I insulted an old man today.

It’s not in my character. My mama raised me better, but there, I did it.

In my defence, I did not know he was an elderly man before I insulted him – and you can read this to mean it would have been okay if he was young lol. Weak defence maybe, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here’s what happened: I am on Eko Bridge in Lagos, heading towards the Island. I’m on the lane closest to the edge, moving fast enough, minding my business. Then the car in the lane next to mine decides it’s time to switch lanes. He’s drifting so close that in a quick second I imagine the impact, how badly the side of my car will be dented and whether I’d fall off the bridge. I get that sinking feeling in my tummy that comes with fear fuelled by adrenaline. I’m honking like a maniac, and once he corrects himself and we are side by side, I reflexively ‘give him five’. My eyes meet his and I see he’s older than my daddy, dressed humbly with an elderly lady who may be his Iyawo sitting beside him. I immediately feel like crap, and I should. All he did was try to switch lanes without looking in his mirrors – and maybe cause an accident – and next thing someone is disrespecting him on what should have been a cool Sunday evening. Please if your uncle got insulted on Eko Bridge around 6pm on Sunday evening by one youngish looking boyish girl with short hair and blue glasses, tell him I said I’m sorry.

For the next few minutes, while processing my shame, I fell that I need to do some sort of penance. I wish I could find him and apologise. I decid that to make up for it, I’d go for a week without cursing at anyone on the road – not even under my breath. Or maybe 21 days, considering how long they say it takes to form a habit. Hopefully, if I can go without mouthing off for that long in spite of the madness on Lagos roads, I’d be done with road rage forever. With my plan finalised, I get to my destination without incident.

On the return leg of my trip, however, I was not so lucky.

The mind is a powerful thing. While driving back, it crosses my mind to make sure I’m not out of airtime so I can call a friend in case I have an accident. Thankfully I’m not. I decide not to take the Apongbon route cos I recently read about a spot that bursts tyres, and the unfriendly boys there. I opt for Third Mainland Bridge as it seems like the less dodgy option at this point. Driving down Kingsway road, I flirt with the idea of grabbing some Glover Court suya and masa, but quickly decide it’s wiser to ignore my longathroat and get home as soon as I can as the day is far spent. Again I’m going on my way, minding my business, heading towards 3MB when some guy in a car I wish I had noted its plates, drives like a maniac to catch up with another driver. In what looks like a special level of road insanity, he stops abruptly. Slowing down, I will him to carry his wahala and go, and then it happens.

The impact sends me forward, and my car comes to a halt at an awkward angle right at the concrete barricade. Apparently the guy behind me did not realise there was a need for him to slow down, and he rams right into the back of my car. In a few seconds, the cause of the accident speeds off. Thankfully the position of my seat protects me from whiplash – another thought I’ve nursed recently. After a minute of just sitting in my car and wondering what the hell just happened, I come out to assess the damage. The six male occupants of the other car as also standing by the side of the road. Their car is worse off – significantly squashed with with dark oil running across the road. In the middle of the madness, a guy across the road screams from the dark that we can catch the main culprit ahead, as he has stopped again – apparently to continue his fight. The other driver breaks into a run to go get him and when one of his passengers stupidly asks me if I was on the phone, I quietly head back into my car and lock my doors. I try my car, it doesn’t start and I’m at a loss for what to do. I call my friend whose house is closest to the spot to come rescue me. After some more damage inspection, picture snapping and some tinkering under the hood, my car starts and I’m able to move it to allow the other car move out of the way. Motorists slow down to gawk. Some bellow their consolation. Others sing ‘you don hit my car’. In trying to figure out what to do, the other driver suggests we may ‘just have to beg ourselves’. Soon enough my help comes. My friend arrives, takes charge of the situation. We get what we need to process insurance, and safely leave the scene, leaving the other driver with a car that wouldn’t start.

