Everyone in the crowd was relaying their own version or rendition of the incident. Whether real or imagined. I figured there was a need to blame someone or something. There was no empathy in sight. Everybody just wanted a talking point and a momentary fame the tragedy could offer, even at the expense of the victims. The many job comforters could not even wait till I was gone to start apportioning blames: “E Pele. You could have…” However, my stern, expressionless face curbed a lot of empty excesses.
The driver of the Range Rover Sports must have been inundated with blames and faults. The sorry sight, mouth agape, color loss, and confused fidgeting gave him away until he apologized unreservedly on behalf of the driver. Obviously, he wasn’t. She was. It was at that moment I realized the beautiful, pretty shaken up damsel in tears was the culprit. She was the most beautiful distraction of the day with an impeccable vital statistics of Vanessa William’s anterior and Jennifer Lopez’s posterior combined, in their hey days. As if under a spell, my grimace spontaneously transformed onto a grin, and I found myself assuring her I was unscathed and it wasn’t her misdoing the crash happened.
The lady, possibly in her late 20’s, felt I needed medical attention which I vehemently declined with an ego of a self – made millionaire. Even her appeal at monetary compensation didn’t sit with me. She moved closer and held me by my arms, trying to ascertain whether I’ve not been hiding ugly details. I assured her further nothing was amiss. And it wasn’t until then she let go her agitations. Perhaps, realizing no harm was incurred was the reason for the hug or the realization that she hadn’t killed or injured anyone. Maybe, her ebullient nature, I couldn’t say for sure. But I sure knew what I felt. And it’s a secret. I might not have been led by angel Gabriel to the heavenly mansion. But this angelic being certainly stretchered me back to the beauty of human vanity. My face beamed with smiles and hope to the disappointment of many bystanders who would have taken either of the options offered. I got on my bike with renewed strength and the daunting reality of being on the clock. Somehow, deep down inside, I laughed at myself. Would I have taken such a stance if the culprit were a man? It’s not a lie that it’s a man’s world. The truth is: Women rule!
Away from the crowd and frenzy, I scubaed away. I couldn’t hide it what the traumatic experience must have registered. For I rode with more caution and carefulness of a sixty-two year old. No Jay riding through commuters, or carefree over speeding on the highway or sharp-speed cornering on circular roads. The Lance Armstrong in me must have been temporarily castrated.
Truly, we need not visit a madhouse to find disordered minds. Our planet, indeed, is a mental institution of the universe. The unspoken, or the quiet hostility between drivers and riders remains cold war in contemporary times. It ingloriously underlines the vast chasm between the haves and the have- nots. Behind most road rages and violence is intolerance, arrogance and ignorance. Many but by no means all drivers see Okada riders as traffic nuisance, dregs, vandals and road unworthy. Okada riders, on the other hand, perceive drivers as unreasonable, high handed and road greedy. The real argument is riders’ maneuvers in gridlock flouting traffic rules while drivers remain stuck. This infuriate most drivers because they can’t, unlike the Okada riders, break the rules.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we already are a class- conscious society. Ostentatious show- off and conspicuous consumption have become a way of life. From education to housing to dining and association, we seek people of our class or higher at the top of the food chain. Most estates and gardens in Lagos Island and Lekki bespeak enormous wealth. We have more exotic cars packed in most garages than those plying the roads. Yet, it is a country branded as poverty capital of the world.
I stood by the main entrance of the estate. My uniform must have given me up a minion, as I got looked down upon by most residents, who trouped in and out eyeing me or any unfamiliar face with disdain and suspicion. It was the only confirmation I need to ascertain the fact that truly, the poor, anywhere in the world, are second – class citizens. The estate was not stranger–friendly, and so are the private security guards. It took them several minutes to confirm my appointment with the recipient, and sometimes left me unattended to by incessant phone chatting, possibly with a new catch as he giggled to himself not minding whose ox was gored.
For a moment, I felt I could have been treated differently if I were a celebrity, politician or maybe, just rich. I felt inadequate and I knew I didn’t fit in there. Well, the man that I am made me crave for an upgrade. What a manifest of human tendencies in me. All humans are created equal in one respect only:” in our desire to be unequal”
…to be continued