It was a Monday just like any other manic Monday when I set out early for work before the sun was out. This was the only way to avoid getting caught up in the usual traffic jams I became accustomed to in Lagos city. At about 5.45am Ojota bus stop was already buzzing with activity; there were traffic wardens guiding cars turning out of Kudirat Abiola road and entering into Ikorodu road, there were law enforcement officers targeting public transport buses that were often obstructing traffic in the course of picking up or dropping off passengers, and there was a swarm of pedestrians crossing between cars just trying to get from A to B. You could hear bus conductors shouting out their respective destinations and competitively beckoning oncoming bypassers to jump onboard. You could also hear what sounded like a skipping record every 5 seconds: ‘Shaaaaaj kaaaaad…..Shaaaaaj kaaaaad…..’ This distant cry was coming from a woman selling mobile phone top-up or recharge cards. I was standing in a long queue to buy a ticket for the bigger and more luxurious buses heading towards Lagos Island where I worked. Some
of us in the queue whom I believe had taken showers at home before the trek were already soaked. The young man in front of me must have walked thrice the distance I did, judging by the translucent sweat patches evident on the back of his white long-sleeve shirt. At least he was queuing quietly. The woman queuing behind me however may as well have had a megaphone stuck in my ear for good measure. I suspect she must have been talking to her overprotective partner whom she was giving minute by minute updates.There were about eight people in front of me and right at the end was the ticket seller who had creatively tied his mobile phone to his head and used the flashlight utility to be able to see what he was doing.
Whilst waiting patiently for my turn I suddenly perceived a putrid smell and soon discovered it was coming from a garbage disposal truck which had parked close to the bus stop to pick up refuse bags. The truck had completely blocked one lane on Kudirat Abiola road so the car behind it started to blare his horn repeatedly.
‘Ooooh, where you dey go? Ah!’ said the sweaty man in front of me.
‘Because you get car…Fly if you won fly!’. It was as if the driver heard him because he swerved into available lane on his left but seconds later he probably wished he hadn’t.
‘SWEET JESUS!‘, the woman behind me exclaimed.’Baby, there’s just been a terrible accident o!’.
There was no doubt about it. The driver was never aware of the cyclist racing down the lane from behind. The loud bang that ensued could have been likened to two metal trash cans being knocked against each other. The impact sent the cyclist flying head
first into the air before hitting the tarred road with a thud. The spokes of the half-mangled bicycle were still spinning. For a split second it was as if Time stood still.The next thing I saw could only be described as complete pandemonium.
‘HAAAAAAAAAY!’shouted the Shaaaaj kaaaaad lady who was crying a different tune. This was just one of a multitude of vocal reactions from people nearby but as I looked around
the scene I observed some onlookers shaking their heads slowly, some covering their mouths, and some taking pictures with their mobile phones. The nearby traffic wardens and law enforcement officers approached the seemingly lifeless cyclist while one of the garbage men pointed and shouted at the reckless driver in a threatening manner. All the while the driver hands were no longer on the steering wheel but on his head as he pondered his fate. One of the officers gestured for the fast-gathering crowd to keep a reasonable distance. I couldn’t see any movement from the victim but judging by the way he fell, and the fact that he wasn’t wearing a helmet, the odds were not in his favour. Another one of the officers proceeded to make a mobile phone call, possibly to call an ambulance to take the cyclist away for better attention. It was now time for me to board and I felt this sense of guilt for leaving the scene like I didn’t care how he would turn out. As the bus started to drive into the main road I said a quiet prayer for his speedy recovery and thanked God for sparing me all this while.
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