I had just passed a happy Laotian wedding party.
Held in the cordoned part of a side-street that evening: tarpaulin, tables of food and drink and smiling, seated guests, others dancing to the band beside a stack of huge speakers, been offered a glass of Beer-Lao by a guest.
AND THEN – 100 meters later a young girl running; her agonized shrieking alarming.
Next second I knew why she was so hysterical.
Accident; just happened. Shit.
Us first on the scene – more people running towards the carnage now.
Two bloody bodies collapsed on motorbike; the front of this small truck massively punched in and windscreen scattered – fallen out in a collective web.
Front passenger sitting, staring into space – not moving like attempting to flush out this bad dream, blood streaming down his serious, statue face.
On the road below neither men wear helmets; one is fucked and the other is dead.
Reality is suspended in movie surrealism
Frantic, tortured hush of blood and impending death. In these seconds I am helpless – I don’t want to move the injured; surely his back’s broken; I can’t speak Lao; wish I was a doctor – as others arrive.
More people gather shocked, stunned, others frantic in action as Lao men lift the bloody bodies onto the back of the truck and then someone gets into the passenger seat and proceeds to drive towards hospital …
I wander into the quieter, calmer night, stunned, as thoughts on the philosophy of life and death tease me.
Just months ago during my hazardous journeys across West Africa on the back of taxi-motorbikes for hours traveling terrible rural or jungle trails – across Togo, Guinea and Sierra Leone – I had wondered when this would happen to me?
There had been so much great accident potential: the near-miss trucks; skidding on steep rocky paths; sliding into mud bogs; nearly-hitting livestock and people; and the constant danger of being humped-off the back of the bouncing bike.
Where is the luck to avoiding death?
What is the logic that determines when one is to be consumed by death?
And when, is it my turn, to die?