I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was my punishment for being rude to Papa earlier. But I had repented from my wrongdoing, yes? And if I have been punished, do I still do penance? Have I atoned for my sin? Can I continue cursing bad drivers now? Just kidding. I know God is more merciful than that. LOL. Still I wondered – maybe I shouldn’t have taken this route; maybe I should have gone to buy that suya. That way I wouldn’t have been on the road with the culprit at that time. Maybe this, maybe that.

The most annoying bit of all this is that the cause of the entire thing got away. So again, please if you know some guy who was acting a fool and driving like a proper idiot on the road beside Osborne Foreshore Estate in Ikoyi leading up to Third Mainland Bridge around 8:30 pm on Sunday night, tell him he owes two people for the damage to their cars, and if he continues to drive drunk – whether drunk with alcohol or with anger, one day one day (repeated deliberately), he will ‘jam the one that pass his power.’

(And to my friend who helped me – Thank you!)

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17 thoughts on “Penance

  1. Makes perfect sense. I feel your pain. I went through a few near misses myself on Sunday. The day u want to drive in peace and imagine that only sane drivers actually come out as all the crazy ones are resting for the week, you go and meet the only one that decided to come out for a ride that evening. lol… Sorry about your car. My own policy on the road is that I am the only sane one on the road, so drive defensively, protecting yourself from all the maniacs and you’ll be fine. It works for me…

    • We are absolutely on the same page! You are so right re crazy drivers. I’m definitely going to be that person driving like a paranoid 98 year old lady, extremely careful so I avoid all the maniacs as much as I can. Thanks Mrs A.

  2. Without meaning to be a jerk, let me just say that throughout the second part of this story, I was actually looking forward to the part where the cause of the accident was caught. I swear, I’d have gone looking for a time machine just to go back and be there. Unfortunately, that part never came.
    Back to the future; sorry oh! Hope car is not so bad? I’ve seen driver this morning and she looks great. With regards to the 1st part, well…. lets just say the penance is still on. Moral of the story is always follow your suya instincts. They never lie!

    • LOOOL! I do have broken lights, a broken exhaust, dents, scratches, the whole works. The car’s out of commission for a few days but hopefully it should be back as new soon. Thanks for the compliment too 🙂 And I’m definitely listening to my suya instincts now. Hopefully i’d listen to my gym instincts just as often too!

  3. Pele love, God will deliver us from the insanity that is called driving in nigeria. Hope your car doesn’t need body work.

  4. Lmao!
    Sami you are a case.
    5-fingers at somebodys father…Lmao

    Seems sunday was one of those days “the accident demon came out”
    One crazy lady almost killed me and 3 other people-and she had the effontery to catwalk from her car and be making silly phone calls- no apologies nothing.

    Thank God for a developed society, elsewhere they would have so lynched her..
    Moving on, you seem to have a lot of carventures oh.

    Thank God you weren’t hurt and there was minimal drama.
    Again you are the only normal person on the road, every other person is MAD!

    Nice post in b/w

    • Oh dear! Thank God you’re fine too. I guess we should step up our ‘cabashing before driving out’ p. Lol. Maybe it’s a sign that it’s time to upgrade to choppers. Thanks babe.

  5. Some people’s grandfathers should get off the wheel, actually. People have been killed because a Papa didn’t see clearly (or saw a duck turn to his second wife’s face along Ore road/Lagos-Ibadan/Lafia bypass). ‘He is so fit at 73 ,still drives to church and back’ should be cause for worry at FRSC office. Check presbyopia in the dictionary, and see global statistics on road traffic accident- related deaths. Or check Reader’s Digest for a thousand mothers’ stories on burying a child killed in a car crash. And you will see that Baba owes God the penance, not you. Abeg. Anyway drive jejely or take BRT♡ All Grannies go for eye checkup:)

  6. I soo feel ur pain….i should write about how i saved up big to “bake” my car just 2 months ago….and it’s back to the way it was cos of this mad lagos driving. Lol

    • I can totally relate! After I got my car painted, each time someone came close I had my heart in my mouth. It didn’t take long for a ‘danfo’ to undo all the freshness. Driving a ‘scratchless’ car in these parts is almost a burden. Lol

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