Today’s post is a bit different than my usual ones. While it still aims to entertain, you’ll find that the tone is different -simply because the story I’m telling was not a great experience at the time. Thankfully, I can look back and laugh at it now.
The below is a non-fiction narrative I wrote for a class back in 2013. I was very hesitant about sharing it here because it’s not quite the same as what I usually post. This is one of the most heartfelt pieces I’ve ever written and its main objective for me was to gain some closure from what had happened.
But when I got to thinking about it, I consider this one of my best non-fiction pieces, so I decided to share it with you. I added some images to lighten the mood a little bit. After this, I promise we will get back to our regularly scheduled comedy!
Here you go…
I stood in the middle of the busy street, one shoe in hand, stunned and unable to move. Cars passed, the people inside them all gawking at me, until they saw what there was to see, and then they’d pass. They understood.
A bundle of strangers crowded around me, all shouting and saying things at the same time. They weren’t aware that at that particular moment, I didn’t give a damn as to what any of them had to say. The voices in my head were doing all the talking.
Good job, Mona. You lasted one week. One week! You suck.
At that moment, a woman I didn’t know lunged towards me, shoving a bottle of water into my lips.
“Drink! Drink! You need this,” she shouted.
I took a few forced gulps, wondering why in God’s name this woman thought a gulp of water would fix my problems. I looked at the scene again just to be sure. Nope, the water did absolutely nothing.
“Give me your bag!” the same woman ordered.
Is she going to steal from me? Now? Does this woman have no sense of timing at all?
At that moment, I spaced out, trying to remember if I had considered the possibility of a strange woman forcing me to drink water and asking to take my bag when I had woken up that morning. No, I had no idea. But to be honest, I had no idea any of it was going to happen.
I was on my usual drive back home from campus, as usual. I was listening to music, as usual. The girl in the song was singing, “How did we get here, when I used to know you so well? How did we get here?” I had bobbed my head with the music, as usual.
My week-old driver’s license rested triumphantly in my wallet. I was enjoying my new car privileges. Being a daughter in an over-protective family meant that I couldn’t use the car on my own until I had my license, so I had been deliriously happy having had a shot at freedom.
Yay! No more leaving early because the driver had a long day, or sitting next to friends who drive worse than microbus drivers. Finally, I was the one behind the damn wheel.
The three-lane street near my campus had been filled to the brim with cars and trucks, and since this was the usual traffic for five pm, I had joined the line of waiting cars.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I had heard a loud crunching noise engulfing my car from behind. The sound of metal on metal was terrible, nightmarish. I jumped in surprise, not really realizing what was going on. The crunching was slow, painful. It felt as if my own body was the one being compressed.
A truck behind me on my right was pushing my car diagonally towards the left. I started screaming, my voice unrecognizable. My windows were shut and so no one could hear me. Suddenly, it was like I was completely alone. All the other cars melted away, and it was just me.
The car moved agonizingly slowly to the left, and there was nothing I could think of doing that could help me stop it. With trembling fingers, all I could do was lower the volume on the car stereo. The singer’s voice still made its way through my screams.
“How did we get here?”
I couldn’t understand how I’d gotten there. I’d worked so hard to get a license and prove to my parents that I was responsible enough to handle driving. And now what was happening? I was wrecking the car.
My car kept moving until it was perpendicular to the street, with me facing the approaching cars. I slowly reached over and put the car on park, because I wanted the scary, slow movement to stop.
But it wasn’t the end.
Another truck approached my side of the car, and also painfully and slowly crashed into me. I stared at it blankly, accepting the fact that I was about to die.
This is it. I’m just going to be another statistic. This is how it ends.
I had always pictured shattering glass as a quick motion, but the window’s glass shattered in slow motion, in an almost organized fashion. It landed in little pieces on my lap. They looked like tiny diamonds.
“How did we get here, when I used to know you so well?”
The truck stopped just before crushing me into pieces. Its big tires and white metal were close enough for me to touch, but I just stared at it silently.
A crowd of people, all asking me if I was okay, dragged me out the car. I was covered in tiny bits of glass. While some men pushed my car to the side of the road. Only one surprising thought came to mind.
There’s glass in my shoe.
