Did you ever watch that series titled “Touched by an angel ”?
I can barely remember what it was about, though I remember the faces of the black older woman and the white younger woman very clearly. Now, I don’t know why I thought about this programme so randomly this Saturday morning – I tend to have random thoughts lying in my bed in the wee hours of the morning – anyway, I was thinking about angels and how I’m sure they exist among us. And I’ll tell you why I think that.
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed help and you were in a place where you didn’t know anyone or there was no one around who you could call to help you? And then someone shows up from nowhere, helps you with your problem and ‘disappears’ never to be seen again? I put it to you that that was an angel.
I was one of those nervous kids that bed-wet well into my teenage years. For the life of me, I just couldn’t get up to pee at night. I would dream about getting up and going to the toilet without realizing that I was actually urinating. Embarrassing, but true. I didn’t stop until I had a most humiliating experience. It was my first day in the university, and I was to spend my first night in the hostel. I went to bed and I wet the bed. I was on the top bunk. The girl who was sleeping in the bunk below woke me up and she just said to me that I needed to wake up. She was kind. She didn’t laugh, she didn’t shout, despite the fact that I literally peed on her. She quietly helped me take the mattress down and outside to dry and she even scooted over on her own bunk for me to sleep until morning. Of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was mortified.
When the others awoke, we both told them when they asked, that I poured water on the bed. Turns out she wasn’t even supposed to be in that room. She didn’t sleep there the following night. I know she married one of my course mates later in life, long after we were done with school. But I don’t know where they are now. I think that God sent her to help me. And so, in my books, she was an angel.
Towards the end of my first year in the same university, my parents bought me a car. Not like we were stinking rich or anything like that. I think they had decided at some point in their married lives that they would buy their first child a car when he/she got into the university. So, there I was one afternoon, my friends and I just having come out of a lecture and we got to the car park and realized that I had a flat tyre. I knew I had a spare, had even brought it out along with the jack and wheel spanner. But I had no clue how to change it. And neither did my friends.
Then this tall, fair, lanky boy (I call him boy because he had the face of a child) walking past in his old-fashioned waist coat and white long-sleeved shirt tucked into baggy black trousers (notice how I still remember the details) locks eyes with me and smiles. He must have seen the worry etched on my face because he walked straight up to me and asked me to hand over the wheel spanner. In a few minutes, he was done changing the tyre and when I noticed how dirty his hands were from helping me out, I went to the front of the car to get my bottle of water for him to wash them with. But before I got back to the boot where he had been standing, he was gone.
I looked for him in every tall, fair, lanky boy’s face for the rest of my years in that school, because I never got to say thank you. But I never saw him again. I did learn to change a tyre after that, but I will always remember him for rescuing me from my first flat tyre. He was an angel.
Now, school done, and NYSC conquered, I had landed my first job. And it was time to change my car – yep. I had been driving my first car for five years. I sold it and bought a newer model but it was one of those ‘brought-from-Cotonou’ vehicles whose history one could not be sure of. We fixed it up, and I bought a new battery so I was good to go. Unknown to me, the car had a security system that had a wiring problem. And one rainy night as I was driving home, I had turned off the engine while stuck in traffic and the car would not start when it was time to move. I popped the hood like I knew what I was looking for, but I must have looked clueless, because another motorist stopped right beside me, asked me what was wrong. I said I didn’t know. He got in the car, tried the ignition, it didn’t work. He came out and went into his trunk, brought out jump cables. That was the first time I saw one of those. He jump-started my car, told me not to turn off the engine till I got home and he left.
Because it was dark, and I was afraid, I couldn’t quite make out his face. So till now, I don’t know what he looked like, and I never saw him again. He was an angel too. And he made me buy jump cables. So now, I help others. Maybe I’m an angel too? Lol.
Anyway, one last story and I’ll end my missive. I was driving back from the Island one Saturday evening. There was still a bit of daylight but it was almost 7pm. I hit the 3rd mainland bridge and was flooring it, when I heard a loud popping sound. I didn’t stop. There was no way I would let whatever it was get me. But I slowed down a little when my steering wheel started wobbling a little. And then it started wobbling a lot. That’s when I realized that I had lost a tyre. It’s the only time a tyre has ever burst on me, and it happened on the bridge. I was scared shitless. I had heard all kinds of stories about those ‘boys’ on the bridge and so I didn’t want to stop.
I pulled into the extreme right lane and slowed down some more, intent on driving that way until I descended the bridge. I called my boyfriend, who happened to be at work in marina, and told him what had happened. He told me to just keep going and that he would meet up with me. And then I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed a guy on an okada following me. I kept going, hoping he would ride past, but he didn’t. He kept my pace. And then our eyes locked through the visor of his helmet and he waved at me to stop.
“Hell No!” I thought, my heart pounding so hard that my chest could have burst. Then he rode forward, keeping abreast with me, and he said “You’re afraid. Don’t be. Let me help you”.
That’s when I noticed he was elderly, or at least greying in the eyebrows. We drove like that for another 10 seconds while I looked at him and tried to make a decision. At that point, any other person, especially a young one, would have ridden off in irritation. I mean, here I was with a serious problem and someone wanted to help, and I was making shakara. But this baba hung on; he must have seen the fear in my eyes and probably understood my indecision. I eventually decided to take a chance, knowing at the back of my mind that my boyfriend was probably racing to meet me. So I stopped, and the man started to change the tire.
I kept looking furtively around, dreading the point at which those “boys” would jump over the sides of the bridge and walk towards us. But they never came. Just as baba was finishing with the tire, my boyfriend pulled up and I exhaled with relief. He helped the baba finish and thanked him profusely on my behalf. He tried to tip him but the man refused with a smile and went on his way. Boyfriend then escorted me to the nearest filling station, where we checked that the spare could at least take me home, and then drove behind me until he could make the turn at Motorways to head back to the Island. That baba was an angel – an older one, but an angel all the same.
So maybe I have a guardian angel for car trouble, who always sends his junior colleagues just when I need them. But I have been in lots of other situations that are not car-related, and these angels still come around.
Doesn’t matter what you think or say. I certainly believe that there are angels among us. I’ve met them.