Driving had always been forbidden to me at home. I wasn’t even allowed to drive my father’s BMW 3 series round our compound. I can’t blame my parents for the non-driving rule; I blame the curiosity in my elder siblings. My elder brother once reversed the car with its right door opened, and unfortunately for him, the opened door hit a carpenter work-bench in the compound, and the door dented badly. My elder sister too pulled her own stunts years later. She pressed the throttle when she supposed to press the brake. In doing so, she rammed the car against a mango tree in our compound.
Father promised me he would teach me how to drive when I turned eighteen. But I guessed curiosity got the better part of me that I couldn’t wait till then. Fortunately for me, my Dad changed his car to an automatic car, a Kia Sedona.
It was two weeks before my eighteenth birthday. In my mind, I was convinced I could drive. Maybe it’s the way I drove the cars in Grand Theft Auto V on my ps3 console; or the numerous driving videos I watched on YouTube. Whenever Dad left home without driving his car, maybe to friend’s house or to community meetings, I would hop into the car and start the engine, reversing it on a straight line without turning. As time grew, I began to turn, and before long, I had become an adept at driving in our compound.
Driving was the 2nd thing that gave me joy. The first thing being Aisha, my crush. She was one human who made me lose my thoughts. To me, she was like a mermaid with no fish tail. Like those mermaid in folklores, combing their golden hairs while sailors wreck their ships on rocks while trying to get to her. She was fair skinned. Though it is a common axiom that all fair skinned ladies are beautiful, I can bet Aisha was an exception to this. It you could change her skin colour to black, I am pretty sure her beauty will remain undiluted. Her eyes were sharp edged oval shaped like that of Chinese. Her eyebrow wasn’t bushy and they were carefully shaped. Her lips were natural light brown, and they did well in guarding her sparkling white teeth. She has a dimple on both cheeks. All these were placed in a round shaped head.Aisha lived not far away from my house in Lagos. I had taken my first killer step in becoming her friend. The second step was in the making. I only needed a date, and my dart would hit the target. I got the chance sooner than I expected.
It was Saturday morning, and for unknown reasons, Dad’s car refused to start. After checking the batteries, and plugs, and still no changes, he resolved to fate.
“Kayode,” he said, “I’ve called the mechanic, and he will come by 2:00pm. Make sure you are around by the time he comes, and watch his every movement. Don’t let him steal anything from my car.”
“Here is the key.” He said, handling me the keys.
Up to that point, I was holy, pure and a disciple of obedience. All these titles shattered when the mechanic came earlier than expected at 11:00am. By 11:30am, he was through, and the car was back to normalcy. Handling me back the keys, he said, “Tell ya pale say na the plug get fault, and I don wash am.”
“But he checked the plug this morning,” I intercepted
“But he checked the plug,” he mimicked, “Ya pale na mechanic? Abegi, tell am say he needs to buy a new set of plugs. The ones way I wash no go last long o. I go still call him, but you too use mouth talk am.”
Then he left. As he left through our brown gate, an evil though seeped into my mind.
Why not carry the car to Aisha’s house and trip her out on a surprise date. It will be fun and she can’t say no to it.
Without giving it second thoughts, I opened the gate and drove out. Aisha lived at Meiran, not far away from my house at Kola bus stop. I had visited her before, one of those low cost houses in Meiran estate with bad road that was filled with pot holes.The drive to Meiran was smooth, even though Danfo drivers screamed at me from time to time, as my hands shook on the steering. I managed the car well in the numerous potholes at Meiran estate, and before long, I was at Aisha house.
“She isn’t in,” Aisha’s younger sister told me, “she went out with my mother to Eko this morning, and they are yet to come back.”
“Thank you,” I managed to say.
I didn’t notice that the dark clouds moving with increasing pace across the sky. Rain, incoming… I sensed. I rushed to the car, started the engine, preparing to beat the rain. But I was late. The rain started even before I move.I didn’t have an experience of driving in the rain, so I decided to wait till the rain subsided before I start my journey. After 30 mins of minimum rainfall, it subsided.
I began to drive slowly. The potholes I had driven across earlier were no longer visible. All I saw were tea coloured flood. Driving in it was hard like driving a bicycle at the beach. Hard or no hard, I drove on, to the best of my ability.Toward the entrance of the estate, I saw some area boys with their trousers rolled up, and they were passing vehicles, warning them against dangerous parts of the road.Soon it was a turn for them to direct me.
“Right…right… turn … right…left…no…right.” They shouted.
I was confused, but I could hear ‘right’ as the predominant direction. So I turned right. At that moment, I sensed it. I was jammed. I pressed the throttle, but the back tire only rolled, spraying water backwards. The area boys were coming towards me, so I unwound the glass.
“Shebi we dey shout say make you no turn right, you no gree,” one of them accused. His voice was harsh, and his teeth were brown, probably due to marijuana he smokes.
“I heard turn right, that’s why I turned right,” I defended.
“You dey claim customer always right abi? I pity you, you no know say you don enter casala,”
“Please, I was merely following your instructions,”
“All those one na story. ya car don jam,”
I pressed the throttle once more, and more water was been sprayed by the back tire.
“You dey form actor now. Make I leave you nigbayen,”
“Please don’t leave, help me tell your guys to help me push the car. I will do whatever you ask of me.”
”One of them eyed at me, “Bring 20 ba.”
“20 ba, N20,000… where I wan see that one,” I shouted, changing my language to pidgin… “Abegi, no be me get this car, na my pale.”
“See the way you dey talk, na my pale get the car,” one of the area boys mimicked. He bulged out his eyes and stared at me, “Omo baba olowo, na 20 ba, no bargaining.”
I banged my hands against the steering, and breathed out, my mind hinged on the N1000 in my breast pocket. I knew there was no way the area boys will collect N1000 from me, and they were the one who intentionally directed me to the deep pothole because they had seen I was a guy and they mistook me for the son of a richman.
There was this saying my physical education teacher use to shout whenever we were on the football field; if you lose the ball, don’t lose the leg. For me, I had missed both; I was in a double wahala, a deep shit.