Yesterday in the gym locker room a man fell down. I saw it happen from the moment he tripped (backwards), landing on the back of his head. The sound made my body scream. It all happened so fast and all of us who were there jumped towards him as he lay motionless on the ground; his eyes semi open, eyelids quivering, unblinking. Two of us ran upstairs towards the administrative desks, myself and a gym trainer, and the trainer being the faster one, sprinted past me shouting to his colleagues to call 911. It was a horrible accident that I had witnessed, and even today I haven’t been able to cast it from my mind.
I intended on writing something today, a short piece about gratitude since the year is closing out, but instead the accident kept reminding me of a story that my mother told me once about her train ride from Mozambique to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with my siblings who were babies and my grandfather (I wasn’t born yet). The train stopped part way through the trip, and she was escorted out, lead to an office nearby where she was stripped searched for God knows whatever reason. It was the 1970s and that part of Africa was experiencing so much political disturbance. Thankfully she wasn’t hurt and was lead back to the train to be with my siblings and grandfather.
I think about this story occasionally, not on purpose, but it comes to me like a whisper and then suddenly it vanishes. The thing is that I’ve held onto this story for a couple of days now and I’m not sure why. I wonder if things had gone differently when my mother got off the train, that my life today would have been different too… or, if I would even have been born. The story of the man falling in the locker room and my mother's train ride in East Africa are so disparate, so again, I can't find ways to link the two stories, but strangely I felt compelled to write about both of them within the same sitting.
I’m not a religious person but I prayed for the man at the moment of the accident. I prayed for him throughout the day, before I went to sleep last night, and then shortly before I wrote this. I’m not sure why because I don’t know him, but it was such a freak accident that I imagined it could have happened to anyone. I wonder if I’m so narcissistic to imagine that it could have happened to me as well.