When I became a sophomore at the tail end of 2009 in Hijra 1430, I was so much on top of the universe. I had lots of thoughts gaining free entry and exit in and out of my mind. I wanted to be bigger, prettier and more respected. The session that preceeded showed nothing of me than a naïve sixteen year old who had just gained admission as a freshman into the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. The whole idea of remaining the same “Wardah” I was in my first year begun to freak me out as I desperately yearned for a change. I thought of no other thing than how to change my wardrobe, get a new phone, buy new shoes and bags and jewelry, expensive make – up kit, a sophisticated laptop for the sophisticated second year law student I was about to become and of course get my father to increase my monthly stipend. I would sit on the balcony of my parents’ little house and create a vision of myself getting attention from all corners of the faculty and becoming popular. These were beautiful dreams that were too much for the taste buds in my mind to savour.

Each new day found me sinking in my deep sea of crazy thoughts but I never got drunk of it. I never even seemed to get enough of it. It so much became a routine that I became discontented with whatever I was given by my poor parents. I found a new “Wardah” in myself in the figure of an Oliver twist that never ceased to ask for more. It went on and on and on until the day came; one of the sunniest days ever, when my father took my elder brother and I with him on a trip to Lagos. It was our tradition to Invoke Allah (SWT) before and after embarking on any journey. So, that day was not an exception.

We had toured all the places my father intended for us and by the grace of Allah; we took off on another long journey back home. My elder brother was sitting next to my father in the front seat, both lost in a conversation that just seemed boring to me. I began to feel alone. My crazy thoughts were not sufficient to keep me company, giving way for the cool breeze that found its way through the window to pamper my eyes. My eyes became heavy after a while and before I knew it, my tired body was lying flat on the back seat of the car, fast asleep.

I didn’t know just how long I had slept. I only remember waking up to find myself on the floor of the car. I was unaware of what woke me up, but I thought I must have been so engrossed in the sleep that I didn’t know how and when I fell off from the seat to the floor. Then I made attempts to get up, but I kept failing. I tried so hard until my efforts got interrupted by the voice of my elder brother crying out to me, “Wardah, please open the back door.” Even at that moment, I was still oblivious of the events that surrounded me. My mind was empty, my body seemed lifeless and my brain, inactive. I just lay there, staring into nothing.

With a great deal of force in his weakest physical state, my brother managed to get himself to the back to open the door and as he did that, it became easy for me to get up from where I lay. The sight that stared me in the face was a very terrible one. Both my father and my elder brother were soaked in a pool of blood and the car, badly damaged beyond reasonable recognition. A very fast shiver ran down my spines and like a robot, I had no tears. I just remained speechless and numb. At that moment, it dawned on me that we had been involved in a terrible accident. But to my utmost disbelief, I was still as healthy as ever. No injuries, no sprains and no cramps. I just couldn’t figure out how.

The hours that followed found us in a nearby first aid clinic at Sagamu in Ogun State where the accident occurred. My father and my elder brother were both receiving first medical attention while some of the nurses stared at me with eyes filled with awe. They just couldn’t comprehend how I escaped the slightest pain and injury in that terrible accident.

One of my uncles was soon contacted and after some time, he came in the company of his wife to pick us up. While we journeyed back home, I got carried away by a series of assembled thoughts which flowed in and out of my wide opened mind and I found myself asking a number of questions. There were too many questions at a time; that my blank brain just couldn’t provide answers to them. Questions like “What if they had not used the seatbelts? Would they have found their ways through the windscreen back to Allah?” “What if I hadn’t lain on the back seat? Wouldn’t I have been injured beyond reasonable repair?” “What if we had all died? How would our family feel?”

A new vision of me found its way through my weak brain as I begun to imagine myself without either hands or legs or even my sense of sight. I then drifted to assuming myself dead. Where would I go? What was i going to experience in my grave? I was shaken by these thoughts. The experience I had gained in that short time was a lifelong experience which taught me that only a thin line separated life from death. My mind was too weak to accommodate the hundreds of thoughts running in and out and there was no better way to get rid of them at that moment than to allow the tears flow. For the first time since the occurrence, I cried. If the accident had ended my life, would that have ended all my dreams of being a respectable justice, a very wealthy and popular figure, the best wife for a fabulous husband and a cute mother for the loveliest kids? What was going to happen to that beauty which many admired? Would the memories of my being continue to live and grow in the hearts of those who were aware of my existence? No question seemed to come with a full stop. The more they came, the heavier my heart became.

Finally, the burden of my thoughts lightened when the car halted in the parking lot of the casualty section of the University College Hospital of the University of Ibadan. Almost immediately, the nurses got my father and my elder brother wheeled in. I had to stay with them in the hospital till the next day, when my mother was brought down there in her weakest emotional state. The hours I spent in the hospital were so filled with terror. The things I saw were so frightening that I could never forget them in my entire life. I began to shiver when the fear of Allah gripped me. The sight of patients whose conditions were worse than ours, patients who in the cause of their own accidents, had lost their sights and spinal cords, some who had become lunatics in the course of the deadly event, some whose arms and legs had to be amputated, some whose lower parts had become dead and inactive, blood everywhere, and the majority who had to be wheeled into the mortuary having answered to Allah’s call.

It was an eye opener, a dreadful experience and the basis of a reminiscence I will cherish for the rest of my short and vulnerable life. I felt ashamed of myself as I kept thanking Allah for his mercies I never asked him for and asking for his forgiveness for being the foolish, ungrateful whiner I was. I had closed my mind to the fact that each movement I made with every part of my body would not have been possible without the leave of Allah. I had a lot to thank Allah endlessly for, but my love for all the good things of this world made them fall off my radar. All my dreams were directed towards things of this transient world when I had the abandoned choice of living my whole life in service to my Creator. And until the very tragic occurrence, I had been lost in thoughts of how to upgrade my social status as a sophomore in school. What an idea for a loser?

The motor accident was a gift. It was an evidence of Allah’s sincere love for me. I knew I needed a rebirth. I needed to adopt a new life as a stranger. I decided to rebrand my orientation. I resolved to submit myself to the total will of the Almighty Allah and accept all that He has decreed. I prayed fervently to Him to help me regain my nearness to him and this has helped me strengthen my faith in Him.

Today, the satisfaction and peace I get from my rebirth is a treasure I will cling to for the rest of my life. I am no longer anxious of what will happen tomorrow as it has already been decreed by Allah. I am now inclined to live like I will be no more tomorrow because for every life is a definite end and verily, “from Allah we come and to him we shall return”.  

Wardah Abbas is a Law student at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a great lover of Islam, an aficionado of the natural environment, a passionate Muslimah and writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite to change. You can reach her through her e –mail, itab1992@yahoo.com                

                                                                                 Image   -Wardah Abbas

                                                                                     20th Safar 1434 / 2nd January 2013

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