Finally, our much awaited Industrial Training (IT) was around the corner. Everybody was jostling for his own IT letter. After the semester’s exam in May 2009 every 300 level student in the faculty of sciences and 400 level students in the faculty of engineering said farewell to each other for a period of six months where each and everyone of us would be ways on our compulsorily training.
Before I left Rivers State fir Lagos, I submitted close to 20 copies of my letters to different institutions for a space to learn their trade. In a month’s time, I received no reply from any of them even with all my pestering and greasing of palms in other to work at one of the prestigious oil companies. I kept in touch with my relatives in Lagos and they hook me up.
In less than a week I was roaming the street of Lagos from one office to another submitting letters of application. It was after surveying Lagos for two luminous weeks I got a call inviting me for an interview at the African Independent Television (Alagbado). After the interview, the personnel manager came in and addressed us on how they run their operations. Then he said, in their firm they don’t pay IT students before he could finish the statement there was uproar of murmuring in the hall. He said “that’s our policy” then stormed out. We were then asked to check a week later for our result.
I got home and though it over and presented it to my mum. She said she would support my transportation that I should put my interest in what they are doing and acquire some skills. I imagined working for an internationally recognized organization for six months without pay. I decided to accept the offer because there is a saying that “A BIRD IN HAND IS WORTH TEN IN THE BUSH”, and since my mother was willing to assist me, I had nothing to loose.
Two months into the job and I was picking up faster than I imagined. The job became interesting by the day as dignitaries and stars trooped in everyday for interviews and shows. The height of excitement was when we were informed that we would broadcast the burial ceremony of popular lawyer and activist Chief Gani Fawehimi live. I was among those picked to cover the event. After all these years I have seen, heard and idolized him only to see him in passing. It was a big experience as politicians and Royal highnesses grace the Nigeria Police College Ikeja to hounour a man well known for his philanthropic, humanitarian and selfless services to the nation (Nigeria).
It was after the lying in state when we were dismantling the satellite that my phone rang and I excused myself to pick up the call. I shouted with thinking when I heard the news that I was shortlisted for an interview at NLNS on bonny Island Rivers State in two weeks time.
I looked forward to those two weeks with an eager and devouring mind as I have finally been invited by an oil company. I booked a flight ahead and wrote a letter to my supervisor that I was going to school for an important registration. He took a look at the date and said no problem since there is no major outing (OB) ahead.
Three days before I was to leave Lagos for Port Harcourt something that looked like a premonition happened.
That morning, I was on my way to work, I stood at the bus-stop waiting to get a vehicle when a car came from God knows where and hit me. Though I was not injured but I shouted at the driver to be careful and he apologized and left. On getting to a place where I would get another bus an okada climbed my leg, this time I was furious and I hit him with my fist and a crowed gathered and were helping me rain curses at him. While they were at it I told him to go in peace. Though I was feeling pains but I had to go to work. He offered to take me to where I was going to at least serve as restitution for what he has done to me. I ignored him and climbed on another bike which took me to the office in one piece.
After much assembling and dismantling of satellite dishes and reposition of their station in search of signal from an invisible satellite in space in a stormy wealthier, all our efforts to establish a strong point was futile. At about 4pm, we decided to hang our boots and continue the next day. I had a nice shower and ate at the canteen before I left the premises. Going back the same way I came in the morning. This time every where was crowed as people trooped out from factories and other industrial firms around. It was as if the Israelites were intending to go across the River Jordan a second time because everybody was moving in the same direction. I blended into the crowd after all I was also a worker who has just closed from work.
I noticed people stopping at strategic point, some were either listening to people who marketing their product by telling and engaging people with fictional stories. As I was use to Lagos and their wayo policy I moved on not knowing that people were stopped by the security personnel of the Nigerian Railway Co-operation. I was so caught up in my phone that I did not even hear the honking of the train. I was pushing my way through the crowd all the way to the front as if I wanted touch the hem of the garment of Jesus Christ.
I was walking majestically on the veil truck with the train just about 50 meters away from me while I was still caught up with my phone. Suddenly, I felt a hard push on my back that made me loose balance of my footing that I fell with my face to the ground. Looking back at what caused me to fall; I saw people staring at me, other shouting thank God. That was when I heard the rickety jickety of the train. I looked back and saw the train moving with no intention of stooping. I went back down with my face in my hands just full of shame. I couldn’t help but I lay flat there until my savior rubbed my head and told me its OK now, you can stand up. When I heard the soothing try little feminine voice I burst into tears. It’s a lady who has just saved my life I thought. She pulled me up with a straight that could never be predicted she had. People stood and were conversing in different groups about how I just escaped death. “Sorry eh”, take it easy”, Wetin young boy like you dey think” were the words coming out from the crowd and bystanders.
“Sorry, I push you so hard”. Were the next words that pierced my ear drum. Then I realized I was walking with the lady who just saved my life. “Sorry you say” I said gasping for breath. “Thanks a million, I own you my life” I said with a water logged eyes. “Where are you going?” she asked. I am ….. I am …………I pause then spluttered in a low pitched voice, ‘I am going to Giwa –Okearo’. What a co-incidence, I am going that way to; she grinned.
