Metropole Magazine

Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260


Lami Molluma Yakubu was my friend. In 2009, I offered to give her a lift to Kaduna from where she was going to proceed to visit her parents in Zaria. On the way we were rammed into by another car that had lost control. While both cars were damaged, no one was seriously hurt. For a long time we laughed about the faces we all made as the car spun almost endlessly out of control on the highway. 

Shockingly, a few days ago, Lami passed away following a brief illness. She will be buried tomorrow in Abuja. Lami read most of the story below in 2009. She liked it.

It is for her.


Blue is a good color. A happy colour. Not grey. Grey is a dreary colour on account of how it presents itself when bad things happen. When your house is gutted by fire, they say it burnt to ashes, which is ash. When you are dizzy, everything is grey. In dreams, especially bad ones, everything is in grey scale. If something is unclear, they say there are grey areas and when a person is in that natural progression towards certain death, the hair turns grey. As I kept spinning around on the day of my car crash, even though the sky was beautiful and blue, and Lami’s jeans were very blue, all I could see was grey, and I thought to myself, this surely is the end!

I’m taking the bus home; my car is still a wreck and is parked at the metal scrap yard. It has been a couple of years since I took a bus in Kaduna and I am quite uneasy. My palm touches the middle seat as I try to find my way to the back seat. The seat is sticky from what my mind conjures to be sweat and oil and mucus picked out of strange noses. I try not to look into anybody’s face as I ask them to make room for me. I have lost that sense of kinship that exists between people on the lower rungs of society, bonded in unity by their daily struggles- a feeling I had much of only a couple of years ago before I got my second-hand car.

I have barely settled into my seat and the man to my right sneezes violently. The thought of the accompanying spray of saliva makes me want to jump out of the bus. He receives a general “bless you” from the passengers. Instinctively, I suspend breathing until I can no longer hold my breath. Home is still thirty minutes away and I’m not sure which is worse- the sneezing man to my right, the woman screaming in Ebira on the phone to my left, the driver who is playing raucous Yoruba music or the old man in the front who is screaming at the driver not to go too fast.

Graciously, my wandering mind takes over, steering my consciousness away from all the cacophony. I shut my eyes and all that fills my head is the accident I had on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway- the jarring sound of screeching tires and the traumatic jangle of metal smashing into metal. I see the Hausa man - Sokoto-bound- losing control as his rear tire explodes and his car skids right into mine. I hear my heart beat to a bloodcurdling rhythm as everything becomes the colour of death. I see Lami, one hand on my dashboard the other covering her face, anticipating fatality. Lami is surprisingly calm. She does not scream like Maryam who became hysterical in the back seat, screaming my name as we spun around many times in the middle of the highway. I see the man who hit us emerge from the bush on the right where his car flew into, crying, hoping no one was dead or injured. I see him kneel in front of me where I sat on the side of the road, begging.

I think of all the things I had stashed away in secret crevices of the car: the half pack of cigarettes I keep even though I have quit smoking, the three condoms I have but never use. The dead cannot explain and I wonder how many theories would’ve been made upon discovery of these items.

I think of how we laughed on our way after the worst of the crash had passed, how we made fun of Maryam’s hysteria. I had asked Lami why she put her hands over her eyes. ‘Whatever will happen, I cannot stop it. I just don’t want to see it when it happens.’

‘But kai, you were calm o,’ Maryam had commented, referring to my focus in trying to control the car as we spun. If only she knew how many times I screamed inside; how I had already resigned to death.

At my junction, my eyes light up and the grey in the bus begins to fade. I alight, heaving a sigh of relief. My eyes pick up all the happy colours around me. The large multi-coloured umbrellas of the many market women at the junction, the oranges, yams, tomatoes and spinach, the new bright orange uniform of the traffic warden and the blue skies up above.