Monday, 20 June 2011

Thought Picnic: Seconds from rag-doll demise

Longing for short bridges

It could be a busy road and I rarely go jay-walking if I can help it. I would most likely walk up to the traffic lights or seek a zebra-crossing.

Even if I know I have right-of-way I would probably wait to see the whites of the eyes of approaching drivers of vehicles with an acknowledgement of my intent before I cross.

I still remember vividly crossing under the bridge of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos under the Isolo overpass where the pedestrian crossing added almost a kilometre to what was just a 150 metre perilous dash. All the builders of that bridge had to do was attach two staircases on either side of the expressway, but that kind of thinking would have been too radical. See A road runs through it.

Seconds from ragdoll demise

A few days before the War Against Indiscipline Corps instituted by the Buhari regime had caught me crossing “illegally” and I had to do a 20-minute frog-jump punishment amongst other culprits.

So, this morning, seeing I was in a rush and the corps members are not around, I made for the usual dash across a road that allows speeds well over 100 kilometres an hour, I heard shouts and screams, maybe warnings but was oblivious of the fact that they were meant for me as a vehicle whizzed past the front of me seconds before I became a ragdoll of an accident causality leading to a preventable fatality before I saw my twentieth year.

I do not think I realised my close shave with death until days or maybe weeks afterwards when the whole episode played back like a movie in slow-motion but a sixth sense, premonition or foreboding had taken hold that I never ever made that dash ever again.

Sight and right

One other handicap I did not realise I had was a lazy eye coupled with astigmatism which could have been corrected in childhood which meant I could not reasonably judge distance and approaching speed, it made me crap at tennis because I just never could judge where the ball would be, that knowledge now is an active determinant in how I cross roads.

So, as I got to this crossing a tall police van with all lights flashing but no sirens blaring drove up the wrong way and parked just in front of the traffic lights that pedestrians need to determine when to cross the road. Those lights even serve a greater importance to those who cannot make it across the road in a timely fashion in a city with the most impatient of drivers.

I waved and remonstrated to the policeman driver who wondered what my problem was, so I shouted out to him, “You are blocking the lights and the way for pedestrians to cross the road.” At first, he wanted to ignore my protest but I waved even more frantically to the lights on my side, the fact I wanted to cross and well my cane had a statement of its own too.

Insistence and persistence pays

He eventually got my message and moved his vehicle out of the illegally parked section he was in to another place where he would have also complied with parking laws. The police are there to facilitate upholding the law not break them with impunity, in my humble opinion.

Thanking him, I crossed the road thinking I had rediscovered that latent spark of that Akin I once knew would insist on things being just the way they were supposed to be. Maybe there is a chance that this rediscovery will permeate other parts of my expression that seem to be suffering from a loss of confidence, esteem and status – I really do need to find myself again.

Meanwhile, a letter arrived for my first appointment for therapy which I should have had from the moment I was diagnosed with cancer some 21 months ago – I have crazy ideas I still want to execute in whatever is left of my sometimes quite exciting life of experiences and somewhat bizarre tales.

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