A short story
Ringing Mother’s Words…!
It is early morning. A cloud of frost swathes Asmara in and around. But it is no hurdle for our Ephrem, Stephanus, Said, Irgalem, Simon and Ali to get onto their race cycles for a morning practice. These children have been strong contenders for the ensuing national level cycle race for quite sometime now. But, Ephrem’s mother has her usual worries about their safety. For she knows that cycling on the roads of Asmara is fraught with risk, and sometimes risk for their life itself.
Ephrem’s Mother Senait said, “My dear Ephrem, be careful, the other day Solomon, our neighbor’s son, narrowly escaped an accident that could have proved fatal”.
But Ephrem had a different perspective of his mother’s apprehension. He thinks that out of usual love for him as a mother she is assuming too much about the risk in cycling race during mornings. To him it is indeed not that risky exercise, as her mother often tends to counsel him.
“Do not worry .I shall see to my safety and to my friends too”, replied Ephrem quite confidently
With these words, bidding ‘bye’ to his mother, Ephrem zoomed ahead on his cycle and his friends followed suit.
It is not yet a bright morning. It is just beginning to break open from darkness. Sun hasn’t struck the Horizon. There are still streetlights glowing over Asmara Streets. Except morning joggers here and there, there is not much traffic. Occasionally a vehicle zooms past them.
Ephrem picked up terrible speed. For sometime, he appeared to have borne his mother’s words in his mind. But soon the spirit of race in him overcame them. Ephrem is speeding further his cycle. Not to be outwit by him, his friends one after another started closing in. It is indeed a look-alike race. Said, Stephanus, Ali had almost crossed Ephrem and speeded ahead. Irgalem, Solomon however preferred to go by Ephrem’s mother’s words All are shouting and racing ahead breaking the early morning silence and peace.
Pulling all his strength, Ephrem unleashed himself in speeding up further. But his speed started terrifying his friends.
Irgalem is shocked at this and she wants to alert him to control himself.
“Ephrem, Ephrem”—Irgalem started shouting—“ keep yourself, do not go that high speed, listen what your mother told in the morning”.
But Ephrem is no longer in the reach of Irgalem’s words. She immediately alerted Solomon to speed up himself forward further to close in on Ephrem and rein him under control.
“Ephrem”, “Ephrem”—slow down yourself, slow please, I wish to talk to you. But Ephrem is hardly in their reach by now.
Unaware of what is in store that morning, a man came out in his new and posh Toyota car to go to Keren in the early hours of the day. He is listening to the music in high pitch, is very much engrossed in it. He is sure that there would be hardly any traffic that time and he can just zoom the car. He has already crossed a number of red signals at several squares on the either side of Asmara main road, down Bademeskaram. His vehicle is at its peak in speed.
At the same time, Solomon alerted his other friends who by now have fallen behind Ephrem, “Hey, my friends, somehow shout and stop Ephrem. He is going too fast not expected of now.”
All slowed down their cycling leaving it to its best for Ephrem. But Ephrem continued to speed up further and soon vanished from their sight in a jiffy.
Suddenly they heard a shriek sound a sudden crashing of an object or a sound of collision.
They got flustered at once. Fear gripped them. Each looked at the other with awe and puzzle on the face. They ran quickly towards the direction of the sound they heard. To their surprise they found, Ephrem being lifted physically from the road to the pavement by the passers by. For a moment, their blood froze, and their hearts stopped beating. With a deep panic and fear they rushed to him and looked at him. He is still breathing, though grievously wounded on his shoulders and legs.
The fault is obviously with the driver of the vehicle. He sped it past the red light thinking that there was none to cross the by-lane at that time, when Ephrem found green-signal ideal for him to speed ahead across. He just emerged from the by-lane to the main road. Finish. A head on collision. Ephrem’s life is in risk whereas vehicle driver’s life is not in risk. Ephrem’s mother’s words kept ringing in the ears of all, including Ephrem.
“See what a problem Ephrem invited to himself. God save his life”, muttered his friends Simon, Solomon, Irgalem.
This story was originally written by me for Bana Radio of Department of Adult and Media Education, Ministry of Education, Government of Eritrea, Asmara, Eritrea where I was an Assistant Professor and Media Expert for two years 2003-2005. The story was broadcast in December 2004.