HeartFelt Reality

ENEMY OF SPEED

You see people who wish to learn things the hard way end up dying early. Cowards live longer. Cliché huh? Maybe I am a coward but not a dare devil. I just like to reason things out. However, I dared someone a week ago on a Saturday night. Regardless of whether I was kidding or not, my ‘dare’ struck a rock that made waters of a life testimony gush out.
Ah! It’s 8pm. Wacha leo nipande ndudhi teke teke hadi kwa hao. I thought.
I had an option to board a matatu, but I was not willing to take an hour to get home that day from the main road.
I walked past a hoard of bodaboda riders, timing for customers like me. They kept calling for my attention. My little ego made me not respond to any of them, saying to myself, “Mwenye anataka customer sana atanikujia pale.”
One short and dark mjango, heavily dressed in a rider’s attire – discerned my little ego – took a leap of faith and ran towards me.
“Brathe, unaenda wapi nikupeleke?” He had a luhya-luo accent.
“Wewe ndo umejua kutafuta customer. Twende! Pesa sio shida. Shida ni muda.”
He coughed his ndudhi’s engine. I hopped on like a pro.
“Mimi najua expert wa ndudhi hunifikisha home na dakika fifteen mwisho! Wacha tuone wewe kama ni expert leo.” I said while giggling sarcastically.
He rode off towards the road.
Hizo dakika ndo unataka?”
Thinking he was falling for it, “Eeh! Ni mingi ama kidogo? Tunaeza punguza zikuwe kumi pia.
Si ata mambo na kuwa mingi ama kidogo…
“Ehee?”
He went silent. I hoped I didn’t sound so demanding or maybe I had threatened him or something. I was just being cool. Besides, I knew I was being realistic. Fifteen minutes was the optimum time to get home with a ndudhi. It was not a big deal but it led to a big testimony. It triggered something I would never forget. Mjango, I was in for a good shock, surprise and life lesson.
Some two minutes later, he spoke.
Mimi naweza kufikisha na izo dakika fifteen. Sio shida.  Lakini naskia ukisema tu ivo ninashangaa. Si ati ukona haraka, ni nyumbani unaenda. “
I was just about to start taking offence. Huyu jamaa ananisomea ama? I thought he was being hysteric. Thank my creator my emotional fabric is quite elastic. I sustained my patience to see where that topic was headed. Normally I’m not one to strike conversations with strangers. Sometimes I like the solace of my mind speaking and answering itself. I had a thought to cut him short like, “Hey ni sawa. I heard you alright. Enda na pace yako basi!” But no, that day I was cool. Nobody had crossed my red line that day. Furthermore, the roasted maize cob I was chewing was hypnotising my spirits real well.
Sikatai kuna watu wanakupelekanga na io dakika kumi na tano. Sasa bahati mbaya kitu itokee katikati? Ju pikipiki na io speed yote mwenye anaendesha akafanya tu mistake kidogoo…” (I vividly remember his accented intonations.)
He continued, “Nyinyi wote mumeisha. Hii si kama gari eti utakanyaga brake na isimame. Pikipiki ukianguka ukiwa kwenye speed…
Ni ivo.” I said in agreement.
Eeeh, unaona?”
Ni ukweli.”
Hakuna wiki huwa inapita kama hatujaona ajali apo Mombasa road.
Wacha?” I was giving in to the conversation. I threw away the bare maize cob. Even as he spoke I kept on looking at my watch out of curiosity. It was in vain since it was dark.
Eeh hujui? Watu huangamia karibu kila wiki wakivuka barabara hapo Mombasa road mahali tumetoka.”
Mara ya mwisho kulikuwa na accident ni lini?”
Hata sahi tumekaa kaa. Sijaskia ajali yoyote. Ukiona ivo ujue tu ni maombi inafanya kazi.”
He mentioned maombi. So he is a believer, I noted that. It’s not a bad thing.
“Eh enyewe.” I was running dry on what to say. Luckily, he had a lot to say. What made him say it all out I really cannot tell, because I don’t know. Maybe because he is a believer, he likes to testify about what the good Lord did for him.
Wacha nikwambie. Uliskia ile ajali ilikuwa Nakuru?”
Lini?”
Hukuskia? Ata si kitambo, imepita sasa kama wiki tatu ivi. Ilitangazwa sana kwa news.
Damn! I had not watched news for dog years. I knew nothing about any deadly or petty accident.
Too bad mjango.
Eeeh ebu niambie kuihusu.”
Io accident ilikuwa kali sana. Na mimi nilikuwa kwa io accident…”
My mouth dropped. I was careful not let him hear me shriek or say, “What tha ***.” I tried to force myself not to believe. I later had all the reasons to believe though. Even the tone in his voice carried some weight of truth.
So his big story began.
Ilianza tu na dereva wawili wa io basi nilikuwa nimepanda kuenda nyumbani. Walikuwa wanabishana ni nani ataenda. Dereva wa kwanza alikuwa anajua njia lakini alisema yeye amechoka, so hataenda. Uyo mwingine akasema hajui io njia sasa ata yeye hawezi enda mahali hajui. Wakabishana hiyvo mbaka uyu mwenye hajui njia akaamua ataendesha bas. Sasa sijui ni io hasira ama ni nini. Unajua nilikuwa nimekaa kando ya dereva apo mbele. Huyo dereva alikuwa anakimbikiza io gari sijui kama nini. Ile speed alikuwa anaenda nayo si ya kuendesha basi ya watu fifty two…
The impending wind swallowed part of his voice. I had to position my head close to his to capture every word leaving his mouth. Nothing was worth missing.
Ilikuwa saa tisa ya usiku. Nakwambia io usiku twenty people walikufa papo hapo.” He said.
“After accident tu ivi…?”
Watu ishirini waliangamia.”
He was oblivious that he had fast forwarded the story.
Sasa accident ilitendeka aje?”
A ndudhi swiftly passed next to us going in the opposite direction.
