Saturday, October 1, 2011
18. Narrow Escapes 1 : Saved by the Shoestrings.
I remember passing miles and miles of sugarcane fields. We stopped at one place to have tea and some dudes broke into the fields through the perimeter fence and cut sugar cane. The more responsible ones protested saying that the vehicle would be searched at the check point yet to pass and everybody would get into trouble, still the rampage went on, because it seemed like a cool thing to do.
Then I remember a tractor pulling a trailer loaded with sugarcane passing and our dudes stopped it and talked the driver into allowing us to take some sugar cane from the trailer. So several bundles of sugarcane were loaded into the bus.
My father and I were sitting on the right hand side of the bus, me given the window seat as usual. It started to rain making us to shut the windows. And inside the bus it was becoming more and more humid. My father was holding the rail running the length of the front seat as he always did as a seasoned traveler. I was chewing on my sugarcane when I felt that my shoes were loose.
I lifted my feet off the floor and jammed them against the back of the front seat. Yes the shoestrings were undone. I had only recently learned the art of tying them on my own and they had a habit of coming off frequently giving me a chance to practice. I braced the feet against the hard surface of the back of the front seat and started doing the knot again when the bus crashed.
First I felt the thud reverberating up my legs. then then the skidding of the bus. Then Then the tearing metal. And then the screams.
I watched in horror the overhead bins spill on the passengers. One canvas bag fell on me and father.
Then there was silence.
I stood up stepping on a bundle of sugar cane that has suddenly appeared under my feet and I peeped out of the window to see a car had rammed into the side of the bus. And another jeep had hit the car head on.
As I later realized the car had tried to overtake the bus and seen the oncoming jeep too late. As a last ditch effort he had chosen to swing in to the bus which was traveling in the same direction rather than hitting the jeep head on. Somehow he had ended up hitting the bus and being hit by the jeep simultaneously.
A lot of people in the bus were injured. Other than the bruised shoulder from the fallen traveling bag, Father and I were unscathed. There were bleeding heads, cut faces, broken teeth, bleeding mouths and lot of injury.
My father had escaped because he always held the front seat rail and had braced himself. I just escaped being thrown against the front seat because I was in the best crash position bracing my feet tight against the back of the front seat as I was tying my shoestrings.
So somehow I escaped serious injury thanks to my shoelaces.