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The bus took off at around 8:30pm and at that time, Uju and Tunde had become acquainted. They talked about life in school and after school, and what they wanted to achieve at the end of their service year.
Tunde tried to teach her a bit of the Hausa language, they both spoke in hush tones and Uju kept giggling at the sound of the language, which she now had to learn.
The night was cold, most of the passengers slept wearing large cardigans to keep warm while some others were awake, on their phones or reading books with the aid of the little reading light, which hung just above the passenger’s seat.
Uju wore woolly hand gloves and a thick black hoodie; she cuddled up with Tunde for body warmth and slept leaning on his shoulder for support.
The journey was smooth and the night was peaceful but all that changed in the twinkle of an eye.
The left rear tyre burst into pieces, causing every passenger in the vehicle to panic. Uju clasped Tunde’s hand tightly.
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Uju struggled to open her eyes, she was conscious but her hand was covered in blood, not her blood, Tunde’s blood.
All passengers struggled to get out of the bus, Uju kicked open a window and carefully crawled out of the bus; she sustained minor injuries and bruises on her lower back.
Uju reached out for Tunde’s hand and with some assistance, they pulled him out through the window. Tunde sustained a broken femur and multiple bruises. He called out for Uju, he was in pain… he cried.
The driver did a head count of the passengers and a good number of them sustained minor injuries while two men including Tunde sustained major injuries.
Uju sat on the grass beside Tunde and used her hoodie as a head support for him. His breath was faint; he had lost a lot of blood.
At dawn, another bus arrived; all passengers and luggages were carefully transferred into the new vehicle. Tunde and other injured passengers who could not walk were carefully lifted using a make shift stretcher.
He lay stretched out on the last seat of the coaster bus while Uju placed his head on her thighs for support. At Lokoja, the bus driver drove to the nearest hospital so that the injured are cared for while the other passengers are examined.
TO BE CONTINUED… NYSC