The engine sputtered and stopped all of a sudden. It was almost 7.00 pm. I was not prepared for this. I turned the ignition again but it refused to power up. My colleague who was in the passenger seat asked if she could help with anything. “Let me hit the battery head”. I told her.
I got out of the car, opened the bonnet and hit the battery head. I tried the ignition again, but it still refused to light up. I was confused. This should not be happening on the third mainland bridge. I had heard stories of people who had been robbed at night on the bridge.
I sat in the car for a few minutes thinking of my next line of action. Traffic had slowed and cars passed with occupants gawking at us. A car passed by with about 3 guys in it. “Hey sis, don’t stay in your car. This place is not safe”. One of them said as he rolled down the window. They however, continued on their journey without looking back.
Another car passed by. The window rolled down to reveal another guy telling us to try to get ourselves out of the area. Two ladies and an unresponsive car! How were we supposed to leave here when nobody was willing to help? I removed my work shoes, put them under my seat and retrieved a pair of slippers I had in the car. I carried my portable cassette boombox and my handbag. My colleague looked at me and asked “Where are you going?”
“Home”. I responded.
“Home? What about your car?”
“My life is more important”.
“But the car is not safe”. She said worried.
“You can stay with it”. I answered smiling.
“No oh, I am going with you”. She said as she started packing up her belongings.
Traffic had eased out by this time and cars sped by us. We stood about 10 meters away for the car and flagged down motor bikes (popularly known as okada) but none stopped. After about 10 minutes of waiting, a car which had initially driven past made a reverse towards us. It was a small red two door car and I wondered who was in it. It parked a few meters away and a man came out and walked towards us.
“Yes, how may I help you?” I attacked. This was no time to trust anyone.
He lifted up his hands and said “I only want to help. Two ladies should not be alone on the bridge at this time of the night”.
“Thank you”. I said. I peeped behind him to look at his car and noticed a young boy peering at us from the back seat. I also noticed a lady was in the passenger seat.
“What is wrong with your car?”
“I don’t know. It just stopped and refused to pick up even after hitting the battery head”.
Mr asked that I open the bonnet and hit the battery head again. I turned the ignition, no response still. A towing vehicle passed by and we tried to negotiate with him to tow the car to my friends’ house in Anthony Village. He insisted on collecting fifteen thousand naira for the trip.
“But Anthony is just off the bridge”. I said.
Mr dismissed the towing vehicle, saying we would sort it out ourselves. By this time, I was tired. After a long day at work, I did not need this extra stress. Just then, the lady sitting in the passenger seat spoke up. “Honey, honey, please come into the car. Àwön area boys tí n bò (Area boys are coming). Mr asked that we all hop into his car and wait. Three guys walked past on the bridge divider. They looked at us but continued on their journey. We were about to come out of the car when we saw another guy jogging towards us. Mrs grew hysterical.
“Kò sí n kan tó ma selè” (Nothing will happen). Mr assured Mrs. I also needed that assurance as I had never been in such a situation before.
The area boy got to us and asked, “S’ëfé tow motor yín ni?” (Do you want to tow your car?)
“Béèni a fé tow è ni”. (Yes, we want to tow it).
“Sé ki n lö mú okùn màálù wá fun yín?” (Should I get you a cow’s rope?)
“Ibo lo ti ma rí okùn màálù?” (Where would you get a cow’s rope) Mrs asked.
“S’efé àbí ë ò fé. Abí, è wo ni queshon tí ë wá n bèrè lówó mi?” (Do you want it or not? Or why are you asking me questions?) Area boy gesticulated.
“Má á bínú, a fé”. (Don’t be upset. We want it). Mr answered.
“Sèbí àwa ní à n sun abé biriji ní bè yën” (Ain’t we the ones sleeping under the bridge). He continued pointing to the bottom of the bridge. “Two thousand ní ma gbà l’ówö yín” (You would pay me two thousand naira for it)
“Two thousand ti pòjù nau. Jé ka san one”. (Two thousand is too much, let us pay one).
“Sé ki n ma lö, ó dàbi pé ë ò ní n kan se” (Can I leave? I don’t think you have stuffs to do).
“Óyá lö mu wá”. (Okay, go get it) Mr concluded.
While we sat in the car waiting for area boy, Mr told us that he stopped to help because he had heard so many stories about the particular spot we were. His mother-in-law and a friend of his had been robbed there. He said the place was called “Márosè” (meaning do not waste time). Seeing two ladies standing by a broken down vehicle, he sensed we would be in danger and decided to help out.
After a long wait; in which Mrs had insinuated that area boy had gone to regroup to cause us harm, he eventually came with the cow rope. Mr asked that all ladies stay in the car while he attended to the guy alone. “If anything happens and I tap the car, just drive off”. He said to Mrs. “What?” There was no way I wanted a family to be in danger just because they desired to help me. The only thing I could do at that point was pray. I prayed that the strange Mr risking his life for me and my colleague would be safe. I prayed that area boy would not harm Mr in any way. I prayed that my current ordeal on the third mainland bridge would be over.
Mr asked area boy to get down and tie the rope to both cars while he watched. That done, Mr told area boy he would pay him one thousand naira. Area boy flipped and cursed. I pushed two thousand naira into Mrs hands and begged her to give it to Mr so we could leave. I had had enough for the night. She refused to collect the money but called Mr and asked him to pay off the guy. He listened to the voice of reason and the guy left.
Whew!!! Now we needed to tow my car. Mr asked that I sit in his car with Mrs and son while he would manoeuvre mine with my colleague seated beside him. Mrs got behind the steering and started the car. One move of the car and I realized Mrs was a learner. This was going to be a very long journey. I tried to encourage her during the drive and admonish her on stepping on the brakes. Finally, we get to Anthony after a few stops and starts. Thankfully, my friends lived just off the expressway and Mrs did not have to do a test of driving skills.
I had called my friends earlier and also my hubby and they kept tabs on us all through the journey. The car was parked in front of my friends house and Mr decides to start the ignition. Voila! It started. He asked if I would drive it home. “No way! To Iyana-Ipaja at this time of the night?”. By then, it was about 9.30pm. I was not willing to take the risk.
“Okay, hop in then. We will drop you off where you can get a cab or bus”.
My friends thanked Mr and Mrs for their kind gesture and we proceeded on the journey home.
About 30 minutes into the journey home, Mr and Mrs see a neighbour of theirs stranded. His car had issues as well. Mr and Mrs stop to talk to him regretting they had left the rope still tied to my car and promised to come back with a tow rope from home.
“Who are these couple?” I wondered. My colleague and I are dropped at a convenient bus stop and they insist on giving us fare home. I adamantly refuse to collect it but they insist all the same. My colleague and I board a bus and I pay the fare with the money received from the couple and hand over the balance to my colleague. She needs it more than I do. She works as a security guard.
I arrive home at almost 11.00pm into the waiting arms of my hubby. We call Mr and Mrs to show our appreciation and to inform them that I am safely home. Mr and Mrs had gotten home but were on their way back to the neighbour with a tow rope.
Do such people really exist or had I just had an encounter with angels? I still wonder till date.
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