Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Frozen Bells

By Victor Agbo

I don't need you because without you I will still breathe. I will still live my life. I will do all the things I like to do at all times. I will go where I want to whenever I wanted, and I will still be happy. Yes, I really don't need you to survive, neither do you need me to survive. But I want you above any other thing, I really do. I want to share your dreams and I want you to share mine too. I want us to raise a home of our own together.
I know I have my problems and demons I fight daily just like you do, but I wouldn't mind fighting your demons as well and also helping you solve your problems. I wouldn't lie to you, I'm scared. I really am. Sometimes it feels impossible, but I will never know if I never try. So even though I'm scared, I am willing to take a bold step and fight these fears. I really don't care what obstacle might come between us. For you and I will knock them all off. So if your scared too, I want you to boldly take my hand let's walk together, because till my dying day, I never want to leave your side.

Those were the words Ikenna said that melted Nwakaego's heart just before he asked her to marry him. Even if she wanted to delay her response, there was no way she would have been able to do that. He swept her off her feet and she screamed "Yes" just before she fell into his arms. That was two years ago. But their love has grown stronger. They've had their ups and downs like every other couple. But that never changed how they felt about each other. They've kept the promise they made to one other.

On this lovely day however, they were traveling by road from Kaduna State to Ikenna's village at Ngwo, Enugu State for the Christmas Celebration. Ikenna was driving while his beautiful wife Nwakaego was in the passenger seat in front and their first child Sopuruchukwu who was already one year old was in one of those baby carriers that gets strapped to a car seat at the back.

The journey was a bit rough because of bad road and traffic jam at different points. And to make the journey smoother, they took the new road which connects to Enugu town from Nsukka, before they head to Ngwo because the old Road which would make them get to Ngwo straight from 9th Mile was bad.

As they journeyed, at some points, Nwaka had to attend to the varying needs of the baby while they were in motion. So at some intervals, she would go to the back seat to attend to the baby. She had just finished doing so by the time they got to the well known New Market road in Enugu. The baby was fast asleep. They were very close to home. The Joy was uncontrollable. It sparked one of those romantic talks between the two of them. "Christmas Loving" by Victor Agbo was playing on the radio. It was a new song they had fallen in love with so they sang along happily. And by the time they got to "Milky Hill", a curvy road that was carved out of a hill that led to Ngwo, Nwaka decided to return to the front seat.

She took off her seat belt and made her way to the front. Unfortunately for this beautiful couple, a big truck was on its way down the hill on the other lane and had covered a big chunk of the lane that led to the hill top. And because of the curvy nature of the road, the two drivers saw the impending danger quite late. Ikenna tried as much as possible to maneuver a little to the right to avoid a head-on collision with the truck. But he went a little off the road. The car went down into the bushy valley. But because of the big trees that had grown in the area, it was impossible for the car to get down to the base of the valley before it ran into a tree and stopped instantly.

The baby was crying in the back seat. But that did not bother Ikenna because at least, the baby was unhurt, and still strapped to the back seat. But beautiful wife was no where to be found. The impact of the car crashing into a tree had caused her to crash into the windscreen which shattered and allowed her to fall freely down the valley. So Ikenna got out of the car to go find his wife. It was already getting dark but the headlamps of the car had turned on automatically after the collision with the tree. Ikenna yelled her name while he looked around for her as he descended into the valley, leaving the baby alone in the car.

He found her shortly with blood all-over her. He yelled her name as he ran to her and carried her. He checked for a pulse but there was none. He couldn't even feel a heart beat. She was dead. He didn't believe it though. He tried all he could to resuscitate her but nothing worked.

He carried her and was going up towards the road when he saw people coming to help them. The truck driver had stopped and so did the man that was driving directly behind Ikennna.

"Get my baby from the car please." Ikenna cried.

One of the men carried the baby from the car and the man who was driving directly behind Ikenna offered to take them to the hospital. So Ikenna instructed him to drive to Niger Foundation Hospital at Independence Layout, because he believed they would get the best treatment there. He then called his family members to inform them of what had befallen them.

They got to the hospital, but nothing could be done. She was already dead. The doctors there were medical doctors and not magicians. They checked Ikenna and the baby to ensure they were both ok, and they were. Physically of cause, because Ikenna was still having a though time wrapping his head around the fact that his beautiful wife was no more. His family members arrived and the entire hospital was overtaken by the cries of other loved ones.

It was by far Ikenna's worst Christmas Eve ever. All their plans had shattered. The plans for Christmas, the goals they had to achieve, their plans of growing old together. If only she had remained in the back seat, Ikenna thought. If she had not taken off that seat belt. If we didn't have to follow the tradition of always visiting home for Christmas. If we had remained in Kaduna. If...

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