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Inexplictus: Latin for that which can not be readily explained, the unexplainable.
There are certain things cannot be explained by logic in this world. In fact, too many things the human mind cannot even begin to comprehend.
- How does an infant who can only crawl on all limbs manage to float in a pond or pool of water till such a time as a saviour happens by?
- How are the planetary bodies able to maintain a fixed distance from the Sun whose magnetic pull should have dragged them into its core long ago?
- How is it that star-watchers and astrologers are able to tell us what is happening light-years away from earth, yet marine scientists are unable to tell us what happens in the deepest depths of the benthic layer of the ocean?
My point is, not everything can be explained by the careful calculation of facts and evidence and the eventual culmination of extenuating circumstances to arrive at a logical conclusion that is, undoubtedly, the probable cause of said phenomenon.
This lengthy preamble is just my way of telling you that the story that follow, while based loosely on true events, is one of those things that logic cannot readily explain.
It started off as a pretty regular day. Late afternoon in November in the ever busy streets of Lagos state are – as one can expect – hot, rowdy, noisy, crowded and tense with all sorts of heated emotions.
The adults moved briskly and purposefully from point A-B with an ever present frown on their brows; a testament of their stressful day now at an end. They walked briskly, dodging other pedestrians that either moved slower than they did or in the opposite direction.
On the roads, the constant honking-tooting-rumbling of the many vehicles that plied the overly busy, albeit narrow, expressways (which was another major source of heat); and the varied calls of the different of the road users filled the air.
“Yaba! Onikpanu!! Paan-grooooove!!!” hollered bus-conductor.
“Yes! Buy your Fan Ice-cream here! Your yoghurts here!” a yoghurt vendor called.
“Sssss!!! Gala! Gala!! Fresh Gala here!!!” a sausage-roll vendor hissed his wares to pedestrians and passengers on the road.
Off the expressways, the streets – while not as much – were quite busy too. Knowledgeable drivers took to residential areas to dodge the traffic jam on the expressways which led to the congestion of the much narrower roads. This did not stop the children from running and playing and screaming in care-free abandon as only innocent hearts can; while the business owners of the shops and stalls that littered the narrow street – further narrowed by parallel parking of vehicles that stretched as far as the street was long – were busy dealing with customers and loading their wares from vehicle to shop and vice-versa.
Yes, it was a very regular day in Ojota, Lagos. The residents were used to the busy life and the carbon-monoxide rich air; they had lived all their lives with the noise of heavy vehicles thundering down the road. Even the lady in her mid-forties who decked herself in the dirtiest rags she could find and covered her hair with a “Yale Crackers biscuit” carton – whom the residents of Coker Street knew to be mad – was as much a part of their daily lives as the epileptic power supply.
A very regular day it was, until it wasn’t.
The first weirdness came in the sound of the peeling tires on asphalt and chasing after it was the angry cry of police sirens piercing the already noisy air. A small police vehicle in pursuit of a ‘danfo’ zipped past the streets. The danfo driver, being knowledgeable of the nature of the streets and knowing which were least likely to be busy at that time of day, took one turn after the next, ignoring the state of the road and leading the police on a speedy tour around the streets of Ojota.
It was not long before screams of rage and fear and excitement filled the air. Cars were scratched, side mirrors were shattered, there were several near hits with all the little children playing on the streets and of course, there were the young boys who rushed out of their homes, hoping to tail the chase to see how the story ends.
The first and only real casualty was the lady in her mid-forties. The danfo swerved just enough to avoid a direct and frontal hit, but that side hit was no less deadly though. The lady took to the air, her paper hat and loose pieces of her raggedy dress flew in every direction as she tumbled and skidded into a nearby gutter that was filled with barely flowing, stinky, black fluid.
The danfo driver did not stop, if anything, he sped up. As if running from the police was not bad enough, a hit and run was not something he wanted on his record. The police, more interested in their “egunje”, chased after the danfo, paying no attention to the mad woman who laid comatose in the gutter.
Amara Ogunleye was spreading laundry on the line to dry in her compound. She could hear the speeding vehicles and the sirens; she could hear the angry screams of the residents who had witnessed the chase. She was not much bothered by these things. Her five year old daughter was indoors doodling with her crayons which meant she had little to worry about.
“I wonder what Daddy would like to eat this evening?” She thought aloud.
‘Daddy’ being an endearing term for her husband who was ten years older than she was.
“Yam and egg sauce?”
“No. Nkechi doesn’t like egg sauce.”
“Daddy will now be complaining of the Igboness of our kitchen”
“So what then… rice?”
“Biko kwa! Rice abughi nri” (Please! Rice is not food)
Amara continued the conversation with herself as the sound of the car chase drifted away from her street and faded into the distance. The excited voices did not fade though, but this was not very strange. The street folk would gather to dissect and analyse the car chase till they could postulate some wise sounding conclusions as to how and why it began and how it would end. This would continue until the truth was made known to the public. In fact, some egotistical men would go as far as to place bets on whose guesstimation would be most correct amongst all the postulations brought forward.
What was strange, however, was the banging on the gate of her modest compound.
“Mama Nkechi!” cried little voices as loud as they could carry.
“MAMA NKECHI!!!” cried Mummy Gbenga, her obese neighbour, “E sare bo!!!”
“Mummy Gbenga… Wetin happen?”
“Just come outside first”, the dark-skinned neighbour replied between pants. Amara opened the gate to see six little kids staring up at her apprehensively, they were Nkechi’s playmates and Mummy Gbenga, they were all sweating. Mummy Gbenga most of all; for her over-weight body to make the run to her compound, Amara felt a sickening sensation in her stomach that was testament of how serious the issue had to be.
“What’s the matter?” Amara was beginning to panic, a sickening feeling began to spread within her gut and without waiting for a response, she turned to the house.
To be continued…