Thursday, 20 September 2012
The road home is clear. These twenty kilometres are so familiar it is easy to go into auto-pilot and drift into thoughts only my head can manage. I have had a long day- work, a reading, and dinner with a dear friend.
There is a lot on my mind. On the road I drive through the bends and turns that lead me to the wide Umar Musa Yar'Adua express way. In my head I take the bends and turns that lead me through the maze that is my mind. To painful decisions I must take, long overdue. To thoughts of all the things I planned to do before I turned thirty. To the fact that I turn thirty tomorrow and have done none of them. I try to find my way back to the beginning of things; to discover how I got here, this lonely cold place I cannot recognize.
I am tired. I shake myself awake. My body fights back- it demands rest and it demands it now. Five more minutes, I tell myself, five more minutes until I get home. I reach the express. Some parts are lit, some parts are not. I drift again and in one second it all happens. I run into a curb at one of the points where the road bends suddenly. Instinctively I step on the brakes. It is too late. I lose control of Sylvanus, my old tired car and we are screeching at a 45 degree angle. I hit something else and my head slams into the steering wheel. My head spins and suddenly everything is upside down- my body, Sylvanus and my thoughts. Sylvanus comes to a halt by the side of the road. Upside down, I feel the blood filling up my mouth.
It is fear that actuates my body, makes me ignore the pain and crawl out through the shattered glass. Fear that a fire might break out and I might get trapped in a burning vehicle. I drag myself to the side of the road, my white caftan soaked in blood. I feel open flesh hanging in my mouth. It is 2am. I am cold. Alone. In pain.
Writers who try to describe blood must not have bled like this. Real blood pouring from ones body does not smell metallic. It smells like fear. Like death.
The first car that stops is a green taxi. I am lying on the gravel with my right hand up in the air, calling for help. The taxi reverses, stops and suddenly drives off. I think of crawling back to the car to see if I can find my phone. I am too scared of a fire and too weak. Slowly as I slip in and out of consciousness cars begin to stop and voices begin to multiply.
“Do you know anybody’s number?’ someone asks, from a distance almost as if he is afraid to come close. I shake my head. He is shouting. Everyone seems to be shouting.
“My phone,” I manage to say, “in the car. My phone.”
I am afraid the phone might have flown out of the car during the crash. Someone finds it.
“Your wife, what is her number?” A man assumes I am married. I shake my head. Suggestions fly over my head. My father’s voice, on discovering I was not quite acting like a virgin, plays in my head: “I was not up to your age when I got married.”
A police van stops. They do not come close. They make radio calls that have nothing to do with an ambulance or first aid. I know at this point I must do something or bleed out in front of passers-by arguing about what to do.
“Call Achile,” I say to the man holding my phone, spitting out a glob of blood. I try to get up. They all scream at me to lie back down. They try Achile. He is asleep. They try Al-kasim. He is asleep.
Suddenly I feel like this is it: I am going to die out here alone. My parents are nearly 200kilometers away and the only other relatives who are in this town, are strangers to me.
“Garki hospital!” I call out as the police and others argue. “I have a card in Garki hospital”
Nobody is listening to me and I am fighting to retain consciousness.
After a few minutes, a man who I later will learn is Group Captain Onyike, orders the policemen to stop what they are doing and take me to the Air force Base where he lives and where there is a hospital. I am put at the back of the police van like a ram that has been knocked down by a car. I am handed my phone and they drive off.
I am afraid that I will lose consciousness completely and nobody will know where I am. I manage to send messages to a few people and tweet with the only information I know. That I am at the back of a police truck headed for the Air force hospital near the airport. I pass out.
Group Captain Onyike makes sure I get treatment. I come to and the doctor is able to get a friend, Salisu on the phone.
In the morning, the worst has passed. I am stable. Kasim, Musa and Achile are around and are taking care of things. I open my eyes and I see the dear friend with whom I had dinner last night. I am not sure how she knew or who called her. As much as I did not want her to see me like this, I am grateful that she is here. And I cannot stop my tears from rolling. But for the quick thinking of an air force officer, she might have been the one to tell stories of my last words, my last thoughts, my last feelings.
This is how to survive a road accident in Nigeria: Pray. Pray that someone with quick thinking and hospital contacts runs into you. Do not expect the police to know what to do. Do not expect emergency services. Just pray.
Elnathan John writes here
Sunday, 9 September 2012
The Buddha was sitting under a banyan tree. One day, a furious Brahmin came to him and started abusing him.
The Brahmin thought that Buddha would reciprocate in the same manner, but to his utter surprise, there was not the slightest change in the expression on his face.
Now, the Brahmin became more furious. He hurled more and more abuses at Buddha. However, the Buddha was completely unmoved. Actually there was a look of compassion on his face. Ultimately the Brahmin was tired of abusing him. He asked, “I have been abusing you like anything, but why are you not angry at all ?”
