A brush with death!

I’m not afraid of death. It’s the stake one puts up in order to play the game of life. ~ Jean Giraudoux 

It was a bright morning on Thursday, August 13, 2015. I woke up and did my usual practice of praying before

stepping out of my room to see my mum. My dad came from Abuja for a wedding ceremony just about a week ago and he was still around. I got information that law school posting and registration had started in the Law faculty in school which necessitated my journey. As was my habit when traveling, I had packed my things the night before and all I had to do was get set and depart. So, at about 8am, I drove out and headed for my alma-matar.

Meanwhile, I wanted to see my mechanic to collect the car-jack for the vehicle. He had worked on the car the previous week and called me penultimate night to inform me he forgot to return the jack into the car trunk (I hadn’t even noticed). Therefore, I went straight to Aleshinloye area of Ibadan very early to get the jack. There was a very serious traffic logjam just before I got to the Aleshinloye junction. The police had blocked the road and were directing cars into the Iyaganku GRA. You either go where you’re directed or turn back. Everyone knows a man cannot remember his will to do what he likes when he sees a gun pointed in his direction.

I took a shortcut, the Court road and it was still blocked by policemen & that was when I remembered I was even supposed to be in court for the Oyo state gubernatorial election petition tribunal. If I wasn’t traveling that morning, I definitely should be there as my boss at Boye & co. was the counsel representing INEC in the case. It was very frustrating, after being static and spending close to an hour in traffic, I still couldn’t reach my destination.
I decided to forgo the jack till I came back from my trip and immediately called the mechanic to inform him. I also called my parents to brief them what happened & that I was now set for Osun state.

Like I said earlier, it was frustrating for me to have wasted so much time being on a traffic & the police blocked all the road surrounding the High court simply because a governorship tribunal was ongoing. What of the people just plying the roads and had no interest in the proceedings? I’m not sure but maybe the frustration and sense of lateness to where I was going is the answer for my speeding. The speedometer must have exceeded 110mph as I headed back to the school I just graduated from.

I was in between Ibadan and Osun state when the accident happened. A little farther and you’d get to the Coca-Cola company’s production site near the Asejire bridge. I was trying to over-run or overtake an articulated truck when suddenly I discovered what seemed like a pothole. I panicked and within that split second, brake had been pressed and control lost. I couldn’t swerve left for I would be consumed by the large trailer. I swerved right and the car ran into the bush. Eyewitnesses said, “at that point the car was up like an helicopter!” I felt the car somersault but I couldn’t see anything anymore, for the sight was entirely blurry and full of flames. I was perceiving strange smells. The car kept going till it hit a large rock ( the point of contact made a visible mark on the rock) and then stopped. Even when it stopped, it somersaulted once more and landed on the driver’s side, where I was. At this point, I thought I was dead! The two front airbags came out.

When the turbulence stopped, I was afraid the car might explode (for it rested on the side which houses the gasoline). With all the power left in me, I untied the seat belt and climbed out of the car. By this time, the policemen who luckily for me had their checkpoint on the opposite lane were already running towards the scene to help me. The first one said congratulations and offered a handshake which I was very reluctant to take. Those five policemen were blessings to me I must say, may God bless them abundantly. They told me to calm down, took me to their vehicle, made me sit down and went to get my valuables for me from the car. They brought me my phone so I could call my family. I called my dad who was already driving out by then, told him I had an accident and he said he was coming right away. The only other person I called was my girlfriend who would have come right away if I didn’t insist she shouldn’t.

While waiting for my dad to come get me, those policemen remained civil to me and three of them shared their own near-death experiences. One of them said he was rescued through the car trunk when he had an accident a year ago, as the car doors refused to open. The second one said he nearly lost his life and that the good samaritans who rescued him thought he was dead for he wasn’t moving when brought out. The third one said he nearly died too.

They made me feel like it was not abnormal to have a road accident and even told me the mistake I made. I was amazed by the expertise of the gentlemen. I didn’t know there were still some good policemen around. Ever since my dad retired from the Force years ago, I had not met many reasonable policemen which made me zero my mind on the men in black. The fourth one had a large physique and worked for me the most. He was up and doing. He went to unplug the car battery to avoid any explosion, saying he also felt the strange burning smell from the car.

