Before now, I have strictly admonished myself to never tell the tale of what transpired that night. The night I found out death was a woman. I came within kissing-distance of her. I was so close to death I practically smelt the stench of her putrid breathe, and gazed into the dark abyss of her eyes- beautiful eyes they were. To say it was sheer accident, is to make an excuse for my deed that near-fatal night in February. The memory of the traumatic experience have long been pushed back down, the deep dark end of my mind. Television, today, helped exhume the rotting bones to daylight.
It is a story that will earn me reproach from friends, family and haters. Telling the story of the night I romanced with death will afford me nothing more substantial than remorse and self-recrimination. I had every motivation to relieve myself of the memory, if for nothing, but to spite my detractors, but I had resisted the urge, sheerly to spite Death- the prime enemy.
Television-Watching, as well as writing, is therapeutic for me. I was watching 1000 Ways To Die on Sony Max. I like Sony Max for its satirical portrayal of the human condition. The ridiculously cynical manner that TV Channel presents its programmes is cathartic in the least. Catharsis works for me because it helps me hang loose and free. Now 1000 Ways To Die is one of such catharsis. The programme is a true-to-life re-enacted episodes of how various people have come to their end through preventable accidents. If I have learnt any lesson from TV, it is that most accidents are preventable. Sony Max taught me that. And in that programme, I drew a parallel with the near fatal accident I had that night in February 2012. An Okada accident.
I totally recall that incident: the time was the Lagos-madrush hours of 1900-2100 HRS, when commuters make a last ditch in their forlorn efforts to beat the traffic jam that had accumulated since 1600 HRS. I was madly rushing home to my favourite reality TV. I was the passenger, and an “Aboki” was the rider. We were speeding down the wrong lane to beat the traffic jam on Lagos-Badagry Expressway. A SUV, driven by a be-spetacled, motherly-looking lady, swerved our way in the bid to overtake the preceding recalcitrant danfo that had slowed down to take on passengers, she hit my Okada head-on.
I saw the moment of impact as a photo-finish snapshot. And then in slo-mo, I was gliding through space. The world was beneath me. The twinkling stars were looming larger than I have ever seen them. The disorientating silence, the surrealistic weightlessness, the panoramic view of everything bright and beautiful, great and small. The time warp lasted for a moment in which I saw the film of my whole life reel out. Then a bone-shattering thud; at the life-quenching impact as I reconnected with earth. Merciful darkness quickly embraced me; and that was me, or what had been my body, sprawled on the tarmac, facing heaven.
I have been warned against Aboki Okada, and I had sworn to My Dear Mama to never board an Aboki Okada in Lagos. When I asked her ‘why not?’ she said a prophet said so. I respect My Mama’s exhortations, especially when backed with scriptures, or “prophet said so”. And then, I was about to meet my maker and account for my sin of disobedience. But God was merciful.
The Sony Max 1000 Ways To Die episode that sparked off this memory was the one tagged “Die Jump” a parody of “High Jump”. It was the scene of an audition for sports commercial. The model had been trying very hard to please the agent. She had to pass a high jump trial and she easily cleared the 6 feet high bar. But unfortunately she missed the cushion and landed on her spine on the hard ground. For a moment I thought she was dead on impact, but she struggled up, and assured the petrified agent that she was fine. And she looked it with a smile as broad and bright and beautiful as spring sunshine.
However, she was prancing around showing off that she was fine and ready to take on the modelling for sports wears contract, when she got ran into by another high jumper who was just about to take off. She dropped dead that instant. From the analysis of the cause of her death, it was found that she had initially sustained fractures along her spine from her unfortunate high jump. The collision with the athlete had only aggravated her injury, resulting in her death (unnecessarily). Just that one small collision was her undoing.
Lights shone on my face, there were screams that actually sounded like something from Handel’s Messiah, there was a soloist soprano yelling “jeeeezus… jeeeezus… Blood of jeeeezus… ewooooo… chineke, anun na gbu mmadu o!” And then a voice sounding still and small, buzzing in my ears, was asking “oga… Oga… Are you alrght? Wetin be your name… are you alright answer me na…Oga… Oga…?” I couldn’t see anyone, and the voice sounded like is was coming from yesterday. I soon realize that I was unhurt beyond the shattered nerve, and disorientation. I’m sure my black belt in taekwondo and brown belt in Judo had subconciously helped break my fall. The bruises on my right fore-arm was the tell-tale sign.
In those youthful exuberant days, during fights I will leap into the air land on my back, efficiently breaking the fall by using the right forearm as a shock absorber and rolling along the right shoulder to squat or stand on my feet again. I have been taught well by My Coaches. This stunt has the pragmatic effect of scaring the adversary. Sending the signal that he (mostly males) is dealing with a dirty fighter. By the ethics of Martial Arts you may not employ your acquired skills and techniques in an offensive except you need to defend yourself in dire situations. And there, the techniques has been ingrained into my sub-consciousness. It saved my life because the Okada Man was not so lucky.
When I regained sufficient amount of my shattered senses, I had resisted and turned down all offer of rescue help from the crowd that had gathered. Someone was searching my pockets, and I had prevented my cash and phones from being stolen by some dint of luck than by conscious effort.
What The Episode of 1000 WAYS TO DIE has taught me was, the unskilled attempt to rescue me could have proven fatal. I have seen it happened: a mal-handling of accident victim could cause more injuries and death than help.
That night, I had taken another Okada home. And managed to shed my stained clothes and scuffed shoes unnoticed by my family. I never breathed a whiff of what transpired to anyone, and the trauma have haunted my dreams till now. And you say Television, besides sucking your brains out, is not therapeutic?
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