ON MY JOURNEY TO GOD: LEARNING THE LESSONS LIFE SERVED ME (Part 3)
(If you have not read Parts 1 and 2 you will neither understand nor appreciate this installment. Kindly stop now and go read both of them first)
The moment I made impact with that danfo bus I heard the smashing of the windscreen, and at the speed at which it hit me it is completely implausible and beyond the clutch of reason that it did not instantly break my neck.
I was flung under the bus and my T-shirt got stuck in some part of the metal area under the vehicle. Maybe I was fortunate it got caught, because if it didn’t the tyres would have climbed over me and crushed my head. I vividly remember my head was close to one of them.
I imagine what the tyre of a 14 seater danfo bus would have done if it climbed over the head of a 9 year old boy.
Maybe it was a combination of the speed of the danfo and the brakes that obviously failed that dragged me on the rough tar of the road for more than 10 meters.
The moment the vehicle came to a halt I noticed that the passengers were falling over themselves to get out of the bus. I was in intense shock under the vehicle but I could tell the people in it were responding to the flight or fight hormones that were unlocked in them, and in this case the majority of them seemed to want to get away as far as they possibly could.
There were some, maybe passengers, maybe bystanders, who immediately leapt to my rescue.
After they pulled me out from under the bus I looked around and through a mixture of blood in my eyes and delirium in my head I saw human beings lined around the bus all wide eyed and in shock. I noticed a few women around with their hands on their heads wailing at the top of their voices.
Immediately I felt something press hard against the side of my head, as I attempted to turn round to see I noticed a man had pressed a rag hard to the side of my head and a couple others carried me into the same bus as the confused and petrified driver leapt into the seat and zoomed forward while the man that pressed the rag to the side of my head, ostensibly to stop the bleeding, simultaneously barked instructions at the driver telling him where to drive to while speaking gently to me and telling me to relax.
They drove the short journey to Moriah Clinic which was on the other side of Nnobi Street, after Kilo Hotel I think, it was not too far from the barbershop, Uncle Sho’s, where my brothers and I went to get our haircuts.
My mom had fainted and was rushed to the hospital owned by Dr. Tony Didigu. I am not sure what it was called, but they took her there to revive her because they thought I was dead. Dr. Didigu was my father’s friend and he had gotten information about what happened, so he kept my mom as far away from me as he could.
When my dad got back from work he got home to see and hear this palaver. In fact, the househelp that lived with the family to the left of our compound (I can’t remember the family name now but I remember their oldest son was named Donald, and they were from the old Cross River) saw him when he drove in and just said to him “Ugonna don die.” She had witnessed the accident and she just knew I was dead.
To her and to everyone around there couldn’t have been any other outcome…but mercy said no.
The God upstairs wasn’t about to let me go, even though I did not know Him.
Then they told my dad my mom had collapsed and they didn’t know if she was alive or dead.
He drove off immediately to look for me. I must have been halfway, between and betwixt, when my dad walked into the hospital room where I was. He turned round and saw the danfo driver whose bus hit me and I don’t know if anyone had identified him before he lunged towards the guy and grabbed his neck, before anyone could stop him he had already begun to pummel the guy while screaming at him, “you bastard!!” he kept shouting.
They finally got him off the poor chap. But then my dad just spun round and pulled the drip from my arm and lifted me into his arms as blood splattered everywhere from the force of the pull.
As the nurses kept protesting he pushed them aside and carried me straight in his arms to his car.
As soon as we got in there he drove off to LUTH- Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
I remember the first night.
My dad spent the whole night with me. He just sat in a chair beside me, throughout the night. He refused to move even when the nurses and doctors came in.
Between the time he took me to LUTH and when sat on the chair the only time he got away from my bedside was when he went looking for my mom at Didigu’s hospital where they went to revive her.
I cannot recall if he came back to see me with her or if someone else brought her, but I turned around to see my mom kneeling beside me and holding my hand. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and she had her head bowed to one side; all she could do was look at me and while choking whisper “Ugo, I am sorry.”
The moment she said this hot tears began coming down my face where I lay. She had asked me not to go anywhere, but I disobeyed her. I still carry the scars of my disobedience and rebellion.
It wasn’t her that should be saying sorry…it was me.
I cried over the pain I caused my parents and my siblings.
As I type this I recollect all that happened and I am crying profusely. I am trying to type this and I honestly don’t know how it is coming out.
I can’t remember how my mom went back home because I was really tired and was trying to fall asleep. Every time I shut my eyes she would tap me and shake me vigorously because she thought I was about to die. They finally had to get her out so I could sleep; besides my idiocy had already kept my siblings at home away too long from the parents they so badly needed.
My dad stayed back. I would wake up intermittently and see him holding my hand while trying to ward off sleep, and when I would wake I would say to him, “Daddy please don’t leave me”, and he would squeeze my hand and tell me he was going nowhere.
He sat on that chair throughout the night and if he went to ease himself I did not know.
I just knew that my father was right beside me.
You see, my dad lost his father when he was 4 or 5 years old. He was then sent to Lagos to live with a much older cousin while that cousin’s father (my father’s uncle/my grandfather’s eldest brother) took my grandmother to wife after his kid brother’s demise. This was customary in most parts of Igbo land.
My father had almost no dealings with his mom until she died when he was just aged 12.
They took him to Lagos and he had a bitter childhood.
He was terribly maltreated.
One day after he was viciously flogged they mixed grains of rice with lots of sand and then poured the mixture under a bed in a dark room. They forced him under the bed and locked him in the room without food until he had picked all the grains of rice from the sand without the aid of any light.
While he was under that bed at the age of 7 or something he cried bitterly and promised himself his children would never experience what it was like not to have parents.
His cousin sent her kids, who were just a few years younger than my dad, to school but made him hawk bread and “ogi” on the streets of Lagos. It was while hawking that he met some boys playing five-a-side football in their backyard and he joined them.
He would go everyday after that to play with his new friends until one day.
As he dropped his half empty pan on the floor to join in the game the boys’ father came out from the house and hurried his children back inside to do their homework. He then turned and sent my dad away; as the young boy picked his pan to walk away the man called him back and asked, “why are you not at home doing your homework?”
To which my dad replied “I don’t have any home, I don’t have any school, and I don’t have any homework.”
The man beckoned on him, as he came hesitantly towards him he very simply asked, “Why? Why don’t you have any homework?”
My dad replied, “Because there is no one to send me to school.”
After a brief silence the man asked him to come see him the next day.
When my dad returned the man drove him to school and enrolled him instantly on a scholarship.
It turned out that this man (I forget his name) was the Principal of Igbobi College.
This was how my dad became a student of Igbobi College until his graduation. It was the same man that helped him process his scholarship to Austria to read Engineering.
This is a part of my dad’s story and the major reason why he put his children ahead of every other thing.
This is the reason why he would never have been anywhere else but beside me on that night.
(to be continued)