Hollywood flashbacks can be comical…

On the road, somewhere in Africa …
The weather was temperate when the journey started.
“Thank God,” I thought and muttered a silent prayer for the day to be pleasant.
I decided on my Columbia silver ridge Capri trek pants rather than the full length. I’d be in the vehicle most of the day traveling overland and have noted that women are rather causally dressed in western clothes even in the hither lands.
1 hour plus into our journey, the vehicle was brought to a sudden halt that shook me our of my sleep.
Damn. I should stop falling asleep and pay attention.
He shrugged his shoulders when I gave him my quizzical look, signaling that he hadn’t a clue what’s happening. Immediately he winds up his window to a crack, frees the stick shift and pull the handbrake.
We sat just there in utter silence.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I stirred. Damn. I really, really should stop falling asleep.
We were still where we were. An hour had passed by. My cheap Uniqlo long sleeve tee was beginning to be a ‘problem’ … the air was getting still and I was getting a prickly sensation, less from the weather I suspect.
My driver’s language was getting a tat more colourful as he muttered to himself.
Of course I can only guess – mostly from the change in his demeanor and tone.
Beats of sweat begin to form above his bushy brows. I try not to stare.
But there’s really very little for me to do and feeling suddenly parched my gaze is drawn to anything that’s liquefied!
He whips out a crumpled box from his vests pocket.
I am guessing he must be perspiring like crazy under the vest, against cheap coconut and sponge upholstered seats wrapped in PVC that’s threatening to burst out at its seems, held precariously by some thick nylon strings, I would imagine.
He flicks the lighter with his index finger and inhales deeply … as if this was going to be his last draw before he is shot in his head.
“@#$%”, I thought.
I’m uncertain how much lower I should wind the window down forgetting that the window at my side is wrecked. I had earlier stuffed receipts I have given up collecting in the hope of claiming VAT when I leave the country/ continent for good in the cracks of where the rubber lining had hardened and peeled off.
Imaginations run wild as I contemplate between dying of second degree smoking and the unknown risks of having the window wound down. Surely there’s a reason as to why the driver wound his up the moment the vehicle came to a standstill.
I mean, what if a gun man appears and sticks the muzzle of his gun in my face?
Yeah sure, a flimsy transparent material between me and the outside world is going to make a difference. Who am I kidding?
The air conditioning vent starts coughing and dispelling mists.
I am screwed.
To take my mind off, I start fiddling with both my cameras.
Deciding to look at the world through a thumbnail size box, I depress the little ladybug – it’s great to go digital. Who cares about the 20,000 photos that I’d never look at?
As time draws on endlessly, my driver starts spitting words into his mobile phone.
I noticed the signs on the back of the truck ahead of us.
Great! My driver have committed all of the forbidden stuff … nothing exploded though.
We must be safe.
© {p}.Haque – All Rights Reserved
However, soon after a few men started appearing.
Some approached the vehicles in front of us.
I slide my butt down towards the edge of the seat, willing myself to fall and fold at the floor board, disappearing from view, if need be. I did this however slowly, as curiosity got the better of me, wanting to observe what was happening ahead. In a sinister way, I believe deep down in me, I’d like to stare the guy straight in his eye if he was going to pull the trigger on me. But mostly it was my ragging mind going:
are they dragging people out of their cars??!?!???

are they pulling out their pistols and shooting innocent women and children point blank????!?!?!????
My palms became clammy.
I tried to say a prayer, but I couldn’t think straight.
All I said repeatedly was, “I’m sorry mommy”
I’m seriously thinking: just shoot me point blank
My vision was darting in every possible directions. I could not feel any connection with my limbs. Immobilized.

In the side mirror reflection I see a distance Zoroastrian symbol flickering in the embedded hills that seems to swallow the valley that I’m traveling through. It occurred to me in brief seconds that I know nothing of Zoroastrian, let alone the symbol. But I am certain to the core of my bones that it’s a Zoroastrian symbol.

What does all of this mean?
I blame the press.
I blame Hollywood’s Proof of Life
I am in Africa now … back to Nairobi for a couple of days before I move on for almost a month, hoping to end in Addis Ababa without any incident or glitches other than meeting great people and witnessing mother nature at her best.Now that I recollect the memory above, all of this seems comical.

But I swear it truly was far from funny then!Looking back, this was the one moment in my entire 2012 that I felt most connected to myself and my life. I was most alive – ironically.

Good news, I didn’t curse once.
I had always thought that the last word that will escape me as I take my last breath is a curse word.


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