Just one beam of light shot from the left side of the car onto the road. It looked like the car was eating up white lines and small potholes on the road as it moved. The second headlamp got busted in a classic Lagos moment by an okadaman about four months ago, but burial burdens and the financial obligations stifled Akin from replacing it immediately.
The death of his wife and first daughter had caused him to give up on everything. The once beautiful inside of the car was now dirty with the smell of piss and sweat now prominent. Apart from help by the rain, he had not bothered washing the car in months. Akin tapped on the steering wheel with his fingers in the same tempo of the song that played over the radio. This drive home through this route was now his routine, until the end of the term when he would decide on another school for Dare, one closer to the house.
Lost in his thought, Akin drove into a fairly steep pothole at the side of the road where his light was busted. After swerving to avoid the tire at the back from entering the same hole, he stole a quick glance at the back seat. Dare laid there, sweating a little and still sleeping. He wiped his brow and proceeded to change the radio station.
“Daddy, when are we going to meet mummy and Dami?” The thud from the tire entering the pothole must have woken him.
“How was school today? Did your teacher like your model car? Did he get the name? Hondre? For Honda and Dare?” Akin countered. For months, he tried to avoid that question.
“Fine daddy, fine. Can I wind down the window here? I’m sweating.”
“Yes. Don’t take it too down. Remember we can’t pull it out when it gets too inside.” Akin then turned the lever of the window beside him a little.
“Daddy, I don’t think I want to be staying in Ebenezer’s house again.”
Pastor Nnamdi from church had two children, Ebenezer and Daniel. They attended the same school as his children. After the burial, the Pastor’s wife offered to take Dare home from school until Akin was done with work. The day his wife died, the pastor’s wife had gone to take Dare from school and made sure he did his homework. She moved a bed to her sons’ bedroom and told him he was having a sleep over.
“I don’t like them. They don’t like me too. Daniel likes to kick me and he tells lies to everybody.”
“How? What does he say? I will have a talk with his mummy tomorrow”
“Daddy, today Ebenezer and Michael told everybody in school that I don’t have a mummy again. I told them that mummy went with Dami to another home, and they started laughing.”
“Don’t mind them. They are lying. Your mummy has gone home, to another home. By God’s grace one day we will see your mummy and Dami.”
“Daddy, don’t lie. I know mummy is not coming back.”
“No, one day we will be with your mummy and Dami soon. Very soon!”
“Daddy, don’t lie to me! I know you’re lying!” Dare shouted!
“Stop this. You are disturbing me. We will talk about this when we get home.” Akin snapped back. This whole time, he was looking at his son at the backseat of the car.
“Daddy! Look!” Dare yelled from his seat pulling out a piece of the seat belt and clenching it tightly.
There was a loud crash and the car flipped about three times until an electricity pole stopped it just on its tracks. Akin didn’t notice the truck that was parked by the side of the road. He tried to make a last ditch effort to evade the back of the truck, but the car spun instead.
“Daddy, I’m sorry.” Dare said in a hushed tone. A piece of glass from the window beside him had lodged in his throat and distorted his voice. Blood was sipping from there to his white tee shirt.
“It’s okay. Are you fine? Can you feel your arms and legs? I’m sorry Dare. What have I done?” Akin began to cry almost immediately.
“Help! Help! Help!” Akin began to scream. He couldn’t feel his legs, and he couldn’t drag himself from the car to get to his son.
“Daddy, I can see them. I’m sorry I shouted at you. Mummy and Dami are here. I’m going home with them. Are you coming?” That was the last thing Dare ever said.
Post image by Ben Ledbetter, Architect via Flickr
About the Author:
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a Yoruba writer that hopes to tell stories about fabled utopias with grapefruit and lemonade and the beauty that is Africa. His work has been previously featured on Arts and Africa.