We sat silently together in a bus going to Giwa. I looked at her face with keen interest that I noticed she had a mark on her temple, her eyes were well massacred the powder (Mark Kay) on her face was evenly disturbed. She wore a white console with a back jacket on her hands and was wearing black pants. She must be a banker. I concluded. I stretched my hand to her saying my name is Bishop and she took my hands and said “am Adaobi. “Thank a million, I will forever be grateful” were the words I told her “Don’t mention God has a purpose for your life” and just have to fulfill it” were her next words. We exchanged phone numbers and parted ways. As soon as I got home, I called to tell her I was home safe and sound.
My flight to Port Harcourt was scheduled for Sunday morning just 4 days away. I could not go to work any longer. I felt very lazy to even take my bath. I would sit down on my bed in the morning reading the bible hoping God will reveal the purpose he has for my life, because I escaped death three times in one day. I did not tell anyone of my ordeal but I only confided in Adaobi because I took her as my guardian angel from that day hence forth. I told her about the other accidents that happened early in the day. I also told her I had an interview on Monday in Rivers State on an Island that I have booked my flight already. She urged me to pray and fast that everything would be alright.
I was contemplating if I should go for the interview. I heard on the midday news that a boat carrying 37 people capsized and there were no survivors. Then it stringed me that I will be unable to swim to safety even with my life jacket. I also reflected on the Belleview and SOSOLISO air crash that happened in Lagos and Port Harcourt respectively (No survivors). The only two means of transportation left were the ones I needed most to get to my destination if U really wanted to take the interview. After much contemplation, I decided that Sunday morning will tell for itself and I would just live my life till that day and see what it brings.
I went to work on Friday in native attire and a Fulani cap as it was the Muslims day of obligation (Jimoh). Everything went well at the end of the day I went into my supervisors’ office to remind him that I would be absent the next week “d it already time: he stared into the calendar. “Yes Sir, I managed to reply. He dipped his hands into his pocket and handed me five one thousand Naira notes (minted) and said manage this and be back as soon as you can. “Thank you Sir” I said with grime all over face.
I got home, took a shower and packed my back for the Sunday trip and dosed off. At about 9pm I woke up and heard noises from the direction of the living room. Wondering what could bring about the noise. I was nothing but Dbanj’s koko mansion that was being aired on HITV that brought about the noise.
For the fact that God has given me a second chance to live, I decided to treat everyone to a glorious dinner of fried yam and scrambled egg. I entered the kitchen and began to peel the yam when my mum came and said “Hellooo…..are you alright?” why not I questioned “It’s not your birthday and you are cooking for the house, don’t you think its weird? She asked rhetorically and left. I put the dish in one big tray and displayed it on the center table and decorated it sides as if it was back in the 80’s when they celebrate birthdays in that manner. Everyone munched on the food
Without praying. When I tried stopping them so that we can pray, my elder brother Mike said sharply “did you put poison”? If you did just know that you are killing your only family. Everybody laughed and ate. Finally the tray was empty and everyone dispersed through the different doors. I stood up and left for church and told them I will be back the next morning, that it was an all-night.
My mother’s voice calling after me that I should pray for them.
I was Saturday night and I have still not decided whether am traveling or not. I brought out my ticket; look at it with keen interest as if I was seeing it for the first time. The flight was scheduled for 6:30am on Sunday. I slept off like a baby with an undecided mind. The night was so short that in a space of about an hour I work up and glanced at the time it was 5am already. I rushed into the shower and took a cold bath and was humming a song when my brother knocked and asked if I was ready so he could drop me off at the airport before he goes to church. I came out with my bag and entered the car. At first it refused to start, after much fiddling it came to life and we were on the move. In the wee-hours of that morning there was a little traffic and immediately I began to feel uneasy. We got to the spot that caused the traffic; an accident involving a motorist and a cyclist. A woman was crying bitterly cursing her ancestor for inflicting this pain on her. Her son has been rushed to the nearest hospital with blood trailing his track. 10 minutes away from the accident scene was a shoe probably belonging to the victim?
The next 10 minutes in the car was as calm as the cemetery could be at night. I was deep in thought when my brother asked me “hope you are not forgetting anything?” “Where is your ticket” Then I woke up from my slumber and searched my jacket’s inner pocket and didn’t find it. The car came to a halt. I jumped down and went to the bag seat where my bag sat and emptied it. It’s not here, maybe it’s on ……………..then I remembered I was with it when I slept off. My brother said hope in lets hurry back and get it before it’s late. My head was already calculating the probability of meeting up when I know we were 20 minutes north from home, 10 minutes south of the airport and 5 minutes east of the church. Either way, I will miss the flight. I entered the car and told him that lets just forget this trip and go to church. He looked stunned and started the car moved a bit further and turned right towards the church.
As I entered the church from the rear I saw a familiar face but it vanished into the midst of the choir. IT was mid way into mass during the Holy Communion was when I saw who it really was. I was on my way from the alter with humble reverence as we were thought during catechism days.
The innocence of the face produced a smile that revealed a set of white teeth and two unequal dimples that could melt a bar of steels. It was her, my guardian angel the one from the train incident. “Why is she here, how did she know I would be here today”? Were thought that ran through my mind. After the mass, I walked up to her and with another enchant smile she said “Am coming please”.
We exchanged pleasantries and I held her right hand in my left and took her through the north-east gate. “Good morning are you not suppose to on a flight to Port Harcourt” she said look at her watched. “I missed my flight so I decided not to miss the mass”. I replied.
IF I was on that flight, I wouldn’t have seen you. Thank God, I missed the flight rather than miss you.
I guess it’s a blessing in disguise. But which blessing is it?