The T-shirt I was wearing that night.
“I can’t die like this. My mum will be heartbroken, and my house is a mess, and my T-shirt is really sweaty. Oh God Oh God Oh God, I can’t die like this.”
Doesn’t make sense huh? Well, it’s hard to think straight when you are gripping the blade of a knife whose handle is held by a lunatic, and he’s trying to bury it in your body. I’m surprised I even managed to think about anything.
It was a regular Friday night. As I took a little walk from the gym, I thought about my plans for the weekend. I was down to my last 10 000 FCFA, but I wanted to be broke with style – a bottle of white wine, some roasted fish, and movies. I needed to call my mother. I had to find time to pick up my shoes from the cobbler and my skirts from the tailor. I could sleep at 1 am because I only had to be at work at 11 am. Normal random thoughts for a Friday night. I remember that I didn’t flag the taxi, I looked up and there were 3 taxis lined up, so I took the first one in the line. It was 9pm, a busy street – my mind was filled with how many calories I intended to consume and if I could power-walk them off on Saturday – I barely noticed the guy sitting in the back seat.
“Think, think, THINK”. I can’t keep this up much longer. Have you ever been opportuned to look into your body? See your blood in free-flow, come up close and personal with the muscle and sinew and gory bits which are hidden by this most resilient of organs, the skin? It’s an unforgettable experience. And one I wasn’t prepared for.
I remember crying, screaming for help, begging them to take what they wanted, and let me go. I mean, people get mugged everyday, right? So why was my own different? Why wasn’t he looking through my bag? Why hadn’t he seized my phone? Why did he seem excited at the sight of my blood, spattered over the dashboard, leaking down my arm, staining my T-shirt, and whose smell filled the car? WHY WON’T HE STOP STABBING ME?
“I need to get out of here. I’ve got two minutes max, before we hit open highway, where I won’t be able to get help. I need to jump. Don’t think about it. Jump. JUMP! Oh, don’t forget your phone and your bag. That Blackberry cost good money. Erock will be so upset if you lost it.” For the first time in my life, I didn’t second-guess myself. No thinking ‘what if i hit my head/break my spine/get run over by the back tires? etc etc’.
It’s been 2 weeks 2 days since I looked death in the eye, and refused to sit still and let it consume me. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of visits, phone calls and text/facebook/chat messages, emails etc from people who are concerned about my wellbeing, and others who, I suspect, just wanted to be in the know of the juicy details.
When I think about what happened that night, about the men who woke up that morning, sharpened a dagger, rewired their car, and went a-searching for someone to kill; about the car whose headlights I saw reflecting in the rearview mirror, whose driver had to have seen me struggling, heard me screaming for help, but who carefully overtook us and sped away; the guy who drove past me standing along the highway, bleeding and cut up; the taxi driver who stopped on a lonely highway and took me to hospital; my dear ‘grande soeur’ who waited in the hospital outside Emergency for 2 hours while the doctor put over 25 stitches in my body; it amazes me how different people are. How the actions of one person can be a source of so much pain for others. How intertwined our lives are, such that each action we take has untold repercussions and effects on those around us.
As I prepare to go back to work tomorrow after 2 weeks lying in bed, nursing numerous physical and mental wounds, I realise that this has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve gotten a second chance to make it right, to live my life like my Father in Heaven wants me to and make it count for something, to redefine myself, and reevaluate my worth. And even while it might take some time to stop shaking when I think of the events of that night, I’m confident I can do it. After all, I’ve been told that I’m brave, I’m courageous, and I’m too stubborn to even die.
Plus, I wanna go to England in the summer. Can’t travel if I’m afraid of my own shadow now, can I?