The Buddha calmly replied, “My dear brother, I have not accepted a single abuse from you.”
Looking at his disturbed face, Buddha further explained, “All those
abuses remain with you.”
“It cannot be possible. I have hurled all of them at you,” the Brahmin persisted.
Buddha calmly repeated his reply, “But I have not accepted even a single abuse from you ! Dear brother, suppose you give some coins to somebody,and if he does not accept them, with whom will those coins remain?”
The Brahmin replied, “If I have given the coins and not needed by
someone, then naturally they would remain with me.”
With a meaningful smile on his face, Buddha said, “Now you are right. The same has happened with your abuses. You came here and hurled abuses at me, but I have not accepted a single abuse from you. Hence, all those abuses remain with you only. So there is no reason to be angry with you.”
Monday, 3 September 2012
...The Nigerian god is one. It may have many different manifestations, but it is essentially different sides of the same coin. Sometimes, adherents of the different sides may fight and kill each other. But Nigerians essentially follow the Nigerian god.
This article is for all those who want to become better worshippers. If you are a new or prospective convert, God will bless you for choosing the Nigerian god. This is just how you must worship him.
First, you must understand that being a worshipper has nothing to do with character, good works or righteousness. So the fact that you choose to open every meeting with multiple prayers does not mean that you intend to do what is right. The opening prayer is important. Nothing can work without it. If you are gathered to discuss how to inflate contracts, begin with an opening prayer or two. If you are gathered to discuss how to rig elections, begin with a prayer. The Nigerian god appreciates communication.
When you sneak away from your wife to call your girlfriend in the bathroom, and she asks if you will come this weekend, you must say—in addition to “Yes”—“By God’s grace” or “God willing”. It doesn’t matter the language you use. Just add it. The Nigerian god likes to be consulted before you do anything, including a trip to Obudu to see your lover.
When worshipping the Nigerian god, be loud. No, the Nigerian god is not hard of hearing. It is just that he appreciates your loud fervour, like he appreciates loud raucous music. The Nigerian god doesn’t care if you have neighbours and neither should you. When you are worshipping in your house, make sure the neighbours can’t sleep. Use loud speakers even if you are only two in the building. Anyone who complains must be evil. God will judge such a person.
Attribute everything to the Nigerian god. So, if you diverted funds from public projects and are able to afford that Phantom, when people say you have a nice car, say, “Na God”. If someone asks what the secret of all your wealth is, say, “God has been good to me”. By this you mean the Nigerian god who gave you the uncommon wisdom to re-appropriate public funds.
Consult the Nigerian god when you don’t feel like working. The Nigerian god understands that we live in a harsh climate where it is hard to do any real work. So, if you have no clue how to be in charge and things start collapsing, ask people to pray to God and ask for his intervention.
The Nigerian god loves elections and politics. When you have bribed people to get the Party nomination, used thugs to steal and stuff ballot boxes, intimidated people into either sitting at home or voting for you, lied about everything from your assets to your age, and you eventually, (through God’s grace), win the elections, you must begin by declaring that your success is the wish of God and that the other candidate should accept this will of God. It is not your fault whom the Nigerian god chooses to reward with political success. How can mere mortals complain?
The Nigerian god does not tolerate disrespect. If someone insults your religion, you must look for anyone like them and kill them. Doesn’t matter what you use—sticks, machetes, grenade launchers, IED’s, AK47’s.
The Nigerian god performs signs and wonders. He does everything from cure HIV to High BP. And the Nigerian god is creative: he can teach a person who was born blind the difference between blue and green when the man of god asks, and he can teach a person born deaf instant English. As a worshipper you must let him deliver you because every case of sickness is caused by evil demons and not infections. Every case of barrenness is caused by witches and has no scientific explanation. So instead of hospital, visit agents of the Nigerian god. But the Nigerian god does not cure corruption. Do not attempt to mock him.
If you worship the Nigerian god, you are under no obligation to be nice or kind to people who are not worshippers. They deserve no courtesy.
The Nigerian god is also online. As a worshipper, you are not obliged to be good or decent on Facebook or twitter all week except on Friday and Sunday, both of which the Nigerian god marks as holy. So you may forward obscene photos, insult people, forward lewd jokes on all days except the holy days. On those holy days, whichever applies to you, put up statuses saying how much you are crazy about God.
These days, the Nigerian god also permits tweets and Facebook updates like: "Now in Church" or "This guy in front of me needs to stop dozing" when performing acts of worship.
In all, the Nigerian god is very kind and accommodating. He gives glory and riches and private jets. And if you worship him well, he will immensely bless your hustle.
Culled from the Nigerian Daily Times as written by ELNATHAN JOHN