A tale of car keys and last bars: I buried a best friend


If you are driving very fast, a split second is all it takes to crash and die. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Have you ever nodded off on the wheel? I have a few times. Most recently when I was struggling with jet lag. You don’t realise that you are falling asleep.

You are leaving the consciousness of control, losing control of your car and putting your fate and life in the hands of a different god. Mostly the god of death.

It all happens so fast. One moment you are driving down a highway, listening to the road. Next, you hear, from very far, the gradient of the surface of the road change, as the wheels get off the smooth tarmac. In a moment of panic, it occurs to you that you have fallen asleep.

You jolt awake, stunned and confused. Your heart is hammering so hard in your chest that you can actually hear it. You quickly correct the course of your car and your life.

It leaves you trembling — your hands and legs. You think of your children. You roll down the window and let in the fresh air. These events happen in a split second.

And if you are driving very fast, a split second is all it takes to crash and die.

I hear it’s worse when you have been drinking. Alcohol, copious amounts of it, I hear, is heavier than sleep. I buried a best friend who rammed a stationary truck after having a few drinks.

He didn’t die on the spot, though. He died two days later, with no feeling from the neck downward. Left behind three children.

There is a foolish loyalty we all possess to our car, that we have to go everywhere with it. A blind sense of invincibility.

This kind of loyalty is fatal. The worst place you can drive to is the bar. Your car will become your coffin.

It’s December and we are heady and celebratory from seeing the end of the year. It’s would be nice to also see the beginning of next year.

And sometimes the difference is as simple as drinking and then drinking. Stay safe, dear reader.

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