Sunday, 18 April 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010: Si Deus Pro Nobis Quis Contra Nos?

In the early hours of Friday, April 9, 2010, I had a near fatal experience. I was involved in a ghastly bike accident that left me in a shock for few minutes and set in motion series of events that culminated in the sharing of this experience with you. I had a fraudulent reason for leaving work that day by 7am on the dot. In fact, I lied to my line manager that I needed to meet up with my GP appointment in thirty minutes. The truth is that I had an appointment with my GP but it was supposed to be on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. The implication is that I told lie in order to leave work earlier to attend to other personal pressing issues. My plan was to get from Chelsea to Walworth within thirty minutes and to do that I had to up the ante of my speed. Upping the ante of my speed on this particular day does not necessarily mean that I was biking furiously; in fact I was still within a reasonable speed limit. I was doing something around 20 miles per hour and that is actually my normal speed.

To get back home to Walworth from Chelsea, I had to take my normal route. This route which is about 8 miles usually takes me about 25 minutes on the average to cover and the meaning is that I do 18 miles every working day. This is what the journey looks like; I begin from Walworth to Elephant and Castle and from there to Lambeth North Station, St. Thomas Hospital, the Big Ben, the West Minster Abbey and Cathedral and then to the Victoria Station. From the Victoria Station, I would head to Belgravia and from there to Chelsea. To go home, I had to do the same thing again. It was exactly what I was doing on that fateful day. In fact, I never prepared for this moment for I am not only a professional biker but also a very careful one; only that on this fateful day I was not using my crash helmet. In fact, I hated it with passion and cannot think of having used one in the last 5 years. The event of that day taught me a bitter lesson especially on the need for crash helmet every time one is biking and I must confess that I learnt my lesson. I couldn’t have been so stupid not to have known the importance of one. I admit I was being stupid, naive and reckless with my life but all the same am grateful that my life is spared.

Anyway, as I was riding back home on that day, everything was normal as usual; just like every other day. I had my iPod and was listening to various tunes. By the way, I have got about 10,000 songs in my iPod and the songs help me a lot in concentrating and covering those 18 miles. Meanwhile, as a biker, you should be aware of dangerous places that you must exercise extra caution to navigate. Every biker has his and I have mine too. Personally, the junctions of Elephant and Castle and that of the Big Ben are two monsters I have to avoid everyday to get to work and to get back home. Between the two evils the lesser one is that of Elephant and Castle. The junction of the Big Ben is a monster in the sense that a biker heading towards the West Minster Bridge from either the Trafalgar Square or Victoria is in a deep trouble; akin to being in between Scylla and Charybdis. There is no provision to give a pride of place to the biker. In fact you have to struggle for the same high road with both motorists and motor bikes and that was exactly what I was doing that day that could have led to the end of my life.

As I was coming from the Victoria direction towards the West Minster Bridge, I was on a high speed; in fact you have to be otherwise other road users would knock you off the road. And under a blink of an eye, just out of nowhere, this guy with a high powered bike-those types that make hiuge annoying noise-came out of a space between two big London buses just by my left side and knocked me off the road. He was trying to change into my lane but never thought a biker would be on that lane at that point in time. It was a spur of the moment decision and he could not have seen in that condition. Even if he sees me, he would not have done anything because it was too late. The only and best option would be to knock me out of the road to avoid being hit by the double decker London bus behind him. And that was exactly what he did and I was miserably left somersaulting in the air and ended up hitting the other side of the road with the back of my head. I was more than lucky because if the oncoming bendy bus driver was not fully alert to apply his brake, he would have simply crushed me like a tomato. But thank goodness that I escaped that ugly fate.

Hitting my head on that road was not a joke. It was terribly bad and hurt like the most painful thing in life. For a brief moment, my brain was just like a tabula rasa. It was virtually left with nothing and I could not have known my name or age at that point in time. However, as luck would have it, I regained my consciousness within couple of minutes and rushed to the guy on the motor bike to make sure he is fine too. He was and I was happy that none of us lost our lives even though as expected I was the only one left with some injuries. I had a small cut at the back of my head which was bleeding and that was exactly where it hit the road and then some bruises by the left side of my thigh. The other guy as I noted was fine except little damage to the chassis of his motor bike. The greater impact of the whole accident was borne by my poor bicycle. The impact of the crash on the back wheel bent it beyond repair. That was really painful for I just replaced that wheel and I love that bike to bits.

The impact of the accident on my head could have been minimised or completely avoided if I had my crash helmet on. In fact the health workers in the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas Hospital where I rushed to ensure there is no injury to my skull made me understand that not many people’s brain are spared like mine was in this type of accident. They were chagrined that at my age and level of exposure and intelligence, I could still be riding a bike in the United Kingdom without a crash helmet. Frankly, I was ashamed that such an incident took place and the fact that it took place without my crash helmet made me to bury my head in shame. How can a writer who wants to change the world with his writing not be wearing a crash helmet while cycling? I am not unaware of the fact that an old English adage says that charity begins at home and if that is true why then did my own charity refused to begin at home? I am very ashamed of myself and cannot forgive myself so soon and easily for this gross lack of judgement, stupidity and being silly as a silly stupid cunt.

Honestly, I think I should consider myself very lucky and should be in the church now with praises and thanksgiving. If the accident had occurred at least a mile from where it happened, I would have be drowned because it happened just near the West Minster Bridge and I could have easily somersaulted into the River Thames and got drowned. I have never swum before. Even my luck where it happened still baffles me. I was thrown off from one side of the road to the other and in fact in front of an approaching bendy bus and if not for the alertness of the driver whom I was told applied his brake suddenly, I would have been crushed like a tomatoes.

It is therefore with a heart filled with joy that I remain grateful to those who made it possible for me to survive this ordeal that day. The motor biker should be thanked for not killing me. The London bus driver should be praised for being on alert and being cautious to notice my somersaulting body and applying the brake of his life that saved my own life. How about those fine gentlemen working with the West Minster Underground Station? They are angels. They took me as one of theirs and gave me the First Aid before I rushed myself to the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas. In fact their kindness is beyond what humans can give. I do not even know their names; one black and another white guy. The white guy is such a living angel that he showed concern to the highest level by accepting to safely lock my bike in their locker room till I am fit enough to collect it back. I remain ever grateful to them and even to the bus driver who agreed to carry me and my bike despite the fact that it is not allowed. I thank him very much for making use of his good judgement, common sense and situation ethics to arrive at that wise decision. Most of them do not actually use their common senses most times. It is therefore a thing of joy to see a bus driver putting his common sense into use. Same gratitude must also go to the staff at the Accident and Emergency of St. Thomas Hospital. It used to be called Guy and St. Thomas Hospital. I was surprised to notice that on that day the Guy is gone. Anyway, I thank them from the deepest part of my heart. They are amazing especially the young white nurse that called me naughty for not using my crash helmet. It was very funny when she called me naughty because I busted into laughter and what made me to laugh was the way she shaped her mouth to say that; just like a dominatrix in a sadomasochistic orgy.

I am also not forgetting the doctor who examined me. She is young and black but I completely forgot her name for I was too preoccupied with admiring the fact that a young person like her is in such a position. Finally, I thank God for this second chance. If God is for us, who can be against us?

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