ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS THAT LIFE SERVED ME (Part 2)
I began this by telling the story of the events leading up to my mom getting shot by armed robbers on the streets of Lagos.
We found that the bullet had snapped her spine clean and she instantly became a paraplegic. Maybe not instantly, as I am sure the multitude of “Good Samaritans” that came to her aid helped her on the path to paralysis in no small measure.
After she parked the car by the side of Adelabu Street to pick us up from school on that busy Lagos afternoon my mom heard a coarse voice that bellowed, “Madam get out of the car.”
You see my dad had just bought her a brand new Peugeot 505 2.0 sedan. In the mid to late 80s that car was “da bomb”. To me right now it looks like an antique that got blown out of the 2nd World War French Resistance but back then I felt it was KITT in the Knight Rider.
And I obviously wasn’t alone in thinking that as most armed robbers in Lagos probably thought same.
As she spun round to assess what gave the speaker the temerity to ask her out of her car she saw a gun pointed at her.
Immediately she said, “Take the car but please let me take my child first.” My last brother, Kenechi, who was 3 years old at the time was right behind with his classmate from Madonna Nursery School, Ufanette.
The robber had an accomplice, and while he was patient with my mom as she tried to pull the kids out of the car the accomplice was not. He pulled his gun and shot point blank at my mom. The first bullet missed her by inches but in either an inebriated or anxious state, or maybe just because he was demon possessed, this guy shot again and the bullet went through her neck.
As she dropped to the ground the first robber shouted, “You have killed her!!”
They tossed my mom out, as well as the 3 year old boys who had just experienced the most traumatic day they probably would ever have in their lives. Then they got into the car and drove down Adelabu Street towards Ogunlana Drive. They had done less than 30 meters before the car stopped them. The car had a demobilizer and my mom had turned it on when she parked the car.
They got down a few meters after the NEPA office and then opened fire on a man driving past in his Volkswagen Santana. I guess they killed him instantly but then they threw his body in the trunk of the car and drove off with him with an irate mob hot on their tails. With a few more shots in the air they made their escape.
Several other people rushed around my mom and grabbed her from the floor, all bloodied, and rushed her into a vehicle. I can imagine they only meant well but as there were no emergency services they, in their bid to save her life, must have broken her spine irreparably while trying in their overzealousness to pick her up.
I remember when my dad came back from his trip with his driver bringing him in from work. As he opened the door with a normal delighted demeanor at seeing his kids the expression changed to intense confusion as all of us had words tumbling out our mouths in a cacophony of cries.
He leapt back and before we could say anything we saw him jump into his car and shoot out of the compound as Mama Obiora, a neighbor of ours, and Aunty Ethel (Ufanette’s mum) who was another neighbor of ours almost tumbled out of the car as they frantically tried to join him.
He went off and we didn’t see him till very late at night. Family friends of ours, the Nnochiris, came to pick us up. Uche was my elder brother’s friend and agemate, Ezinne was my agemate, and the last kid was Kachi Nnochiri; I think he was my kid brother’s agemate.
Shortly after, young children that we were, we forgot our mother and played with Uche and Ezinne till late. We were getting ready to go to bed when Uche’s dad told us we couldn’t pass the night as our dad had come and insisted on taking us back home.
We cried but knew it wouldn’t change anything as my dad would never let us sleep outside the house under any circumstances (the first time I went on any sort of vacation without my parents and siblings was just after Secondary School).
He took us back home and woke up early in the morning to bathe everyone of us and take us to school.
He did this everyday for the next week or so.
I remember waking up and walking out into the sitting room. It was very dark, but I could tell from the digital table clock that the time was 4:00am.
My dad was sitting down with nothing but his towel wrapped around his waist.
He was looking down at the floor. I could see him crying because the limited light from the electrical appliances that were switched off and the digital clock had cast on him so I could make out that he was sobbing. He didn’t see me until I came close. When he saw me he carried me till I fell asleep and then returned me to my bed.
It was later in the week that my mom’s kid sister came. Aunty Uzoyibo became for many years my second mom.
She left her education and all to move in with us and take care of us while my mom was taken to Frankfurt, Germany for further treatment.
Say what you may about Ibrahim Babangida, the former “military president” of Nigeria, but I will not forget how my dad told me he gave him the sum of 50,000 Deutsche Marks to help him offset the cost of keeping her in one of the best hospitals in Europe.
Medicine didn’t do much though, as after a year plus she came back paralyzed and completely unable to move anything from her neck down.
The doctors in Germany put a pacemaker in her chest and said to her, “Sorry you will never be able to walk again.”
After my mom got shot things went south really fast. It didn’t help that earlier that same year I was involved in a life defining motor accident. A few months before my mom’s incident.
I remember I was at home watching T.V with my younger ones. I even remember what was on T.V- Robin Hood.
It was showing on NTA 2 Channel 5 (unlike the present satellite and cable T.V generation we were spoilt for choice with a grand total of 4 extremely exciting stations in the aforementioned Channel 5, NTA Channel 10, NTA Channel 7 Ikeja, and Lagos Television/Lagos Weekend Television. 3 of them were as exciting as watching paint dry).
On this eventful day, the water suddenly stopped running out our taps at home and so momsie had to make contingency plans.
My elder brother, Chiagor, and our domestic aide, a Togolese girl named Nonusi (I think that’s the spelling) went across the road to get water.
Our house at Nnobi Street, Ikate, Surulere, was adjacent to “Franca Fashions”, a boutique which was owned by a lady who my mom was friendly with.
So they went to get the water and I wanted to go with them. My mom said no. I sat down on my chair sulking, but as soon as she went into the kitchen that thing that said it will not rest till it finished me said to me, “This is your chance. Go now.”
And so I ran out the door and across the road till I got to where my brother was getting water. The maid had gone and so I rushed to get mine. The moment I had filled my little Jerry can I made to run back home but my brother said, “No, don’t go anywhere, wait for me.”
But once again that thing that brought me out against my mom’s instruction wanted to complete its work and so I disregarded what my elder brother said and made to run across the road as I left the compound of “Franca Fashions” on Nnobi Street.
Halfway through the journey across the road after miscalculating the distance from oncoming vehicles I was slammed into by a commercial (danfo) bus. As it hit me and my little 9 year old head smashed the windscreen I got tossed under this bus that dragged me under it for well over 10 meters.
When they had pulled me out from under the bus my green T shirt and shorts were ripped open and blood red. The gash on the side of my head exposed my skull.
There was no way a 9 year old could have survived that. But I did
I was told my brother dropped his Jerry Can and ran home screaming, “My brother is dead. They have killed my brother.”
As I write now and relive those incidents (mine and my mother’s accidents) tears are welling up in my eyes.
I am told that the moment bystanders dragged me out from under the vehicle all I kept saying was “Jesus I don’t want to die”. ”
I kept saying it over and over until I fell into unconsciousness.
I was 9 years old.
Anyway, my mom heard the unintelligible things my brother said in his delirious state and after looking for me in the sitting room where I was meant to be with my siblings she saw I wasn’t there and so ran out into the street…just in time to see them dragging my bloodied body out from under the danfo.
She collapsed on the road fainting immediately.
(to be continued)