He could have told this story but nature denied him.
To have an office facing the expressway is a blessing and a curse. The blessings are as abundant as the curses too. Aside from attracting customers and clients on transit, you can see events from a clear view as they happen.
The same way you watch the fight of two drivers is the same way you see a car ram into a building. The same way you watch a Hausa man stab his passenger because of fifty naira is the same way you watch these kids that ride tricycle gang-beat an elderly man for bashing his tricycle by mistake.
This same view visited on Saturday.
The shops/offices, mine inclusive, were built in a way that it faced the road. Passersby can view the content of your shop from the road except you make a skeletal covering. I have two neighbours on both sides. Three of the shops, however, were situated in a different buildings. The only neighbour of which I share the same building sells groceries; pies, chin-chin, snacks and beverages. She is mostly patronized by children.
For the records, she doubles as my landlady. She has children. Four in number. And they possess her traits of being talkative. By the side of her shop is an entrance. An entrance that leads to another house; a face-me-I-face-you type of house. For you who don’t know what that means, it’s a house with numerous rooms facing each other and only demarcated by a narrow passage.
In this building lives a boy. His name is Samuel. I call him Sam. He is the second son of a light-skinned lady who married early. Truth is, I can’t call his mother a woman because she looks like a teenager. The boy is barely two. And he is beginning to mimic every word he comes across.
He’s adorable. Whenever I buy snacks for him, he grins, hands it back and says “open nit.” when I’m done, he breaks a little and says, “Uncle take.” The trait is rare in adults but he possessed it as a kid.
On Saturday, it all came crashing down. The children were on holiday. And they play in front of the shops. Both my neighbour’s and mine. They were eight in number. All seven, elder to Sam. As the seven were busy running around, chanting and jumping, Sam stepped into my place. I carried him and sat on the bench. He was grinning. His signature grin. I asked how he was and he said fine. It was atrocious to buy biscuits for only him when there were seven around but I did.
I was in the business of tearing the biscuit when a call came through my phone. It was a customer. He needed some delivery. Done with stuffing the goods into my bag, I tapped Sam’s head, patted his shoulders and left the shop.
I stood at the road, waiting to cross when I felt a tap; something like a twig on my lap. I glanced down and saw Sam.
“Ha!” came my scream. How did he get down from the stool? How did he manoeuvre his way to me? I suppressed the thoughts but they kept coming. Had it being I was on the express when he trailed me, an on-rushing vehicle could have knocked him out.
I carried him to his mother, I intended to narrate what happened but met her absence. The two women I met said she ran some errands. What sort of mother leaves her child unmonitored? I couldn’t take him to where I was going so I pleaded with the women to keep an eye on him. They refused. They said they weren’t modern age nanny. And besides, they weren’t cut out for nursing someone’s else’s child. For the records these women were mothers. I left him in their care and zoomed off.
When I returned, the sun was relaxing. The children were ambling, singing children and cartoon songs. A few were playing the hide and seek game. Sam was outside, again. He either didn’t notice or chose to ignore my presence.
As I sat, turning a blind eye to the happenings around and reaching for my inner thoughts.
It happened. All in a flash. Eniola walked past our shop and crossed the expressway in quick steps. Eniola is the daughter of one of the women I left Sam with, earlier. She is ten. And Sam knew her. As she reached the concrete block dividing the road. She stood and waited to cross the last lane.
I glanced up. And saw Sam at the edge of the road. He was walking into the tarred part without a care of anything. Three cars were coming at a fast pace. A child, I can’t tell if it was his brother, screamed “Heyyy!” but the scream hastened his steps. I was standing, gesticulating and calling Jesus. But it would seem my shouts were a little too late. Sam stepped into the tarred road and the first car sped past him.
Assuming he had walked into the first car, the worst that could have happened would be his head hitting a moving vehicle with him falling back. But it wasn’t to be because he walked in just in time for the second vehicle to hit him. His cries rang out once and the next we heard was splatters of flesh and blood.
When my hands circled my head. His intestines were out in the open and his skull shattered into a whitish fluid. Nausea crawled up my throat. I threw up. Never have I witnessed such a grotesque scene in my life.
Screams rang out. First from children then adults. The vehicle stopped a few metres away. The driver, a woman alighted. She wanted to know what she climbed. And when she did see what she crushed, she fell on her knees and wept. No one accosted. So shocked were we that we stared in unbelief. Sam of a second ago has become a muddle of gore. I spat again as women increase the volumes of their cries. Mama Eniola and her second were crying too. I became agitated. What hypocrisy! I bared my mind, it was easy because I was angry and shocked.
Just then as if mothers instinct kicked in. Sam’s mother ran into the scene asking of him. The words were heavy so we pointed to what was remaining of his corpse. Her screams were deafening but Sam couldn’t hear or see her despair.
I hope you have the same nightmare I had.
© Stephen Toochi