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The little girl in the oversized dress

17 August 2012, 10:23

She was probably not more than 12 years of age, but she will probably not live to see another day after getting knocked down by a speeding vehicle at the Oshodi end of the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

She looked so frail and innocent in her oversized dress, probably passed down to her by an older relation, and I couldn’t help but wonder as I looked out of the window of the vehicle that was conveying me to my day job in FESTAC at the sort of blows she had been dealt with all through her short life by Fate.

As I looked at her almost lifeless body (that was beginning to lose its colour as she took what felt to me like her last breaths) been carried away from the kerb separating the ever-busy lanes of the highway by two kind-hearted gentlemen, who were at the same time doing their best to ensure that the blood from her bruised body did not smear their clothes, I tried to imagine how a few minutes earlier she would have been so full of life oblivious of the impending danger that lay seconds away as she prepared to cross the busy highway.

I tried to picture how she would have looked to her right; towards the Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, about 500-plus metres away, and taken note of the pedestrian bridge, pondering at the amount of energy she would expend in the process of making the tiring journey to Charity bus-stop, climbing the 50-plus steps, then descending another flight of stairs, before walking another 500-plus metres back to her intended target ahead of her on the other side of the highway.

I tried to picture how she would have calculated the distance between herself and the oncoming sea of vehicles, scheming how fast she would need to be in order to get to the barrier in the middle of the highway, climb over it, and then prepare for the final part of crossing the highway.

I then tried to visualize how, after getting to the middle of the highway, she would try to repeat the same process all over again only this time, owing to the early morning traffic rush, this side of the highway was filled with a multitude of vehicles speeding to their respective destinations from her right hand side.

I tried to convince myself that she had successfully crossed this particular part of the highway a lot of times in the past on her own and was confident of doing it one more time, only this time it wasn’t to be.

I then tried to see in my mind’s eye as she stepped onto the highway, and this brought tears to mine, the look in her little brown eyes as she realized she had miscalculated her move and, regardless of how fast she ran, was not going to get away with it this time around.

I thereafter tried to visualize the shock and surprise in the eyes of the driver of the SUV at the sight of the little girl who suddenly emerged out of nowhere onto the highway.

I tried to imagine how he’d have stepped on the breaks and, on discovering that wasn’t going to be enough to stop the SUV from hitting the girl head-on, left the matter in Fate’s hands. Only problem was Fate wasn’t dealing any good hands on this day. Lady Fate had other plans for the driver, as she had for the little girl in the oversized dress.

I then tried to wonder if any of the wailing onlookers surrounding the vehicle as we drove by, was a relation, or just another one of those looking for an opportunity to vent his or her frustration and anger towards society by thrashing the vehicle and, probably setting it and its occupants ablaze.

I thereafter tried to imagine if the little girl, after getting run over, was able to get immediate help from any of these onlookers or the growing number of traffic and regular policemen and women who are to be found in their numbers on this spot doing their best to appear legitimately busy, even though their primary concern remains how much money they can rake in from the commercial vehicles who drop and pick up passengers at the ‘unmarked’ bus-stop.

And as we – myself and the other occupants of the vehicle I was riding in – left the scene and continued on our journey, each time we approached any of the pedestrian bridges that are to be found on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway (precisely at Cele, Ijesha and Sanya bus-stops), and I looked out of the window to see those putting their lives at risk by crossing the highway rather than use these bridges, I couldn’t help but shed another tear for the little girl in the oversized dress.

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