“I’ll just drop off some bags of cement in the village up there,” explained Ali. Then we can deliver the rest of the supplies.
Ali turned off the main road onto what looked like a foot path, barely wide enough for the vehicle. Weeds and bushes nearly as high as the vehicle showed that the road had not been used in some time. I seriously wondered if we would make it all the way up.
We wound our way up the mountain pass and finally arrived at the small cluster of houses. A couple of men emerged and helped Ali and I unload the cement.
“There isn’t any room to turn around up here,” explained Ali as we hopped back into the Hilux. “I’ll reverse down to the last bend in the road and we can turn around there.”
Neither of us put on our seat belts.
Ali was a good driver. He was confident but careful, and I trusted him. Neither of us saw the hole that had been dug behind a bump in the road. One of the rear wheels dropped into it.
From that point it seemed like everything changed into slow-motion. I knew that the vehicle would roll and all I could do was watch as it turned onto its side – my side. And then as it continued to roll I carefully placed my hands on the ceiling to brace myself. Now onto the other side, back upright, and finally stopping on its side once again.
I looked up, surprised that Ali wasn’t on top of me. He was no-where to be seen. The engine was still running, so I reached up and switched the ignition key off. I stood up and poked my head through the driver’s side window which was open.
“Are you okay?,” shouted the men as they ran down the hill toward me. “I’m fine.” They helped me climb out of the window. Ali was with them. “Are you okay?” I asked, giving him a hug. “Thank God we are still alive.”
He was bleeding so I took out the first aid kit and helped bandage his cut. Thankfully it wasn’t anything serious. He explained that he had jumped out of the window as the the vehicle began to roll. I had been so focused on bracing myself that I hadn’t even noticed.
We looked over at the now mangled Hilux. The scariest part was that there was a huge bolder as large as the cab right next to where it had stopped rolling. One more quarter-turn and I could have been crushed.
Some weeks later we returned to the same area at the invitation of the villagers. They butchered a sheep and served a huge feast in a gesture of gratefulness. After the meal a local cleric gave thanks that our lives had been spared.
Looking back, I realise that part of me has suppressed this memory. This is partly why I chose to blog about it. To remember what happened, as painful as it is is also an act of gratefulness. I am grateful for the gift of life.