OUR car screeched to a halt and my eyes grew round in shock as I saw a trisikad ram straight towards the side of a panel truck we were closely following, missing our car by a few inches. One split second and the trisikad tumbled, throwing the driver and a little boy of about five years old to the pavement. The panel truck went on as though nothing happened.
Shock immobilized us but after a few seconds, my companion Manny and I bounded out of the car and headed towards the wrecked trisikad. Manny scooped up the little boy, blood and all, up to check on him. Luckily, aside from a few minor bruises, he was okay.
I stood rooted a few feet away, as though I were watching a horror movie unfold as the driver got up and examined the front wheel of his trisikad, not yet aware that his left hand, from the wrist down, was already severed from his arm and was tossed a few feet away from the crash site.
When the full impact of what happened hit the driver, whom I estimated to be in his early sixties, he looked at the garbled mass of nerves and flesh and blood at the stump that was supposed to be his left hand and panicked.
He screamed and ran towards us, then slumped on the ground frantically crying and asking us to tie his hand, afraid that he will die from loss of blood. The sight of the severed hand and so much blood unnerved me (to think that I took up nursing years ago!) to immobility.
I just stood and stared at him, at his hands and at the whole scene, unable to move until another man came to help. The newcomer untied a piece of rope from a post nearby and rushed to tie the upper portion of the driver’s hand. By this time, a crowd had already gathered. Sad to say that despite the crowd of “usiseros”, no one else helped the driver except the man who tied the driver’s stump of a hand with his hand towel.
We couldn’t stay long at the area because we were the nearest car to the site, and because a few specks of blood were on our bumper, people were already looking at us and concluded we were the one who hit the trisikad.
Minutes earlier, before we reached Mintal where the incident happened, we were noisily swapping stories as the car speedily ate up the kilometers (and I mean speedily that I was prompted to fasten my seatbelt, which I don’t normally do).
Jojo, our driver was deathly quiet as we proceeded to the city because just weeks ago, he hit a child who crossed the road without warning. Luckily, the kid survived but Jojo developed a trauma. I squirmed and tossed in bed that night, unable to sleep until my next-door neighbor got up at 5 a.m. to cook breakfast. I was haunted by the sight of severed hands and sticky blood.
I thought I had already gotten over the incident and forgiven myself but I was wrong. I was inside a fast food eating French fries a week later when I stopped, the piece of fries dipped in catsup suspended in mid-air. The catsup dripped on to the table, reminding me of the blood on the pavement.
I know that as long as I live, I could not forget the sight of that bloody, severed hand lifted towards my direction, asking for help yet I was unable to do anything.