HOW PEOPLE DIE: I SAW THE COLOUR OF DEATH YESTERDAY (TRUE LIFE STORY)
IT was at Yaba, at about 2:57pm yesterday, Tuesday, the 9th of August, 2016. I was with a lady friend of mine whom we had left for the place together. She had a different business for going and when she had fulfilled her purpose, we drifted together to my own business, which was solely to get a valuable wristwatch of mine repaired.
As an economist, I call the zone a “perfect market” because it consists of a number of wrist watch repairers only, clustered together just adjacent the Yaba railway crossing.
I had a Bluetooth audio piece in one of my ears, hung on the left ear to be precise; though I wasn’t listening to anything from it. I had acted a gentle man (I’m one anyway) by allowing the lady sit on the only vacant stool available at the repair place. I stood all the time while the chronometer specialist put the finish touches on my wristwatch, tactfully searching for very scarce tiny screws to bolt the cover of my timepiece.
He eventually ended his ultimate search and handed back to me “my precious” (in Golum’s whispers). I was so relieved because my leg had ached of eternal lingering while hiding it from my lady friend, who I was giving the impression of nobility. I paid him the fee and hastened to leave the environment that perhaps, my aching appendages may be soothed while it stretched as I walk.
Honestly, I moved away by few steps and I never knew I was on the railroad and I halted and looked back at the lady who was smiling at me and trying to make humour by throwing a tantrum of… “are you going to leave without me?”…
Prior to this time, I was unaware that the railroad which also has vehicle route, crossing along its path had been closed, in the expectation of an approaching train and everybody had halted, vehicles and pedestrians, all!
As I bumped into the road, the moment I stopped and looked back at the lady, by God, things turned dark, like I was wearing a tinted spectacle, and it was like I was in a trance. All movements to me appeared in slow motions and my ears suddenly went deaf. All I saw was a dark sight of the man who repaired my wristwatch, with his mouth moving and his wrist dangling to and fro on his stretched hands with a frowned face. I was puzzled and looked at my lady friend and she too, her smiles had turned into a face of horror and I also saw her moving her lips and clapping her hands rapidly but I couldn’t get what anyone was saying. All I did was stretch the palms of my hands out in a gesture of “what is happening? “…
All of a sudden and I’m really being honest, I just felt a kind of hand pull, swiftly pulling me out of the railroad and immediately, a train passed by! It was then everything had cleared up. The brightness was restored and my ears healed. All I was hearing was screams of people in Yoruba language exclaiming ; “aaaah! Yeeeeh! You want to kill yourself! Remove that earpiece! Are you mentally ill!…” I heard more and more of that from people who had lined up along the rail with their eyes set on me like I was freak at that moment.
My lady friend was there and she had her hands covering her mouth and cheeks, with shivering hands and legs in shock and clouds of tears in her eyes just shaking her head and saying “Dré, Dré, alhamdulillah “… While the repair man was complaining bitterly.
I was embarrassed and told the lady to let us move from the vicinity with a” pretence smile” on my face after I had also repeated the same saying “alhamdulillah” (praise be to God) severally. Myself, at that moment couldn’t explain what happened as she was asking “what happened to you?”, while we moved to board a UNILAG shuttle back to campus.
It was then, while in the shuttle, I started to analyse and finally realised what had really happened. This was what really happened…
1. The little building by the the repair place blocked my sight from seeing my right, the direction with to which the train approached and the blocked path as I walked into the railroad.
2. I was unconscious of the fact that the train was repeatedly horning and vibrating with its movement (as a normal train would do), while I halted and turned back at the spot. It was these sounds that deafened my hearing and yet, my mind was away from what was making the woofs as I was only trying to communicate with my friend.
3. That everything suddenly went dark was as a result of the train, coming from the direction of where the sun was situated momentarily above, and thus, it’s (the train) height had blocked the sun rays and casted a shadow at its own frontage where I was.
4. I don’t know what you believe in but what I strongly accept is the fact that God had saved me by my guardian angel as appointed, for it wasn’t my time time to die.
Now, how do people die?
Do you realise that everyone was cowardly enough at the scene not to even make an attempt to come and pull me away from the railroad? That’s awful! No heroes among them. I pardon my lady friend and other ladies in the scene who is naturally a female counterpart and could only scream out of fear and shock… But what about others? Was that how I should have died? Rather, they serviced me with their screams and worsened my situation of unconsciousness and confusion.
At times, we experience emergent situations and due to extreme fear, while we would have easily saved the situation, we just stand there and shout for nothing instead of taking physical actions and become heroes. Not keeping calm in situations of emergency can worsen the case and heighten the calamities while the day would have been relatively easy to save. That reminded me of the bravery of the young man who made attempt to save the late Oluchi (may her soul rest in peace), who had an 11kv electric wire dropped on her, while others were just watching, shouting and crying (as reported by eye witnesses). Though, certainty took its course.
We must learn to keep calm in emergencies and think quickly of what to do to eradicate first, the adversity before complaints or exclamations which raises an hullabaloo of confusion.
GOD was my only hero yesterday when I saw the colour of death and deafened by its roars. Be an hero when you experience similar, like I’ve made up my mind. The only way to ascertain this is to learn how to be calm, thoughtful and resourceful in similar situations.
Chiwuzo Alexandre Owolabi (Dré)
University of Lagos
Faculty of Education
Economics Education (400l)