Ajibola Lawal
Oct 1 · 5 min read

Blood On A Run

Out of habit, my body usually slowly wakes me up around 4 in the morning without an alarm. There is an abruptness to alarms that I hate, hence why I stopped using them unless absolutely necessary.

I have spent a good amount of this year, on the road. And this is asides sharing time across both my homes. A part of me enjoys it.

I have not gone on a run in nearly 2 years. However, I have I tried to stay fit with varying amounts of success, in other ways.

When I used to run, I enjoyed making sure I am done running before dawn. There is a certain kind of peace to the stillness that this time of the day brings. You jog between 5 and 6am, and you can feel the energy of the people who are affronted by the fact that you’re not trudging into a day of drudgery like they are.

Usually when I work out at my second home, I knock out all the noise of the early morning with my headphones. But there is something about the sound of the muezzin, Diesel generators and the cars humming past you that is peaceful. So I go without music.

A few minutes in, and I can already feel my thighs burning and I haven’t even hit the first mile yet. But I keep pushing. I have never compared notes with other runners, but I assume it’s because of the pain that we do it, right?

There is something about training that never leaves you. It is not so much about the skills you pick up. It is really about training your intuition. I would have missed the distinct sound of the idling of a Benz engine if I had had my headphones on. And this is what has made the difference.

Even though I had heard the stories. There is something about being human that makes us doubt or if we are to be honest, hope that the stories we have heard, are not true. Like the stories, it IS a Mercedes 190. I quicken my pace into almost a sprint. My heart beats faster. But nothing happens, as I jog past. I count three figures in the idling car, asides the driver.

The man who taught me Jujitsu would exhaust me with bodyweight exercises, over and over until I could almost not lift myself again. It was then and only then, that we would begin to practice Katas and techniques. I hated it. He was of the opinion that the exhaustion one feels, is similar to what you would experience in a fight. I disagree because this has never mirrored my experience. I am the type whose body floods with adrenaline to the point of shaking.

So I begin to shake. I run past the idling dark car and nothing happens. I slow down a bit, shake my head and chuckle at the thought of the effects that paranoia has, on our assessment of situations.

I hear the sound of an engine again. It’s a Toyota. I slow a little. They drive past. At this point, I am considering turning to go back home, instead of triggering fear every time a car zips past me. I am thinking this when I hear another car. It is moving faster than it should at this time, and on this road. I recognise the sound of the engine.

I would be lying if I didn’t volunteer that I have practiced these movements. I can hear my trainers’ voices.

You have more than one assailant.

Always disable the ones you cannot see.

No matter how muscled a person is, their joints are vulnerable.

I feel the breeze as the car whizzes past, as it stops right in front of me, and tilts to the left a little to block me. Two people jump out from the back of the car. The closest to me is holding a baton. I should turn and run in the opposite direction. I run toward him.

His hand is raised, and he will hit my head. There is a split second where I see that while he has expected resistance, he was not prepared that I would run toward him. I swipe hard at the wrist on his raised hand.

You see, what movies don’t tell you about wielding knives, is that to cut human flesh is a messy act. And it’s hard. Your knife won’t go through like it is butter.

So yes. I had heard the stories. My first day running again in 2 years, I had strapped a dagger to my forearm. While I take urban legend stories with a pinch of salt, I always leave room for doubt. I never believed that the doubt was warranted.

He shouts as his blood splatters.

E GET KNIFE O!

His hand is still high so some of it gets on my face. I swipe again and again. Forearm of the same hand. Neck. The neck is more difficult and I may have gotten a tendon rather than what I truly wanted.

The other guy — I thought he was a guy — had gotten around the back of the car by now. I can see now, that he has a machete. I run toward. And I kick his shin. I was aiming for a knee. But I am tall, and I will take what I can get. It is when I hear his shout that I realise it is a woman.

I swipe at the hand with the cutlass. And once across her chest. I wanted one across the neck. But the driver realises there is a problem and reverses suddenly. He hits this woman. She’s nudged really hard. I see an opening.

I run.

I hear Mr. Aramide’s and Ugo’s voices.

Run. Always run.

Everything you learn, is so that you can make an opening enough so that you can run.

There is blood in my left eye. I run with one eye open. I can’t even shout for help. I can’t look back. I just run.

I continue jogging home. The adrenaline is still pumping. I am shaking. I need a shower. I am going to hate burning my favorite jogging clothes.

My mind is zipping about. I remember that a few days ago, people. were sharing on Twitter, the last straws, that made them move away from Nigeria. I test my mental barriers. I am not there yet. I must be crazy.

I am almost home, and I feel silly now. If my assailants had guns, the story would totally different. Maybe there wouldn’t even be a story.

I am angry. I am sad, and almost despondent. I am also a little relieved. This used to be my baby brother’s route, and he used to jog around this time too. He’s in Lubbock now. Better me, than him.

I don’t know if I will be able to run again for awhile. I was lucky this time.

    Ajibola Lawal

    Written by

    Heir apparent.

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