred million Naira deal in a week. He was rocking Darey’s ‘Asiko’ on his car stereo and the volume was high. He was on cloud nine and nothing could go wrong. He was slamming his hand hard on his steering wheel as he drove back to the office at Adeyemo Alakija. He saw a lady standing beside her car and held his head. ‘Okokobioko!’ He forgot to brake as he continued staring at the enticing backside of the lady. He did not bargain for what happened next…
Dimeji had started turning to drive into Adeyemo Alakija when he got distracted by the lady’s backside. He did not see the traffic light change from green to yellow and then red, he was focused on the girl’s back thinking of the kind of damage he would wreck if he got a chance to ride that. By the time his reverie ended, it was too late. He was on a head on collision course with a speeding bike.
Instinctively, he slammed his feet on the brake, and swerved right to avoid the bike. It was a mistake. His car was dead centre of a lady who looked had a faraway look in her eyes and Dimeji knew couldn’t see him. ‘Dear God,’ was all he could mutter as he braced himself for the impact.
Ayeesha was lost in thought as she drove. Her mind was on the trouble that awaited her at home. Alli had called her and demanded she come home. Demanded! Her trepidation grew as she drew closer to their Lekki home. Someone screamed, she refocused, it was too late. She saw the car in front of her car. Saw the resigned look on the driver’s face, then she did the unthinkable. In the brief moment she saw the guy, she decided she wouldn’t be the cause of his death. She swerved left to avoid colliding with his car.
Her car careened as it went over the road divider and ran into opposite traffic there. Ayeesha did not get the chance to say a prayer as the car skidded sideways throwing her sideways and forward. The airbag in her car had already been activated and stopped her head from hitting the steering wheel.
Kemi had seen the impending collision and screamed. The driver of the Nissan Element car had swerved left and collided with opposing traffic, now she watched in horrow as the car skidded backwards tumbling as though she was seeing and American action movie stunt.
Tamuno had been urging the bike man to increase his speed, they had been riding for almost twenty five minutes. After being delayed at CMS due to predictable traffic, he knew the bike man would literally have to fly the motorcycle to satisfyhim. They were riding at top speed when the bike was halted by the driver who drove recklessly into the road. The bike-man applied the brakes and the bike lurched. He struggled to keep the bike under control, but found that a daunting task. The bike fell, and skidded along the road, dragging it’s riders with it on the express way.
Femi had been speeding away. He prided himself an excellent driver and so when he sensed the collision ahead, he waited slowed a bit and tried going straight down the Ozumba Mbadiwe. Suddenly a Honda Element SUV appeared in front of his car, he had no answer, he rammed the bouncing car, sending it tumbling backwards, his car was also hit from behind making his car skid and leave wide tyre marks all over the road.
It took less than ten seconds from the first collision to the last. By the time car owners and drivers could stop their cars and road user could breathe again, converging on the accident scene to help the people, it was too late for most of them.
Tamuno smiled lying on the express way. He could taste his blood his mouth. He was struggled to breathe as he drowned in his own blood. His nose had stopped functioning and he gave a wheezing sound every time he tried to breathe through his mouth. That job had eluded him, he let go, smiling as he embraced his end. Dimeji couldn’t hear or see anything. He had often heard that your life flashes before your face at the point of death. He desperately wanted to see, nada! All he heard was silence. Oh, well, it’s a perfect day to die. He smiled and embraced the grim reaper, the ultimate friend.
Femi always insisted that Damilare use the back seat belt. When they hit the car in front and got hit from behind, as the car careened, he saw that Damilare was safe at the back of the car. ‘Dear God, please take care of my boy.’ He prayed desperately as he struggled to keep his eyes open.
Kemi stood transfixed as she watched the rolling car arc towards her. ‘Dear God, if it misses me, I’ll change my ways…’ She didn’t get to finish that prayer as the Honda Element rammed her chest throwing her against her car. She died instantly. Ayeesha was smiling for the first time in a long while. This is the end, she was happy her wish had come true. There was no better way to die, she reckoned and resigned to fate.
Damilare was rescued from his father’s car. He had a deep gash on his head, otherwise, he was fine. His parents weren’t so lucky. His father’s head was bent forward as if in prayer, his mother’s neck had broken placing her head at an awkward angle. The little boy watched all the carnage around him, unsure how to respond. He was too dazed to even process the situation.
Tolu slowed, parked his mother’s car by the road and watched in awe the carnage before him. He recognised the bike-man and his passenger lying on the road lifeless. He vomited beside the road, sat on the pavement and wept to his heart’s content. Then, he brought out his phone to call Mr Rasaki their driver to come drive him home. He was not sure he would ever drive again; he had been scarred.
-In Memory of all those who have passed due to road accidents.
PS: most road accidents happened due to the carelessness of humans. So please, take your time, easy does it. Drive safe.