“Hey. Wake up,” shouting voices.
“He is still breathing”. A collective sigh.
“And it wasn’t too long ago. The engine is still running”
I want to respond.I have the answers. But some tight force is holding me back.Someone is trying to get me into a seating position. My will is weak. I can feel hands going down, past the elastic band of my riding suit. They connect with my skin. I want to protest. But what the heck. Let me just sleep. It’s easier to sleep. The hands tug at my belt. They go deeper. Someone is going for my pockets. I move my left hand, but my fingers cannot hold. The many voices keep me off sleep. My eyes flutter.
Tell them what they want. They will leave you alone and you can be in peace soon after.
I sit up. I can sense renewed interest as more people surge forward. My new position cuts off progress into my pockets. Some one curses under their breath. I can’t remember where I am or why I am on the ground. Or even why people surround me. I am helped to my feet. I struggle for balance. Someone lifts up the increasingly heavy bike. ” Let’s go”,they call out.
A breath and flutter later I can hazily make out the entrance to Maddu health centre. I live right opposite it. But where are we from then?
“You have a broken arm,”Mr Kalundu announces. “Two bones. And a simple fracture on your femur.
As if on cue,an intense wave of pain washes over me. Now the broken arm explains the failed touch. I see darkness slowly swallow me up. I want to scream.My breath is short. My voice is stuck in my throat.
I hadn’t moved. I swear I hadn’t. That girl was lying. How could I even move, I was on double clutches-actually one pair of clutches under the wrong arm.
Having both left arm and right leg broken and in Plaster of Paris meant I had no balance. Heck I couldn’t even use the communal toilet! Having your whole leg in cast does that to you. You can’t bend to seat, let alone squat. So why she insisted I had moved got me angry.
The doctor found my bone had shifted out of position hence the swelling and excruciating pain.Maybe she feared the doctor would blame her but I was the one in pain here.That and weeks of unchanged sleeping position make you something else. I read every book I could find. I became more conversational-not with the several visitors whose constant greeting is Ngolabye! Eh! Said with grim faces you think they know something you don’t, like you could die any minute.
So I constantly assured them I would make it, really! I had heard no talk of amputation. And it was just a few broken bones. So I learned the art of conversation to steer things quite quickly from my pitiful state, to bigger concerns like world peace and the ozone layer,or mother Thereza’s sainthood. Have you noticed it shines so fiercely these days! I would wonder with so much drama they had to agree. Then I would wheel my chair around in so much thought if their only line of conversation was my bones they would leave soon after, speak to my mother or whoever in my support structure they knew.
Moments like this make you reevaluate your entire life. They make you question God,if only for awhile. Waves of fear grip you regularly. What if I can’t hold again?
What if I lose my leg.Or both leg and arm.
Will I get married? How do I get a job after that?
Every call from work gets your nerves standing on end. If it’s your boss, that Oh My,they are letting me go! I did cause an accident after all.
Probably killed someone.
I revved my Suzuki TX ,strapped on my helmet and checked my tyre pressure again. Those bikes made famous by veterinary assistants I was called musawo.
It was a routine I was used to .The 94 kilometers of rough road awaited me. I had to go fast. Riding after dark was both against the manual and I needed some rest.
I looked my manager through the visor. She had just denied my approval to stay in a guest house nearby. As anybody knew, I would have just gone home. But I didn’t argue. I had done this several times anyway. It’s the reason I had been posted to the farthest project region. I was the youngest on the team,and I didn’t fear speed.The machine obeyed me.
The heat out of the plastic riding suit, the thick sweeter within,and a helmet strapped on tight soon produced a sweating sensation. The humdrum of the gravel and bike tyres pushing forward was all the noise I could hear for a while.I could have dosed off,even if for a second. Till I turned the corner and the only good side of the road had a man,riding his bicycle about 50 metres close.
An impact was eminent. I sharply turned into a brown pond in the road,towards my right. He turned to his left,his rightful side. I turned back to avoid him.All that in few seconds. It was too late.
I can’t remember so much soon after. I woke up two kilometres away,three hours later,a kilometre after my rented project home,headed where,I couldn’t tell.
A theory was reconstructed in the next week or so. My riding glove was found in the morning,it had slipped off my broken arm,next to a broken helmet visor-and a drunken man sleeping peacefully within a pool of vomit . A very loud reek of alcoholic vomit.Even flies kept away.
He was moved to hospital that day. I had received faster care. We would meet later-with a threat of court action,given my NGO working credentials and assumed money,and he,being part of a community we are meant to weed out of poverty. I couldn’t win.
To date,what really happened is hazy,but what is incontestable is that I fell twice,once after impact,only to get up an in a daze -with stone cracked helmet. I rode again-how I cant tell, only to lose consciousness and falling by the way side,heavy bike a top leg, hence the broken femur.
She struggled with the guilt of a denied application to stay. She constantly called.
We grew farther apart with my nurse. I was glad to hop away after a few weeks with my POP bright in the sun and an overgrown beard.
What made the accident worse,from my perspective, is that on closer scrutiny,my permit had expired a few days earlier.
The way things were going, it hit me, I may have to tick more off that list. Each one of us has a list. Things so bad they cannot happen to us? That list.
Lose someone you love.Check.Check.
Have a serious accident.Check.
It seemed like losing a job and going to prison were coming fast.