“Si tukafika Gilgil. Na unajua barabara ya Gilgil akuna ya kando kando.  Magari yanapitana kama vile io pikipiki imetupita. Na pande moja ni mtaro, upande mwingine ni mtaro pia,” he explained that with one hand, using the road we were on as an example.
Kulikuwa na trailer mbele yetu. Na maharaka zake, si akaanza kuiovertake. Mimi bado nimekaa tu hapo naona kila kitu kikitendeka.  Na ju trailer ilikuwa refu sana, hangeweza kuovertake kabisa na kuna trailer ingine pia ilikuwa inakuja…
I could picture the level of fate that must have been. I felt as if I was there, seated next to a driver who was putting my life and the lives of 51 others in jeopardy. His ignorance and pride taking the place of proper calculation and cautiousness. Maybe this mjango tried to tell him to go easy on the road, but he didn’t listen but instead shut him off like, “Nikupee gari uendeshe mwenyewe? Eh? Inaonekana unajua sana!”
He told me that that was the result of the negligence of several previous warnings the driver had received from incidences that could have turned into an accident since their journey begun. So in some way, he had seen it coming. But he is only a mortal man, there wasn’t going to be any escape – especially when he saw their bus in between the merciless impending motion of two trailers. Only the immortal one could save him, maybe not from injury which is recoverable, but from the incurable gangrene of death that infects all forms of mortality.
Only so much can surf through the mind of an individual in the split seconds before metal meets metal. I didn’t dare ask him what he was thinking about in that small bracket of time. Okay I didn’t think about it. I was too mesmerized with the tale of the unfolding fate. But I can take a guess, he was speaking in heavenly language – requesting the Father to receive him when his soul departs his crushed and bloody body in a few seconds to come. Or rather, “Mungu, shuka chini uniokoe na usitumane.”
Maybe before he could say amen, the bus had slightly overtaken the trailer on the left and the forthcoming trailer was just as close. The bus driver swung the wheel to the left in hopes that somehow, the forthcoming trailer would slow down in a manner to allow the bus to fully overtake. However, it was too late mjango. With the head of the bus right in front of the nose of the trailer on the left, the forthcoming trailer drove directly into the body of the bus from the second seat behind the driver – scraping off everything and everyone who was seated on the right side of the bus.
Sisi wenye tulikuwa tumeketi na dereva tulirushwa kwa kichaka.”
Waah! Na unakumbuka chochote after hio accident?”
Nakumbuka tu nikiskia watu wakipiga mayowe na nikaona watu wakikimbia sijui kutoka wapi. Ata sikukuwa najua kile kimetendeka. Ilikuwa mbaya sana. After kitu kama fifteen minutes, ndo watu walianza kuja. Polisi mmoja ndo alifika io saa. Ambulance pia ni moja ilitangulia. Io jam ilikuwa apo ilienda mpaka Nakuru.”
Sasa watu waliokolewa aje?”
Unajua watu hawakuwa wengi. Sasa wale abiria walijiweza, pengine hawakuwa wameumia sana kama mimi na angalau wangeweza kutembea; walipewa gloves na polisi na wakasaidia kuokoa wale walikuwa wamekwama ndani. Kama mtu alikuwa ashaaga unaachana tu na yeye. Apo tafuta mtu ako hai atakama akona majeraha aina gani, anaweza survive. Wengine walikuwa bado huko msituni. Ai! Lakini twenty people waliangamia tu ivo…”
Robert told me some things he saw while helping his fellow passengers after the accident that would be disturbing to some readers if explained here. Not long after, he was taken to hospital and woke up two hours later – this time right in his senses. It seemed to him like he had been dreaming. He had a minor head injury, which I found miraculous considering where he was seated in the bus.
Ndugu mimi nasema tu ni Mungu. Sijui vile niliponea. Vile niko hai hivi, mimi najua si kwa mapenzi yangu. Huko nyumbani watu wakiwaachilia wenzao kuja kufanya kazi Nairobi, ni maombi tu wanafaa kushikilia. Mtu anasafairi kurudi nyumbani lakini anakosa kufika. Ni Mungu tu.”
Eh ni true brathe. Ni God tu. Dere alienda wapi?”
Mimi sijawahi skia mambo ya huyo dereva mpaka wa leo. Lakini hakuaga.”
That story and testimony clamped my heart so tightly. I felt heavy within. I must confess, I have never felt so pity for humanity. It took that kind of a story from someone who experienced the live wire of fate – first hand. I became a deliberate enemy of road speed. I loathe it with all that is within me and you should too mjango.
Ata tushafika. Kwetu ni pale tu.” I said, void of any surplus words. The heaviness within deflated out my speech.
Lakini umenijenga mehn. Umefungua roho na nimelearn manzeh. Nikishuka nataka kukuangalia vizuri nisikusahau.”
Eeh ata mimi nimeshukuru. Tutapatana tu tena. Io yote ata unaeza angalia youtube. News yote iko hapo ata mimi utaniona kwa news za citizen.” He said that as I pocketed to pay him. I found that last statement hilarious; the way he just had to say that he was on TV – truly Kenyan. I liked it.
Nitaangalia. Na unaitwa nani?”
Mimi naitwa Robert Otieno.”
“Robert Otieno. Sawa sawa. Na mimi ni Vick. By the way I’m a journalist. Nikona kamahali kwa internet me huandika articles. I write a lot na sijui kama ni sawa na wewe, I can write about your story?”
Ahaa! Kwanza hio ni mzuri…”
 
 
 

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