And that’s how I ended up taking off my shoe in the middle of a road full of cars, and emptying it of glass while tens of people gawked at me.
I suddenly snapped back to reality while people gently nudged me so that I could move away to the side of the road.
Yes, I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s valuable time, what with my breezy near death experience.
The woman was still waiting for an answer regarding my bag that I was tightly clutching with my sweaty hands. I asked her why she wanted it, and she explained that she just wanted to hold on to it for me. She looked honest enough, so I handed her my bag.
Even if she was to steal it, at that point I didn’t really care. My parents were probably planning to give away all my stuff after they brutally murdered me anyway.
It was the moment of truth. The street had returned back to normal, and it was time for me to really look at my mom’s car, which was now waiting at the sidewalk.
The black Jetta was unrecognizable to me. Somehow, both the backlights were crushed, and the two doors on my side were bent so hard they wouldn’t close. Crushed glass filled the front and back seats. I felt my heart drop to my knees.
Is this real? Please let this just be a bad dream.
“At least you’re okay, you’re more valuable than the car,” one bystander said.
I looked at him, and tears formed in my eyes. “I don’t care about me, screw me. Look at the car! My mother is going to kill me!”
The woman who was holding my bag hugged me tightly as I broke down into sobs. I’d ruined my mom’s car. The same reliable car we’d ride to the north coast in. The same reliable car with the stolen back logo, now hung upside down thanks to our driver. The car my mother drove to all her appointments. The car that took us all everywhere. Everywhere. The car I’d learned to drive in.
Somehow, with its shattered glass, backlights and doors, my confidence and belief in myself shattered along right with it. I wasn’t responsible. My parents were right.
The woman pulled me back from her embrace and magically whipped out a piece of gum. She stuck it in my mouth harshly. She was starting to annoy me, even though she meant well.
“Take it! You need it so you don’t faint!”
I gave her a look. Why did she think I was going to faint? Did I strike her as a person who faints in moments of panic?
Who does she think I am? Snow white?
I took the gum and nervously chewed. At that point I decided to make a screaming call to a friend. He told me he’d send another geographically nearer friend over. He called me again to try and distract me from my state of panic, but of course, he failed.
“Tell me about your surroundings till Hussein reaches you,” He asked, “What’s around you?”
“I don’t know. Oh, God. I can’t believe this is happening,” I broke into more sobs.
“Don’t cry! Stop crying right now!” he shouted at me.
God, I need normal friends.
We established that he sucked at comforting me so I would just wait for his friend to pick me up. After all, who shouts at someone who had just almost died? Moments like these ranked pretty high in situations where you are allowed to completely break down.
I got suggestions from bystanders to call my mother. They told me they’d tell her it wasn’t my fault, that it was the truck driver’s fault. The truck driver had hit me and then run off. Had I been concentrating at the beginning, I think I would have kicked him really hard in an area that he valued very much.
Of course I couldn’t call my mother. Or my sister, brother or father. My entire family is composed of people who panic. I knew they would all have awful reactions. My mother would scream –and probably faint, and who knows if someone would be next to her to give her gum? My sister would scream at me for even getting into the car in the first place. My brother would probably suggest that I relax and find a quiet place in the street to meditate. And my father? He’d probably tell me it was God’s way of telling me to cover up and get veiled already.
So it was settled. My delightful family would be the last to know. My friends, however, I did call.
One friend drove my car to campus, injuring himself on some glass, which was ironic, considering I had walked away without a scratch.
After he had driven the car back to campus, my friends were all looking at me like I was a ghost. Apparently, I was supposed to have died that day. I was told that the Jetta had “strong bones”, meaning that its steel frame was sturdy. If it weren’t for that car, I wouldn’t have survived.
I was driven home by friends, and left the car on campus. I entered the house, stared my mother in the eye and told her that I had something to tell her.
“You’ve been in an accident,” she guessed, her face pale.
And that’s when my mother surprised me. There was no panic, no screaming and no fainting.
“Thank God you’re okay,” she said, hugging me tightly.
“Be careful, mom,” I said, “I might still have some glass on my clothes.”
Remember to drive safe. Arriving safe is more important than not arriving at all. It’s not because you’re not a good driver, but because this country is full of asshole drivers!
Stay safe, everyone!