One of the constant controversies about movies is if they are about life displayed as art, or about art dictating life. Movies based on true life stories can be said to depict life, albeit not one hundred percent accurately, and for many adolescents and some adults, we react to some situations based on what we see in the movies. Anyway a wise man once said, “…there is nothing new under the sun…” so, go figure, art must be based on something that has happened before. Indeed sometimes you find yourself playing out a script in your daily life……..
The year of this was 2001 and location was Ibadan. Debbie, my Mitshibushi Tredia, had been a good girl. Unlike my previous cars, George and Sarah who had constantly targeted my payslip, Debbie was gentle on me. I happened to be a good Christian at that time and I paid my tithes regularly, so maybe the devourer that was resident in cars had been bound in Debbie. There was an ongoing strike and I had some free time and money on and in my hands, so I decided to take Deb for a tune up. It was a lazy Tuesday morning and the roads were free. The mechanic visit off Poly road was short as Baba Jimoh confirmed that Debbie was in a good condition. Driving back at about 11am, I turned into Sango road to access Bodija through Awolowo Road for those of you who know Ibadan. That’s when the movie began.
This script was quite dramatic to start with as in this first scene, a man stepped right into the middle of the road and held up his hand to halt my car. He had a gun in his belt. I shuddered, unsure of if to swerve past him and make a run for it. However I sighted some accomplices of his ahead and knew I could not escape. A quick scan also revealed there was no panic around and people went about their business casually. Not like I had a choice really, so I stopped.
The man leaned into my car and flashed a police ID card. He did it too fast for me to confirm it, but I was relieved to see he was a policeman. He asked for my car particulars (vehicle registration, insurance and road worthiness) which I proudly gave to him as I had recently renewed all and the originals were clean and tucked in my glove box. He cursorily scanned them with a look of disappointment, and his interest waned as his eyed drifted to a truck carrying some funny looking goods that drove past us. He and his colleagues tried to wave down the truck but it didn’t stop. That was the cue for scene two.
The cop jumped into my car and said, “Follow that truck!” Just like in the movies. He didn’t look like James Bond or Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon or like any of the other actors I knew, and besides there were no cameras or a movie crew in sight. I sneered at him and said, “You must be joking!” He scowled at me and hissed as he got out and flagged a cab to help him with his pursuit. I was surprised the cabbie obliged. As they drove off, I was still in a daze at the whole encounter. Then it hit me, the policeman had my car particulars! I shifted into gear and gave chase.
They had turned into Awolowo Road which was a two lane road so it was hard for me to overtake the cars in front of me. I kept my eyes glued on the brown and cream Datsun taxi as I gave chase, blaring my horn as another car cut in front of me almost hitting me. I could hear the Mission Impossible theme music now as I swerved, braked, horned and bore down on them. At the other end of Awolowo road which turned into Bodija road, there was a traffic light. Just like in the movies, it turned red as the cab turned and I was three cars behind! I edged into the space beside the traffic (no kerb to climb like in the movies here, the gutter was open) and jumped the red light to continue my chase.
I saw them again at the secretariat roundabout as they turned into Queen Elizabeth road.
“Gotcha!” I fist pumped as I stepped on the accelerator. I was now enjoying this. I gained on them on the wide road and got alongside, feeling victorious. I peeked into the cab to get the cop’s attention, but to my dismay he wasn’t the one in the cab. I had been following the wrong cab! Anyone who grew up in Ibadan will tell you how every brown and cream datsun taxi looks the same, and that there were a million of them in the city.
Deflated I waved apologetically at the bewildered taxi driver and his passenger and I slowed down. Confused and at a loss of what to do next, I coasted back to Bodija and went to see my DJ, Sammy whose shop was behind Favos Supermarket.
“Doc, I’m yet to get the CDs you requested,” Sammy said, surprised to see me well ahead of the appointment he had given me which was three days ahead. I narrated my dilemma to him and he empathized with me. He advised me to go to the nearest police station and make a report. There was one just off Awolowo Road he directed. I tried to construct my story, worried the police would not believe me, anxious the cop I met might have been fake and scared they may detain me and make a fuss. Nigerian police personnel could be funny. However, I was banking on my doctor status. It always counted for something with them.
I drove into the police station. Within the compound I saw the truck, the cab, the taxi driver and the policeman who had taken my papers! Phew! Relieved, I approached him and asked for my papers. He looked at me with a smirk and a hint of a smile saying, “You? You didn’t want to help police abi? Don’t you know police is your friend?”
“Ha oga, I know, but I no get training for that kain driving and assignment. Anyway, thank God say una catch am,” I replied smiling and bright eyed. His smile widened into a grin as my wit and alignment won him over completely.
He handed over my papers and I drove out amused by the whole encounter. Art does imitate life I said to myself as I heard the still small voice of the DIRECTOR of this continuous real life “movie” say, “Cut! Now roll again.”
Cullled from an ongoing compilation of my adventures on the road 🙂