On Friday the 21st of March 2014 at 0615HRS, I could have died. But I didn’t.
My life on earth could have ended. But it didn’t.
“Mercy said ‘no’.”
Jesus is not done with me yet.
I WILL SPEND THE REST OF MY DAYS MAKING SURE I AM LIVING OUT HIS PURPOSE FOR MY VERY EXISTENCE.
I was driving myself to the airport to catch a flight to Johannesburg. I don’t usually use the route I used, but I had to by some proudly Zimbabwean products for my family across the Limpopo who had put in orders for different colours of Mazoe, Chicken Flings, Things, Chomp and Nut log. So stopping to buy these items at a place I knew was open and would have everything I needed at 6am found me abandoning my usual route to the airport from our house. I was so amazed at how swift the journey was; no traffic, no road blocks…just absolute bliss. As I approached Chiremba Road, I was probably in Calgary, Alberta with my thoughts and my emotions were completely out of whack that morning anyway so to put it plainly, ndanga ndaka varairwa. I remember hearing TK interviewing Guspy Warrior on ZiFM but neche kure kure, as I was so consumed and lost inside myself. It was early, I was planning, arranging, sorting- you know how it is. As I neared the railway line, I was so deep in thought that when the siren or bell or alarm from the train approaching rang, I heard it, and thought to myself, ‘Hmmm I wonder what that sound is?’ I could hear it, but I wasn’t listening!
I’d heard that sound before; when the power goes off and comes back on in the neighbourhood in which I live, I hear it coming from the President’s house, I think. So it’s a sound I’m…used to, I guess so that last thing I thought was ‘danger’.
Now these next few seconds have changed me forever. I don’t know who you pray to every day or what you credit your existence to, but my entire being is credited to Jesus Christ. I’ve heard people saying, “I had an encounter with God” and I understood it, but not as well as I understand it now. Even when reading Bible stories I would envy Moses, Shadreck, Mishek and Abednigo, David, Daniel Abraham…all the characters who had encounters with God. I would ask myself, “Lord, am I not Holy enough for you to speak to me? Am I not worthy enough for you to reveal yourself to me? Am I not pure enough to be in your presence?”
The police reports say I had no passengers in my car, but I did. I had Jesus. Some comments on Facebook have suggested that it was a man driving my car- hilarious at face value- but spine-tingling in depth because Jesus really was there!
The 2 seconds before the train hit me were a deliberation on whether or not I should slam the breaks or accelerate. To be honest, I’m not sure which I did because the moment I realised a moving train was coming in my direction, all my senses shut down. I lost sound, I lost sight, I lost feeling, I lost it all- but above all I lost control as Jesus took the wheel. You know that saying, “Let go and let God?” I was too afraid to think, too numb to protest and too paralysed to make sense… or feel senses.
As the train hit me, I heard nothing- or perhaps the impact was so loud that I couldn’t hear it, but there was silence and as my car flew into the air. I felt like I was flying- because I was, literally. It was a light feeling…like I was being carried, or had been given wings.
I was so afraid.
Then the conversation began; that conversation between God and me. I swore, “Oh sh*t, this is an accident! Is this what an accident feels like?” Then an answer came, “Yes, calm down. Relax.” I had more questions, as the car hit the ground onto the road on the other side of the railway line, “When is this going to stop? Make it stop!” He replied louder than before, “Just now…be calm…be still.”
I was no longer afraid.
The car jolted to a halt, facing the direction from which I had come. “You are okay. Get out the car,” He said. Immediately, my senses came back to life- or perhaps it was I who came back to life. Suddenly, I could hear everything, the shards of glass from my passenger’s side, the screeching of the train’s breaks against the tracks, the people on the road screaming and shouting toward my direction. As I looked up and saw the train, I began to panic. I looked over to the passenger’s seat almost wondering where my passenger had gone because He wasn’t there- and I could have sworn that in those ten seconds before that He was right there. I shook my head, looked up at the airbags and tried to open the door. I was shaking. I was irritated and then I got angry really quickly- with myself- for driving in front of a moving train. “How stupid, Ruvheneko. Nice one! You’ve never had a car accident in your life and you start with a train! Well done! What time is it? Will I still make my flight? Who are all these people? Wait, don’t touch me…” As my bum met the pavement, I was being forced to lie down, someone took off my shoes while someone else unbuttoned my shirt- then I paused. Something about strangers touching me didn’t feel right. I looked up at my car and saw my door wide open, my keys in the ignition, the engine still running and my handbag on the floor by my feet. I ran over, now barefoot, grabbed my valuables – forgetting that the most valuable item had just stepped out of a car unscathed, unbroken, unharmed after being hit by a moving train. I was alive! Annoyed with all the people telling me what to do; sit down, relax and lie down…blah blah blah…I took my phone out and dialled my Mother. She picked up immediately. I told her. She didn’t say much but I knew she was already on her way to me. I was having trouble breathing by now, shaken and stirred. Passengers started disembarking the train, passers-by had multiplied, phones were out and pictures were being taken. I called my father; he didn’t pick up. I called him again. He didn’t pick up. I tried again. Still. Nothing.
All the while I was dodging calling the one man who I knew would lose his mind if he heard about this- especially because I wasn’t sure if I really was okay and also what the extent of the damage was. Finally, I dialled him. As I spoke with him, I walked round to the other side of the car- the side Jesus was sitting and it was wide open; so wide open that there was no point in locking it. Also so wide open that I found myself wondering, “Jesus, you were sitting right here- are you okay?”