It was only the fifth guy who was a little hostile and was just asking me questions. There’s always a black sheep in a gathering of people. Where his colleagues calmed me down and told me my life was more important than the car, he never said sorry to me. When he opened his lips to talk, he asked me where I was coming from & going to, what sort of job I was doing e.t.c. In Nigeria, when an average policeman sees young men like me behind the wheels, they feel one must be a shady person. All they want to do is squeeze you and ask questions. Can’t you just be privileged and have a ride? It shouldn’t be seen as a luxury but for what it is, a necessity of daily living!

To say the fact, the accident I had was enough to claim my life and I don’t know how God saved me. Well, this could only mean I still have a purpose here in this life. Now, I’m only going to work even harder to achieve those purposes I’m here for. There’s no doubt the incident of Thursday has forever changed my life & approach to living! Now, there is no place I can ever rush to and I’ve learnt that slow and steady wins the race. The driver in a hurry may never reach his destination, meanwhile, the gentle driver will eventually reach his designed post no matter how long it takes. Also, airbags and seat-belts could really make the difference and anyone driving should always fasten the belt! If I didn’t do that on Thursday, I probably would be in ICU right now!

My co-worker at the chamber (Boye Sobanjo & co.), knowing I was traveling on the following day, had as at Wednesday asked me to get her something when coming. On my to-do list for the next day I wrote I was going to get her chocolates. She wanted me to also get something else done which I was going to do, it was in my diary. I had packed a white shirt to give to an orphan opposite my house once I came back, a young boy staying with his grandparents. I had planned to send a surprise airtime (asides payment) to my mechanic for working on the car for me just last week, a work that thrilled me. I had a whole life ahead of me, so many people I wanted to serve, places to be, dreams to fulfill, accomplishments to be made and God to praise.

I planned to make my parents happy and change my country for good one day. I had so many unfulfilled dreams that would have gone down the drain if I died yesterday. So many people would have ‘died’ following mine. My best friend, Tobi Ajibade when he heard about the accident, said he would not have been able to live with himself if anything worse had happened to me. I was going to the Nigerian Law school in few months after which I’d become a full-fledged lawyer. I was still going to get married and have kids someday. I didn’t deserve to die through a road accident. Nobody deserves such a brutal death.
Back then when I was still writing the My Life series ( Vols. 1 to 4) and other sober notes, I used to talk about death so much my friends were afraid for me. My frustration in real life came out in my write-ups. I later discovered that some of my family members were avid readers of my blog just so they could read my next suicide notes! I’m so sure of at least one person who was reading my write-ups for that singular reason. Well, people like to know what goes on in other people’s life.

The accident happened around 10:10am because I called my dad at exactly 10:43am (call log ). Around the same period, I updated my blackberry messenger and torrents of sympathy messages came in within minutes. I had to remove the post soon afterwards. While some of my bbm contacts showed how real they are, some simply displayed the folly of mankind. I had some people asking me what happened even after the wrecked car was on my display picture. What else could have happened asides an accident? Some people cannot console the afflicted unless they know exactly, word for word, what happened, how it happened and where the tragedy occurred. Moreover, I’m not even supposed be able to tell you exactly what happened, being the main victim of the accident. Was I supposed to bring out my camera phone to get snapshots as my car tumbled? I think it was wrong of anybody to have asked me all those probing questions & to rub salt on injury, it was just moments after the accident when I was still very restless. In fact, I was dazed for hours. I was only able to recollect as the five policemen who were the real eyewitnesses talked about what happened. It was all like a movie and I was the main actor. Just that I had no script here, not even a premonition of what would happen.

Finally, I still don’t know under which tag to place the incidents surrounding my accident on Thursday. I don’t know if it was mercy of God, uncommon favour, providence, co-incidence or whatever. But I simply know God lives and He loves me deeply. For instance, if I had carried a passenger on that trip, the person could have died when the tumbling occurred. If my passenger lost his/her life while I survived, people would have said I did rituals with the person’s life. We’ve heard such stories before. I was still in shock till yesterday. Woke up by 4am and couldn’t sleep, only memories and flashbacks of the accident. I have so many reasons to thank God and just don’t know where to start from. I came out unhurt from such a wreck. What a miracle!!!

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