(Photo Credit: 123rf.com)
It’s my thinking that very few people will love to intentionally drive in heavy rain with thunder claps everywhere, unless in the event of an emergency where one will naturally dare the elements against all odds to either save a life, property, or food from getting burnt on the gas cooker.
So it was natural to think we were all of the same mind as I travelled with other passengers in a commuter bus on a sunny afternoon from the south-south region of Nigeria to the eastern part of the country. We were actually in the rainy season, but it has been sunny all morning into the early afternoon when we departed the bus station.
The weather was pretty hot, but the breeze coming through the open windows as we drove on, helped to ease the tension within the bus just a little bit. However, traffic in some busy areas as we crossed through the city made the heat unbearable.
We eventually crossed the city beyond the interstate boundaries heading east. The environment around us changed a bit. We were greeted with beautiful scenery of green vegetation all around us. Though the roads were a bit bad in some areas, and the driver a little over excited as his driving suggested, the green scenery helped us cope with the gallop situation.
So you couldn’t actually blame anyone in the bus for briefly dozing off when we eventually met good tarmac. The weather seemed to cooperate as it dimmed a little bit, casting a cool look. Presently, the clouds started gathering together in unison. You wouldn’t believe it was blazing hot just five minutes earlier.
Then the rains came on us out of the clouds. Torrential it was. The wind shield and window glasses became foggy. Most of the passengers had already shifted their sleeping gears to a deeper level.
But the driver was as unrelenting in the rains as he had been on the gallop roads. More than twice, a concerned passenger had asked him to take it easy. The driver was an elderly man. One would by default expect him to be wiser in situations like these. Maybe he was of the impression that he had all the driving experience in the world and was too old to listen to these young passengers of his. He obviously knew better than everyone in the bus.
Now, at no time has a careless driver irrespective of age, in a rainy condition on a fairly bad road in the middle of nowhere, been a healthy combination of logistic resources any day.
Then it happened. In the middle of a seemingly good road, the driver hit a fairly deep pool of stationary water, and immediately lost balance and started struggling with the steering wheels. The scary sound the impact made as it continued to skid through the pool woke even the deepest sleeper in the bus.
All of a sudden everyone was in panic and simultaneously began shouting and calling on the powers they believed in for safety. There was a brief moment of confusion inside the bus. The girl sitting next to me held my arms on impulse ever so tightly, trying to gain some balance. Everyone held their breath, watching like in a slow motion movie as the driver struggled for balance. It was a terrifying experience.
Then all of a sudden, we were out of the pool and out of danger. Everyone exhaled hot held-up breath. There was a certain sense of relief and uncertain calm in the bus. The rain was drizzling now. You can imagine that though the driver was an elderly man, he didn’t hear the last of it from his young futuristic passengers all through the rest of the journey.
I discretely observed the faces of the passengers as we drove on. There was a certain listlessness in their eyes. The effect of the shocking experience was still there. It seemed they all shrunk into their seats looking at the beautiful green environment outside without actually seeing it. One thing will be predominant on their minds. Reaching their destinations safely.
I gave a final sigh of relief when I eventually alighted from the bus at my destination, thanking God for journey mercies. Ironically, the weather here was warm and slightly sunny.
As I walked home, I heard the distant rumbling sound of thunder. I looked up and saw the clouds begin to gather. I smiled to myself and said within my heart; I will rather enjoy this particular phase of impending rain indoors. I promise.
Ndifreke Efiok Akpan.