On the scene: photos, questions, comments etc. waiting for my mother to arrive felt like a lifetime. I was irritable, shell-shocked, restless, stressed, worried, scared, but…at peace. As though that even makes sense. But nothing about this makes sense: How did I get hit by a moving train? How did I survive?
In all my years, I have never ever seen a train pass at that railway line. There were no flashing lights, no boom to stop cars- it was just open. My family and friend in the Diaspora say I should sue the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) or the traffic safety council for having no security measures. Goodness, I don’t have the energy. They are right, but I was wrong. I should have stopped and look right and left- it was a railway line, but so many of us take driving on Zimbabwean roads so ‘lightly’. We don’t indicate when changing lanes, we barely ever give each other way, we don’t stop for pedestrians at Zebra crossings…but our law enforcers, instead of standing a railway lines when a train is passing with a ‘stop’ sign- they would rather wait for us along Second Street Extension about radio licences. An important fee we must all pay, but what about having traffic officers at broken-down traffic lights, crowded intersections during rush-hour or at zebra crossing to help little sic-year-olds walking to school cross the road…or please, at railway lines.
Zimbabweans are a spiritual people; every other comment from witnesses was, “Tenda Mwari. Kana usati wambo namata, tanga kunamata nhasi. Mwari achiri kukuda! Wanzwa?”
Then of course those who thought I was crazy; “Driver uyu ano rwara chete! Anga yedze kubhita chitima?” Some Facebook comments even wished I had died, some cursed my late grandfather and living father for me driving a Mercedes at an age they guessed I was ‘20years’ at. Other funny comments (in retrospect) spoke of, “Wanga uchida kuti chitima chikupe giveway iwewe nhai. Mu road hamuzivi VIP” and “Chitima hachisi murume wako waunoita manegotiations nayo wanzwa.” While others decided my licence was illegitimate and I wanted to kill myself- oh yes- and someone even went as low as saying that I wanted to die like my grandfather in a train accident; I wish Zimbabweans would learn their history. Dr Samueal Tichafa Parirenyatwa killed by a train? No. It’s called POLITICS.
Anyway, all those comments aside; I don’t think that accidents happen intentionally, or else they’d be given a different name.
The train drivers told me how lucky I was that they had adhered to their own safety regulations by slowing down because they were about to approach the Harare station. “Sista ka, dai tanga tiri kudhirivha ne normal speed yedu ka, tingadai takuzvuwai kusvika chitima chamira.” Which was corroborated by a nurse at the hospital when I went for my medical examination: “Right there pana Chiremba road ndakawona motokari uchizviwiwa nechitima vanhu vana vese vanga vari mo vakafa. Vaka funfunyuka vose ndiko kuzo cherwa ne mafoshoro; gumbo uko, musoro uko-”
Yet, I made it.
No money in the world can replace my life. Tell me how do I thank God for this? What kind of offering do I give to him?
Here is what I learned:
1. Obey road rules. We studied our highway codes for a reason. We take so many shortcuts when driving. Anything can happen. Anytime!
2. Every single day we get into a piece of metal with four rubber wheels, trusting it to get us safely between points A-F, yet in reality we are taking a serious gamble with our lives and every day we are kept safe. Tendai mwari.
3. Just because you think you are a good driver, it doesn’t mean everyone else using the same road as you is on your level so be cautious of other drivers but above everything, if you follow YOUR rules, the rest will follow theirs.
4. A good car is an investment. Painful as it may be to purchase it in the first place, it’s surely worth the reward. Any other piece of metal of any other car model might decide a different fate.
5. Pay attention when driving. We often don’t take a second thought to indicating, slowing down, changing gears etc. because driving has become so natural to some of us- so automatic that it’s easy to be behind the wheel physically, but be elsewhere mentally and emotionally. Pay attention when driving.
6. I was not supposed to be in Johannesburg this weekend so God was saving me from something bigger- perhaps worse. God has plans for us all. If he says ‘no’ he means ‘no’ or ‘not yet.’ They say God has a keen sense of humour too, “Ho saka waka chinja maRanda ako ichiti uri kuenda kuJohni? Shem. Bhora pasi mudikani.”
7. That car is just a car. As my Mom said, “We can replace a car, but Ruvheneko mumwe ndinonomutenga kupi…Anowuya ne cargo from which country? How much duty would I pay?” I am my Mommy’s only girl; zai regondo.
I would like to appeal to Government, the NRZ and the Traffic Safety Council to ensure the safety of motorists by making it easier for us to obey road rules. At functioning railway lines, can we please have booms and flashing lights to show that there is a real moving train approaching? Perhaps even a flyover? I don’t know! Something! It’s a two-way thing, right? This goes for all traffic safety; road signs of every nature.
However, the bottom line is I made a stupid mistake; which is why it’s called an accident. No one died; except perhaps a part of my humanity which has now allowed Jesus to take it over and substitute it with spirituality.
My husband and I had barely been married three months- we haven’t even started a family! My parents are both still alive and well. Tell me where the enemy thought he was going to send me so prematurely? Hakuna.
I am alive!
How many times do we acknowledge this?
I will acknowledge it. Every single day of my life!
“Mercy said, ‘No!’”
Jesus is not done with me yet.
Look, if you don’t believe in God, believe in Mercedes because iSIMBI. Kwete yenhema but yema shuwa shuwa!