Monday, May 04, 2015

Sine qua non

Reader’s discretion: Strong Language and Violence

Paxa  Rainne slams her open palm on the car horn frustrated.

Another matatu has overlapped and cut her off just as she was to join the highway. Driving into town from Ngara is still a nightmare, despite a spanking new superhighway. Rainne wonders if her naivety in being polite to other road users is a magnet for this menace.

Rainne has been in traffic now for over an hour and has hardly moved ten metres, giving way to dozens of other vehicles but not getting any reciprocation. She wriggles her bare toes, driving shoeless in these conditions is more comfortable.  She takes comfort in that small luxury. The lotion she applied on her feet earlier is keeping them nice and cool.

The conductor of the matatu swings wildly from the door as it narrowly misses Rainne’s front bumper.

“Siste, huku ni Nairobi, jikakamue”!

She glares at him and he returns a lewd look, seemingly excited at the fact that he’s unnerved her.

She’s tired of this. No more Ms. Nice Girl, she also needs to get moving.

The car blocking her entry moves a few feet a head and she sees her chance, she guns the engine and her car spurts forward.

It happens so fast.

Rainne’s vision had been blocked by a hawker selling dusters. The minibus had also seen its chance and had come hurtling forward. Its driver saw Rainne at the last minute and veered sharply to the right to avoid hitting her. A Nissan matatu behind the minibus is not as lucky, he was trying to whizz past too.

There is a sickening crash, as metal, glass, flesh and bone collide crumpling the front end of the Nissan against the minibus.

It’s happening barely two metres from Rainne’s car. A blood curdling cry comes from the front of the Nissan. A passenger is trapped, his legs shattered at impact.
More passengers pour out of the Nissan. Bloodied, their clothes shredded, their expressions of shock, but alive.

Rainne is wrenched out of her shock, by another piercing cry.

She grabs her first aid box and jumps out to help. Good Samaritans are trying to assist. They yank and claw at the crumpled metal with their bare hands.
Rainne is fumbling through the kit for her epinephrine pen – a life saver in such situations.

It’s in her hand as she yanks open the driver’s door who tumbles out onto her crashing her to the ground. He’s taking off, running from the scene, using his slight build and long legs to maximum effect. As Rainne struggles to get up when she realizes the driver’s jacket snagged her epinephrine pen. The pen is stuck on his jacket as he runs toward the flyover hoping to make a quick getaway.

Hell No. Rainne is not going to let him get away with the injured passenger’s only hope of not bleeding to death.

She sprints after him, yelling “Shika huyo”

It works and other road users from the opposite side start chasing him.
The driver runs to the edge of the flyover and looks down. It’s about twenty feet, he is desperate, it’s better than being lynched.

He is climbing over the guard rail when Rainne tackles him sending both of them over the rail. At the last second she grabs the pen with one hand and the rail with the other. The driver grabs the only thing he can, Rainne’s bare foot.

Rainne feels like every muscle in her arm is tearing. Her weight and that of the driver are too much. Her hands start slipping, she considers dropping the pen and using both hands to hold up.

Below, oblivious, cars speed past. If she falls it’s over, but her arm is on fire.
She’s just about to let go when two pairs of hand grab each of hers. As she’s hoisted up the driver holding her from below can no longer keep his grip. His hands slide down Rainne’s lotioned feet and he lets out a scream as he falls backwards towards the road.

Rainne is carefully set down and catches her breath. The pen is still tightly gripped in her left hand. She can’t wait, she breaks into a small jog towards the Nissan. An innocent passenger life is at stake.


Later that evening Rainne is visiting her new friend, Njogu at his bedside. The nurses told Rainne that her epinephrine pen saved Njogu’s life. They also said that quick action saved his legs. It will take weeks but he will walk again. Njogu’s wife who had been called from work after the accident tells Rainne that amazingly the errant driver fell into a garbage truck below, and the rotten squishy garbage broke his fall. He will be arraigned in court tomorrow for reckless driving. The police have promised not to let him shower until then.