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Monday, December 7, 2009

Escaping death by a whisker

He had just been online with his love and was looking forward to great things to come. And then an accident happened, shaking those dreams violently, Dennis D. Muhumuza writes.

Mande was left alone in the office chatting away online with the girl of his dreams. He had not quite forgiven himself that Berna had flown to Amsterdam for her post-graduate studies before he had mustered courage to ask her out on a date.

“I miss gonja,” she moaned, “here ‘tis bread lunch, bread dinner, bread, bread and more bread.” He could feel her frustration and homesickness. And on that quiet and lonesome evening, Mande comforted Berna by steering their chat to romance.

He left the office at 9:16pm.

Mande was lost in the thoughts of Berna and the things she had told him when the taxi moved. I love you Berna. I’ll put a ring on your finger the day you return.

Mande smiled and all his fears were gone.

Somewhere along the way, something snapped. Suddenly the taxi hopped roughly off the road, coughing sharply and making daredevil twists before it came to a shaky halt back in the centre of the road.

By now it was all smoggy inside, and freaky howls had erupted like the voices of the crowd in a lake of fire.
“Jesus, Jesus,” women shouted at the top of their voices. It was pandemonium as the travellers struggled to evade death through the windows of the now crumpled taxi.

A man bleeding profusely through the nose could not stop asking in the most impatient and frightening voice for his phone.

Mande was left alone in the darkness of the accursed taxi; rooted to his seat like a statue of an idiot.
He vomited and held his head tightly, afraid that the terrible migraine pounding him would split it open and splatter his brains on the floor of the taxi.

His left eye blinded him with pain, twitching and struggling to jump out of its socket. Bits of Timothy Wangusa’s poem, A Taxi-Driver on his Death, came to him. He too saw himself as another victim of the metallic monsters we call taxis, his bones being picked by strangers with gloved hands, no Berna there to shed tears for him.

Fear gripped him. Was he caught up in a trap of death from which there was no escape?  Mande screamed and tried to stand up but felt drained like an old man under the influence of alcohol.

He had read and heard about men and women who found succour in death (otherwise why would they commit suicide) but Mande was not ready to take a trip to the great beyond. 

Not even death could thwart his future plans with the girl of his dreams. This confidence reenergised Mande. With great effort, he crawled out of the taxi and dialled a friend’s number.

He got the small details of the cause of the accident the following day. The unlucky taxi had been knocked from behind by a small car on Acacia Avenue, just opposite World of Lights building, from Kamwokya. The driver of the small car had died on the spot and most of those in the taxi escaped with grave injuries.

Mande sighed and returned to the sanctuary of his beddings, grateful for his narrow escape from the vicious hand of death. For a fortnight after that tragic Monday evening, creepy images of demons dodging pitfalls in the middle of roads and sucking the blood of men tormented Mande’s sleep until he rededicated his life to the Lord Jesus.

Berna has professed her undying love. And Mande lives and lets live in the assurance that when his time eventually comes he will not go to the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

--Sunday Monitor, May 31, 2009