When Juwon was thirteen years old, she and her mother were taking a walk in the Estate. As they made to turn into their street on their way back home, a car came speeding from just around the corner; he must have been doing 160km on a 40km speed limit road. He was young, couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16. She heard a loud scream and the sound of tyres screeching, and then a loud thud. A bright light flashed before her eyes and she shut them tightly. When she opened them again what she saw was her mother’s body lying still on the floor. The young boy, utterly frightened, came down briefly to meet Juwon screaming at the top of her voice. She looked at him and beckoned on him to help. Her mother was still breathing. He stood still; obviously shocked and sorely afraid. Then he rushed back into the car and zoomed off.
Almost immediately, another car pulled over, it was Kunle’s mother; she was on her way back from the market. She rushed out and helped Juwon put her mother in the back seat and rushed them to the hospital. The car smelt of livestock and blood; Juwon wasn’t sure if it was from the meat in the bag on the floor of the back seat of the car, or if it was her mother, who was lying still in her young, slender arms.
At the hospital lobby while her mother laid on the operating table, under theatre lights, Juwon sat trying to make sense of the last thirty minutes. She remembered the breakfast of toast bread and orange juice her mother made for her, how she complained that the bread was too dry, and the juice too sour and how it stung her cheeks. She remembered her mother’s smile as she said to her, “Darling, it’s farm fresh juice, it’s healthier for you.”
She was cranky all morning and her mother suggested they go for a walk, “Come on Jumy, let’s go for a walk, let the warm air flush away this mood you’ve been in all morning.” She hated herself for being cranky that morning. She regretted complaining about the bread, about the juice, about everything she complained about.
Sitting there in the hospital lobby gave her enough time to review what had just happened. She remembered skipping and hopping as they returned home, ignoring her mother’s warning to be careful on the curbs of the Estate road. When her mother couldn’t take it, she tried to constrain her on the curbs. Juwon hopped and skipped on and bumped into her mother on one of such occasions. She pushed her further into the road just as the car came speeding along the road. He knocked her right off and only managed to not run over her.
The doctors came out to confirm the severity of the situation. It had been five hours of surgery. The accident had fractured her vertebrae and caused severe damages to her spinal cord, chances of her walking again was next to nothing. As the Doctor was sharing the news with Juwon and Kunle’s mum a Nurse came running towards him from the theatre, “Doctor, please hurry, the patient is seizing, we suspect intracranial haemorrhaging.”
“O my God!” The Doctor nearly yelled as he rushed off with the Nurse back into the theatre.”
He wasn’t gone for long this time, but he found it even harder to explain the situation when he returned. You see, all intracranial bleeds have the potential to compress the brain and cause seizures and other problems. Usually they have to remove part of the victim’s skull to relieve the pressure. And that was the case with Juwon’s mum. She came out of it eventually, and when Juwon finally got the chance to see her, she opened her eyes, and that’s about all she could do.
Confined to eternal dependence for as long she lived, Juwon knew her mother depended on her to do what was necessary. That’s why when the police asked her if she remembered anything about the vehicle that hit her mum, or what the driver looked like, she insisted she remembered nothing. But every time she looked in her mother’s eyes from that day, she saw him, his young innocent face and his afro. She remembered the vehicle was a navy-blue coloured Mercedes Benz 230E model. She remembered the plate number and she remembered his voice just before he turned back and zoomed off when he said “Shit!”