Instead of risking huge problems with over-extending our moped rental and carrying on to Arugum Bay -and considering the weather- we busted a move back for Hikkadua, to drop the bike off and catch a bus up to Kandy.
We wanted to cross the south coast as fast as possible, so it meant a lot of driving. We were about 2 hours shy of Hikkadua when the rain started again. Been driving for about 3 or 4 straight. The rain wasn’t too bad, so we pushed forward and dealt with it all in T-shirts.
I am pretty focused on the road, and moving at a decent pace -on the little junker. I’m wiping rain from the helmet visor, and basically just a machine with my head down racing against the daylight hours and our hopes to get a bus in the evening. There is a Tuk-Tuk in front of us. He’s moving along like all the other vehicles, tractors and bicycles. I guess I’d say I was about the length of another Tuk-Tuk behind him when he decided to change his direction completely.
This genius of a man pulls a huge U-turn, really wide, without taking into consideration I’m headed straight for him. Not the most dexterous vehicle, the Tuk-Tuk; this thing takes a while to make it around. The guy is crossing straight through the lane and I become fully aware that we are going to T-bone if I don’t do something.
I squeeze the breaks -which have had better days- like the last of goon wine out of a plastic sack; like the last of water from a satchel mid-afternoon in the Kimberleys; like the last of vino tinto from a Bota at 3 a.m.
My life is flashing before my eyes, and fear has streamed straight through my body. I already envision the results of this mayhem about to take place.
I see clear as day, my body shooting straight through the Tuk-Tuk, out the other side and then rolling along the cement highway. And not only my body, but Lisa’s behind me, flying as well, and neither one of us standing up on our own afterwards.
This guy will watch the whole thing happen in slow-motion and then realise his stupidity afterwards, only to shrug his shoulders and carry on, leaving us on the road until someone finally calls an ambulance for us.
The fear that shoots through me is a fear that I’ve felt but a few times in my life, and this time it wasn’t only my life in the fold, but as well my beautiful partner who’s put her life in my hands -and I’ve let her down.
Inches before the bike hits the Tuk-Tuk, I bend the steering, in my last attempt to stop the momentum of our bike hitting the little boxcar straight on, and it’s just enough to prevent a magnum situation for the two of us; just enough to morph a disaster into a simple ‘fender bender’ for a lack of better words.
See, the brakes were so shit, they didn’t quite stop us, not to mention the wet road, and wet wheels, but it slowed us down just enough that when I bent the handle bar to the right I nudged the Tuk-Tuk with no more than the impact of a half-decent punch -with my body and the body of the bike.
Problem is, the adrenaline from all the fear was already well on its way through my body, and this fear changed to anger. And when this guy tries to take off, and after I’ve fallen off the side of the bike, I get up and grab the first thing I can, to throw at him -my helmet.
‘Where the fuck you think you’re going, asshole!’
Traffic has stopped all around us, and people are watching, and I have absolutely no idea about any of it. This fear that I’ve been overcome by, this urge for me to protect my ‘wife’, to make sure she is safe; this fear that she might be hurt or would have been hurt has my blood boiling and when the helmet launches across the little highway lanes, I don’t even realise what I’m doing until its all over.
Sure, he shouldn’t have pulled the U-ee, and he certainly should have waited til we crossed his path before taking it. He could have taken into consideration it was raining, and that we were on a junker moped that was worth less than a pack of gum, but he didn’t -and why would he? (hindsight is 20/20)
And he probably figured he’d make it, or that I’d be able to break on a dime.
He stops his car, and gives a look like,
‘What’s up? There’s nothing wrong. You’re fine, I’m fine. Everyone’s fine. What’s the problem?’
Problem is, you almost caused my girlfriend to get seriously injured -and myself. Problem is, you didn’t think about the consequences of your actions. Problem is, I am scared as fuck and have lost control.
The police arrive on the scene, and I’m thinkin,
‘Put that man in handcuffs!’
They don’t, of course, and once they realise that we are fine (the tourists), he moves on the man and we climb back on the bike and keep pushin er, for Hikkadua before sunset.
My nerves are trembling the rest of the way, and I’m completely silent until we arrive. These feelings that I’ve just gone through, rare feelings, I am juggling with my perspective on how I feel about having some responsibility in taking Lisa with me, along these antics of mine.
It’s all good and fine if I hurt myself. And I certainly had in the past. And put myself in a few near death situations, for example: stuck on a mountain face, 2000 m up, on a ledge with nothing more than small jugs to hold onto and nought gear to down-climb an amateur scale but, nonetheless a stupid one in skate shoes. What if she fell, and died? Her blood would be on my hands.
These choices I take, they are no longer affecting me alone. They are affecting my lover, and I don’t know how to feel about this at all.
Eventually, the fear subsides and we arrive in Hikkadua, drop the bike off -and I smart-ass about the brakes once or twice- then we put steam into it, to reach the bus station. The bus comes soon after, and it’s only minutes before it arrives that Lisa and I finally start to argue about all the things that are wrong with us, and all the expectations of our humanity pour out, and she’s near tears and I’m nearly ready to run in the opposite direction, to another part of the country and hide in a cave to get away.
Well. It can’t always be blue skies and lollipop dreams. And the sun always sets, and rises again in the morning.