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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Fear that spoke

They say “Our fears are more numerous than our dangers, and we suffer more in our imagination than in reality.”  They say “Dangers bring fears and fears more dangers bring”. I understood what they meant by these, two months ago.
I was driving my car to home when I experienced something that, I believe, I will never forget, certainly not in this life. I was worn out by the day’s activities and I felt like I could drive no further. My eyes were too drowsy to be alert. “Only 30minutes more to reach my bed”, I consoled myself. It was 9:00pm that I left my office for home and the never-sleeping city of Mumbai seemed busier today with streets flooded with legion vehicles. Its then I realized that it was a Friday night, the most awaited night of the week, when we find relief in the fact that we do not have to wake up early morning the next day, the night we enjoy to the fullest.
Life has been hectic since the last couple of weeks for me due to my recent promotion at work and I have forgotten to enjoy life ever since. Even the idea of tomorrow’s holiday does not give me any pleasure as it reminds me of the pile of files, lying on the backseat of my car, I have to read at home. At this thought I heaved a sigh and turned my head to throw the files a look of abhorrence. I saw a couple on a scooter behind my car and they seemed to be in a rush. I turned my car a little to the left to show them my abdication from the road race so that they can move ahead.
While they travelled past my car I noticed that the person on the backseat of the scooter was a woman; but not an ordinary woman, she carried a life in her womb. The sight literally made me smile and gave me the thought of my husband asking me yesterday if I was ready for a baby, our first one. My smile faded right away as I realized my answer to that divine question was a loud and clear “No”, all because of my job, my career. Sometimes I wonder if having a bright career actually gives me satisfaction.
The couple moved some metres further from my car by now. I looked at the couple, they seemed bliss. The face of the lady seemed so innocuous that one could easily confuse her to be a baby. The tenderness of her touch on the person’s shoulder told me that he is her husband, the father of the bundle of joy within her womb. The serenity of her face told me that they might be just in a hurry to head home early and there’s no other emergency. I wondered if my slow and unwary driving made it longer, for me, to reach home. I have been being a careless driver, while returning home, since the day my encumbrance of responsibility increased at work.
 At this point, we reached a road crossing and the traffic light shone red, signaling us to stop our vehicles. I stopped the car’s engine straight away like I always do. My drowsiness wondered if sleeping a little on the steering wheel of the car would do me any harm. The part of me, which was awake, rejected this proposal on the spot.  I looked ahead to find two cars and that scooter in my queue. I could see that none of these vehicles had their engines stopped. I could sense wastefulness in the vicinity- either they were wasting fuel or I was wasting my time in stopping and restarting the vehicle. The scooter was in the forefront and all set to move ahead as soon as the signal turns green.
 I looked at the traffic light which was now yellow. I lazily started the engine of my car and after a second or two, the light turned green and what happened after that changed my manner of driving and my way of looking at life forever.
The driver of that scooter was in such haste that as soon as the light turned green, he pressed the accelerator and drove ahead. But the driver of the truck crossing our road had not been looking at the traffic light with kid gloves. I cried in fear that an accident is about to occur right now. The drivers of the other cars shouted waving their hands at the truck and the scooter, indicating them to stop. I was speechless with shock and so was the woman on that scooter. I shut my eyes in fear and so did someone else too. But the intensity of the fear of that someone was so high that she wailed a cry of fear so loud that it could break the sky. At once I opened my eyes only to see her lying on the road and people running towards her.
 It so happened that the drivers of the scooter and the truck had pressed their brakes in the nick of time, so that the front wheel of the scooter barely touched the bumper of the truck. But the fear of being killed, the fear of losing the baby, the fear of getting smashed by the gigantic vehicle, the fear of being tossed in the air by the force made the woman to jump from the backseat of the moving scooter.
 And now she lied, on the road, unconscious.
We sprinkled water on her face but in vain. A person wearing a red turban checked her pulse and shook his head looking at her husband’s face. Grimace on the latter’s face spoke that he was torn between hating himself for the incident and reacting at the incident, at what happened. I wished to tell him that it was not his fault, that it was her fear that let this to happen. But the cause of the fear was the negligence of both the drivers and that could not be enshrouded. And what I saw after that, told me that there’s no point giving judgments now, there’s no point analyzing the incident now, there’s no point telling what could have happened or what could have been prevented when the destruction has been done already, when two lives have left this earth leaving behind the poor thing crying on the road divider and kicking his scooter, when the road divider is telling him that his morbid life is now divided into two- angelic memories and an intolerable pain.
I stood there, in a trance, staring at that lonely helpless creature who was happy minutes ago and who now lies on the road wailing and trembling in pain soothed by one person standing near him and another person making calls from his phone for assistance while a car took the corpse to a nearby hospital; a bootless attempt, a false hope, a delusive solace…