Saturday, 6 December, 2008. I was returning home after a tedious day, over 2 hours of which I’d spent traversing a 2-kilometre stretch of road (from the Festac-Amuwo Odofin link bridge to Mega-Chicken — the traffic situation was straight out of a nightmare). I’d finally got to Daleko bridge, Mushin, where there was some traffic, but nothing serious.
At 8:52pm, I made a quick call home to say I’d be there in maybe half an hour. From my other phone, Jennifer Knapp was belting out “Bring Me Into You.” The car before me moved forward some. I followed. I was suddenly aware of 2 guys walking over from my left. One sported a dirty white tee-shirt, the other was in ankara. White Tee came over to my window, which was down, and asked for “somet’in.” I briefly wondered if thieves could actually ply their “trade” right here on top of the bridge. By this time, Ankara was at the passenger side, where he met the door locked and the window up, and White Tee was asking me to give up my phone. And sticking his hand in my breast pocket. And now Ankara was at my window too and I saw a quick movement — he was bringing something out! (I never did determine what it was, but it wasn’t a gun.)
Then something detonated inside, I think. It was like, what right had they? I remember feeling somehow violated. And I knew, suddenly, that I wasn’t giving in. Not without a fight. I looked out, the road ahead was quite free. I gunned the engine, swinging to my left. Let them hang on. They did. Harder. In a flash of blind panic I slammed harder on the pedal — and promptly came up short.
I was instantly aware of three things. One, the thieves were gone (and this gave me a savage pleasure). Two, the car was tilted at a very unnatural angle, downward to the right. Three, the car wasn’t going to be a pretty sight. Then I thought, “What if I’m trapped here?” So I tried the door — it opened — and scrambled out, had to jump to the ground. I stood there a minute, trying to process what just happened. There was a tremor in my legs. People came around. One “okada” guy was already raking that I’d nearly put paid to him. I was trying to explain that I hadn’t just being impatiently overtaking, that something had spurred me on — and remembered my phones were still in there. Went back, picked them up — Jennifer Knapp was still rocking — put the gear in neutral, shut down the engine, took out the keys.
The car wasn’t pretty: bumper was off, bad dent on the right, engine oil spilled, right front tire busted, shaft probably damaged. But not a scratch on me. Some touts had appeared, and they offered — for a fee, of course — to lift the car off the bridge railing and move it before LASTMA showed up (a bad hold-up was quickly building). They parked it overnight under the bridge — their domain — and I picked it up the next day, Sunday, without incident.
A lot has run through my mind since. Anger at the thieves. Delight over my defiance. Regret that my stunt hadn’t fully succeeded. Sadness about the damage to the car. But deeper than all that and lasting through it all, I feel a profound gratitude to God, and a keener sense of destiny. After all, so much could have gone horribly wrong. They could have had a gun, and used it (I’ve since heard of previous attacks on the same bridge, and one woman my parents know is still on crutches after being shot in the leg). I could have careened over the bridge. The damage to the car could have been much worse.