Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Day Juke was Torn to Pieces

It’s a day I wouldn’t necessarily remember the most, but certainly a chapter in my life’s journey that I would forget the least. It’s neither the jubilant day I was born nor the triumphant day that I finished my degree. It’s the day I almost went to meet my maker but turned out to be the moment I would witness something I have never believed in - a miracle.  It’s just a handful of seconds essentially and irrelevant on its own, but I’d blatantly say it’s the longest and most horrific split seconds that would forever haunt and remind me that life doesn’t really belong to us. It’s a borrowed gift and before it’s too late – make the most out of it.

That day was a year ago – morning rush-hour, I was driving on the outer lane of a busy highway like a typical day, 90kph on the meter, crooning to some random music playing on a local radio while sight still largely focused on the road and occasionally looking at the rearview mirror to see the cars from behind. Being a neophyte driver, I am mostly defensive so I stay away from the highways as much as possible and the trouble careless and stupid drivers could bring which is quite a ubiquity in Dubai. Halfway through my destination, I heard a thundering sound from far behind and even before I could confirm in the mirror what it was, a speeding van has slammed into my car, hitting the back’s left corner. What happened next was reminiscent of those action scenes from the Fast & Furious movies, as when goons chase the good guys. The crash’s immense impact bumped me off my lane, spinning the car four times while still accelerating and traversing to the innermost lane. The car stopped within few centimeters away from the island barrier fence; thanks to an astonishing instinct that came from nowhere, a thin whisper in the air that told me pull the hand brake up. The story ended abruptly, I was saved! It was nothing short of a perfectly executed movie scene done in a single take, no director, no script and no special effects.

They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death. During those few seconds that I was going through the ordeal, I just didn’t feel like losing the weight of a chocolate bar, there was a complete absence of gravity. As I turned 360 degrees several times, I could see cars around moving so swiftly to the left and right, breaking, screeching and trying to avoid a collision. Everything was happening in slow motion. I could see the minute details of the cars and the drivers’ faces. I could see my coffee sprinkling like water on the green garden and my hair flipping like those in  infamous shampoo adverts. My life from beginning flashed back before my eyes. My thoughts dawned on my family and to be honest, lastly to God. I asked Him to keep me safe.  I surrendered. It happened. It was the longest 10 seconds of my life. It’s harrowing, yet in that same instant I knew I wasn’t alone. Someone was watching. Other motorists stopped and rushed to my side to check up on me. Someone gave me water. Somebody told me to sit on the grass. Others suggested I should go to the ambulance and get checked. One lady told me I was so good in driving to have cheated such a likely life grabbing situation. My faith in humanity was restored. I was unscathed, at least physically.

I met the days after the accident with zest of sharing my story and made it appeared like a walk in a park. The reality that I emerged in one piece didn’t make it looked grave at all.  The absurdity to be funny albeit the fatal experience has taken away the chance for people to lend their sympathy. Positivity has utterly erased any mark of that nightmarish event. But deep inside, I was tormented. Beyond the humor and the cheerful character, I was nursing a wounded heartWhenever I had to lay me down, the vivid images of the accident kept joining me for company, without solicitation. I had unease going to sleep. Whenever I was on the road, be in on public commute or riding in a friend’s car, the sight and sound of speeding vehicles was triggering a paranoia and deep sense of anxiety.  For a couple of weeks, I tried to conceal the fear with laughter. Always saying it’s all water under bridge. But it wasn’t. It was like dark fluffy clouds following me wherever I would go, a wrinkle of memory that’s constantly reminding me of the day I walked away dry from this tumultuous fleeting storm

The countless “what-ifs” and “what-could-have-been” were staple subject of my idle mind in many occasions. Sometimes I would stare into the blank wall and I would imagine how the worlds of people close to me would have been had I perished from that accident. I wondered if anyone would be sorry for losing a jolly or rather be happy for missing a bully. Oftentimes I smiled but at times I couldn’t help as tear fell and kissed my cheeks. Not I that see myself to matter much to many, but to my family, workplace, and circle of friends, guess it could have been sad moment apart from devastating. How many lives do we have to live before we realize the essence of being alive? How many loved ones do we have to see go before we appreciate their kindness or for just being themselves? When do we tell someone we love them or say sorry to people we have wrong to? Worse timing is when we’re already down six feet under. So while we have the breath and strength to do it, waste no time and serve the purpose of our lips, mind and heart.

I have never felt lucky in my life - never have won in any sort of raffle or bet games or been able to land the jobs of my dream but instead always falling short of fulfilling things that I wanted people to know me for. I used to envy the successes of other people and always thinking how lucky they were for getting what they wanted; discrediting the efforts and hard work they might have invested to get to where they are. But this incident has spun my mindset around in a good way. I may not be at all lucky in some ways but I am completely blessed. And being blessed doesn’t need you not to appreciate what you have simply because you do not have what others posses. Life in itself is a blessing no other things could equal. You can’t trade a chance of second life for any quantifiable things in this world. It’s more than having the things that make you happy, but knowing someone is guiding you and living the life you’ve been given with deep sense of purpose and gratitude. To end this story, I am selling my beloved Juke to get a new one. I will for sure remember all the days that we’ve shared together, the day I received it and most specially the day it was torn to pieces, the same day I would not want to think as the day I almost lost my life, but the day I got a second.


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