By Nellie Odhuno Shani
It’s your worst nightmare!
You never expect it and it always seem to come out from around a corner! Well, what do you know? My experience did not deviate from the norm. Although it happened fourteen years ago, it seems like it happened just yesterday.
Our family had made a major change. We had just moved from Kenya to Zambia two weeks before. I was adjusting to a new country, new house and new school for our three young kids. This was our second week in Lusaka and this particular morning, I just seemed to be running behind on everything. I finally got the kids into the car and off we went. I was beginning to get used to the windy road that led to the kids’ school.
Then I turned a corner and there he was. Smack dab in the middle of the road! I expected him to continue crossing the road, so I slammed on the brakes and swerved to the left towards where the man was walking from. Then the man panicked and started to turn as if to go back to where he had been walking from. That was the direction that I had swerved towards to avoid hitting him, and with my brakes wildly screeching, the left side of the car hit the man and he went flying into the air! I had stopped breathing by then. He came back down and hit the wind screen shattering it (though not breaking it) then rolled off the car, and on to the side of the road! The car continued to move and I stopped about 10 yards from where I had hit him. All this happened so fast that I thought is was just a bad dream!
My body went into shock my right foot started to shake so badly, that looking at it, one would have thought that I was doing it deliberately. I looked into my rear view mirror and saw the man lying on the road. I was sure he was dead. The bag that he had been carrying was still lying in the middle of the road. A small crowd of on-lookers had already surrounded him. I just sat in the car shaking. I did not know what to do. I looked at my five year old and he would not look at me. He stared straight ahead of him. My eyes moved to the other two kids, and it was like something they had practiced. They all looked ahead, their faces emotionless.
Then someone loudly tapped on my window, that was rolled up. I tried to roll down the window, but my hands would not obey me. The man opened my car door. He started talking to me in the local language which I did not understand. “I don’t understand Nyanja” I said, my voice trembling. “Reverse the car and take that man to hospital!” he shouted at me. With my trembling hands, I tried to put the car into reverse. I prayed desperately that God would come to my aid. He did! I finally managed to slowly reverse the car. I stopped it right next to the man on the ground. The people in the crowd were talking to each other animatedly. It did not help that I did not understand a word. I asked my two children who were sitting in the back seat, to come and join their oldest brother in the front. I still do not know how the three of then fitted on one seat. None of them said a word. All three of them just sat there, looking ahead. Too traumatized for words.
I got out of the car and somebody said in English, “It was not her fault. The man walked into the road without looking. I saw it all!” I could have kissed her! When the people realized that I did not understand “Nyanja”, they started to talk to me in English. I saw the man lying on the ground for the first time and I felt my knees buckling up like I was going to collapse! I resolved not to faint! He was a man of about sixty years old. He had a huge gash on the side of his head and a slow but steady stream of blood was flowing from it. He looked at me and I though I would die from guilt! “I have maimed somebody’s grandfather!” I thought to myself.
I did not know the way to the teaching hospital where I was being advised to take the man. No one seemed to believe that there was anybody who did not know the way to the hospital. I explained that I was new to the country and I saw a few sympathetic looks. I zeroed in on one kind looking man. “Could you please come with us?” The man conceded, and two people carried the man and put him in the back seat of my car. They took the small bag of onions that he had been carrying and threw it at his feet in the car.
As I drove into the emergency parking lot of the teaching hospital, I could not believe that my kids and I had just lived through, what we had lived through. As soon as I heard my husband’s voice on the other line, I finally started to cry.
As I look back now, I realize that it was only the presence of the Lord that kept me, and my children, from experiencing something that could have scarred us for life.
The man made a statement to the police that it was his fault.
That could only be the hand of God.
Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author’s websites.