As I picked up her rosary beads to pray, tears came to my eyes. The tiny brownish beads felt strange and hard on my fingers. I had not prayed the rosary in years. I wasn’t even sure I could still remember the prayers correctly. I was not the praying type. But I was now determined to try. The little girl had been very clear when she gave me that one last instruction. It seemed God had given her that last moment of lucidity. I would never be able to forgive myself if I didn’t do as she asked…
I had begun the day full of confidence, without an inkling I would end up here. Being owner and CEO of chains of companies meant you constantly had to be at meetings and seminars on end. This was my life. I lived and loved it. Herbie, my wife had waved at me from the patio as Suleiman my driver drove me out of the compound that early dawn. Herbie was still donned in her nightie and she looked like she would be going right back to bed. Unlike Herbie, I was an early bird. I went to bed early and rose early. Today, I had a 7:00am flight to Abuja, and I left as early as 5:00am. I never joked with time.
We had just left the gate when Suleiman started acting up, or so I thought. He drew the luxurious dark blue SUV to the side of the street, put the car gear on Park, and quickly went out of the vehicle. Before I could ask what the matter was, he was retching noisily into the gutter nearby. I waited about ten seconds before coming out of the car.
“Are you okay?” I asked, as soon as I was standing by Suleiman’s side.
“Yes sir!” He answered. But he didn’t seem fine to me. He was sweating profusely in that morning chill. He bent double again and continued emptying whatever he had inside his abdomen into the gutter.
“What did you eat?” I asked again, when it seemed he was done.
“Oka, I nor know fah. Wallahi! But I nor peel pine Oka. Kai mana!”
“Are you sure?”
“Okay, take me back to the compound and call me another driver.” I glanced at my gold-plated wrist watch. I had already lost close to twenty minutes.
Suleiman looked at me with a pained expression on his face. “Oka, nor vex fah! Na only me dey today. Madam say na jus to dripe go airfort today.”
I rubbed my gradually balding head and straightened out the collars of my navy blue Tuxedo. I had two options – call a cab, or drive myself. I looked at my wrist watch again – forty minutes lost!
“Okay, tell Madam I’ll leave the car at the airport garage. She can send someone to get it later.”
“Yes sir.” Suleiman seemed relieved. He was wiping his mouth and trying to look smart in his chauffeur uniform. I waited for some more seconds before getting into the car and driving off in a rush…
I knocked her over before I saw her. How was I to know there was a child in the middle of the road that early morning? I had been so occupied with the things I had to do as soon as I got to Abuja that I wasn’t really concentrating on the driving…
She couldn’t have been more than twelve. The pain that tugged at my heart was too much to bear. She hadn’t given me any number to call. She hadn’t been able to talk much after the accident. I had driven like a maniac to a private hospital, with the child at the back seat, but it had been too late. Just before they had taken her into the ICU, she had pressed her rosary beads into my hands and looked straight into my eyes, “I forgive you,” she said, in a voice barely audible enough to hear. “Pray the rosary for me. I forgive you…”
Minutes later, she was dead. That was when I called Herbie…
I was later to accept the fact that no one seemed to know the child. We went to media houses and put up announcements, hoping anyone would call with information about the girl. None came. I was completely dazed. It was the strangest day of my life. For the first time in my life, I, Chief Mike Anuforo had a situation I couldn’t handle. Not in my sixty years of existence had I witnessed anything like it. I had completely forgotten about the rosary till later that night when I switched the Cable TV to Chantel Television. The plane I was to take to Abuja had crashed on landing, killing everyone on board.
As Herbie prayed the rosary with me, amidst many tears, I realised that an angel had given her life for mine…
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2017.
N.B: Please note that tomorrow, May 14th, 2020 (Feast of St Matthias), Pope Francis wants everyone of us to fast and pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking before the Regina Coeli on 3 May, Pope Francis said “since prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14 May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Remember: 14 May, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and perform works of charity”.
Our only weapon is PRAYER.
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