White lights and static in my ears. I look outside my window and people are running towards my vehicle. They’re screaming but I cannot hear a word they’re saying. My driver is bleeding, his foot is stuck and he is writhing in pain. The doors are jammed and so getting out of the vehicle seems to be impossible making it seem like a death trap. When I came out this morning, I did not think I would be in a crashed vehicle with an injury and a cab driver whose life I would help save. For now I am helpless… I am all alone. No, this is not a dream…
I live in a city where a lot of people come and go as fast as light. Workers, students, hawkers, businessmen, children and of course the homeless. These faceless elements jumbled all up together make it impossible to see that these are just singular individuals with real issues and stories just like you,.. plus to them you are also faceless as you walk past them on the street about your own business. Truth is, its not that people don’t care, they just have their own issues that do not readily involve others so it seems like they alienate people outside that sphere.
I love what I do especially because of the fact that I have enough quiet time to work the creative angle. I’m hardly out there in the heat of things and I’m very okay with it. Here’s what happened when I took an extra look into another person’s life that made me think again about my choices in life and my dealings with people.
I had a presentation recently at a school and so I had to go way across town to get it done. I hired a cab since my car had an electrical issue. We spoke very little to each other as it was a simple transaction really; ‘pick me up and drive the car’. Even when he grumbled about the traffic situation, the ongoing strike or the government all in trying to make some conversation, I would only look up briefly from my work documents and manage to crack a smile or nod my head. While I knew he was just trying to enjoy this long ride, I really wasn’t in ‘talk mode’.
We had a hard time locating my venue so he dropped me off somewhere in the area saying he wanted to fix his tyre. I met him up after finding the place and I had made my presentation. He was almost done with his car repair so I didn’t have to wait long. We journeyed back into town as soon as they were done.
The highway can be a very dangerous place especially with all its speeding vehicles, suicidal road crossers and crazy road rages which drivers sometimes get into. We were also on the highway when suddenly a tyre on a trailer some cars in front of us had a fault. The trailer driver instinctively braked and all hell let loose! The cars behind all spilled to the left and right, crashing out while we ran straight into the trailer carriage.
In that short moment which felt like hours, I saw that life is simply a stage. We come on, play our part and we exit said stage. The trick behind it is in knowing your role and how well you play it. Some people get applause and are celebrated, while others get booed off the stage. Here I was in a crashed up taxi, pain in my already damaged neck, presentation documents scattered everywhere but of course I wasn’t even thinking about all that now. People came to our aid and tried to help us out of the car. I broke the driver’s back rest, helped free his leg which was stuck and pulled him out the back door as his door was crashed shut. When he and I were safely out of the car and the trailer driver was making arrangements to take the driver to a hospital, the driver and I spoke for a bit.
Since he couldn’t walk, was bleeding and was in shock, I thought it best to talk to him and calm him down while the trailer driver made some calls. He said his name is ‘Segun’ and he had left his pregnant wife in Lagos to come make some money in Port Harcourt. She didn’t even know he was running a taxi business. He said he was a graduate of Unilag and that Lagos wasn’t working out well for him so he came to Port Harcourt seeking greener pastures. As he narrated what to me was a very sad story of a struggling man in his late thirties, his voice trailed off into the noise in my head. I thought to myself, ‘I’m not married, I’m not lying to my wife, I’m not struggling and I definitely am not the owner of a crashed cab with injuries that have hurt my physical body talk less of what might be internal injuries in my damaged leg…yes I have my own issues but this man was worse off! Why do I think my case is the worse? Why do I take life for granted this way?’
I suddenly felt lonely as I heard my new friend Segun lie through his teeth as he spoke to his wife on the phone. Women in their funny emotional connections to the men they love though! She had suddenly called him to ask how work was and if he was ok. Apparently she didn’t believe him because he kept saying ‘I’m fine’ over and again. I had texted a ‘close friend’ telling her I had just gotten in an accident and was hurt but since I had had no reply, I thought to myself, ‘Where are my friends? I wondered who would have missed me if this accident was worse and I had passed on. What if I was in a really bad state and needed support? Had I played my role well on this stage called life?’.
Segun interrupted my thoughts by handing me the phone to speak to his wife. She was crying when I put the phone to my ear. He pleaded, ‘Please tell her I’m fine sir’…I said ‘Hello ma. Your bobo is fine and all is well. He’s a good man and I’m sure he will come and see you soon with lots of gifts.’ I too had to errr…omit pointing out the details of our present situation to the worried pregnant lady just so she would calm down. I doubt she and her baby would have rested easy if she could see what was going on over at our end of the phone. I made some jokes and got the lady laughing again when the trailer driver got another vehicle to take Segun to a clinic. I took his number and said I would call him again soon.
I left the scene and took a bus home (no more cabs! Lol). In the bus, my ‘close friend’ whom I had sent a message when I was in shock just after the accident happened sent me a reply…’Sorry bout that…so when do I see you so you can help me fix my PC?’ I was speechless….life though…