Ade got home still in utter shock. He had just knocked down a woman. He only managed to drive all the way home without crashing as he had been shivering terribly. He rushed to the fridge in the kitchen to get a drink of water. He poured some into a glass and his lips trembled as the chilled water touched them. He let go of the glass and slammed his hands against his ears as memories of the little girl’s screaming rang loud in his head again. He was scared. Pieces of shattered glass laid about the floor. He ignored the sharp sting on his left knee as splinters of the glass flew up and pierced him there. The shock he was in numbed every other form of pain at that moment. He thought of going back. No. What if the woman had died? What if the police had gotten there? He thought. The little girl would recognise him and he would be arrested and spend the rest of his life in jail. What would his father say if he heard he had been arrested, and for killing somebody? His father had asked him not to touch the car yet, he wanted him to finish his driving lessons and get his license before he would let him drive. Ade would not have that. He insisted on driving the car against his father’s advice. So when his father was away at work, he took the car for a cruise around the estate and on his way back he knocked down Juwon’s mother who was then lying helplessly on the hospital bed.
Ade’s father did not return until late at night that day. Ade fought himself terribly, undecided about what he should do. Tell his father and lose the car forever, or not tell him and live with never knowing if the woman died or not, and if anyone would recognise him from the accident.
There were whispers and talks in the estate about the accident, but the stories were neither consistent nor suggested real knowledge nor desire to uncover the identity of the driver of the vehicle. A few days after the accident, on his way back from going to buy a few items from the estate store, Ade happened in on a conversation between two other customers at the cash-out point:
“I heard it was a very big jeep that hit her, that’s why her spinal cord was damaged.”
“No, it was not a jeep, it was one of those new model saloon cars, and her spinal cord is not damaged, it’s her brain, I heard it cracked open when she hit the floor and you could see her brain,”
“Hian! See her brain ke, how na. How come she’s still alive if that’s the case na?”
“Me I don’t know o. Anyways, it’s her daughter I really pity sef, such a little girl, I wonder what she would do now…”
He hurried out of the store and could barely carry his legs as the weight of his conscience pressed heavily on his legs and severally he nearly fell to the ground. That night he begged his father that he wanted to go live with his mother in the United States, he said Nigeria was becoming too hot for him.
After several admissions in the hospital for what the doctors referred to as ‘Mind vs Body Trauma’ Mr Ojo, Ade’s father had to succumb to his son’s request to relocate to the United States to be with his mother.
He was terribly confused, Ade had not suffered any trauma, he didn’t know of any.
“Has your son had any traumatic experiences lately Mr Ojo?” The doctor asked calmly.
“None that I am aware of doctor, and I would know of any, I am his father.”
“Well, it appears there might be some things you do not know about your son then.”
“You are mistaken doctor; there is hardly anything I do not know about my boy.”
“Hmmm…okay, how about his mother, perhaps she might know something you don’t?”
“His mother is away in the United States, we’ve been separated three years now.”
“O, I see…and when last did Ade get to see his mother?”
“He hasn’t been to see her since she left. Although, he did come to me recently asking to go live with his mother in the States.”
“Perhaps you should listen to him then. That may be the problem, because we conducted several tests and there seems to be nothing really wrong with his body. The problem is his mind; it appears to be at war with something.”
“At war with something? What does that even mean doctor?”
Mr Ojo made all the necessary arrangements and one month later Ade was hugging his mother tightly in the United States after three years of being apart from her.
Perhaps there was something in the air in the States, but Ade seemed to win the battle that raged in his heart since the accident. As days went by the memory of that event faded, one detail, one fragment, one piece at a time. He forget he ever drove a car like the one he drove that day; he forgot the image of the woman lying helplessly on the floor of the tarred road of the estate; and soon enough, he forgot the screams of the little girl kneeling beside her mother and calling for help.
Ade was got better in the States. He made new friends, finished high school and went on to get a degree in Economics from one of the top colleges in the states. He didn’t miss his father or Nigeria, never went back to visit home. Life was good in America.
You see, there is something about the future, it is mostly only the past entered through another door, and Ade’s past was surely going to walk in through the front door when he had to return to Nigeria after being away for about twelve years, but he did not know it yet.