Actually I wrote this article for Blogadda's contest on 'Soldier for Women' and missed the due date. The other participants actually got lucky :-P Anyway here goes...
It was a pleasant Sunday evening. My mother, the single alto singer in a choir that comprised of at least fifteen soprano voices, never missed the choir practice at 4:00p.m. My father always dropped her at the church premises before time, parked the car, and went walking. He would walk around one hour, come back and wait for her, reading his favorite Reader’s Digest. The choir practice usually went on for an hour and a half. I never made calls to her mobile at this time, mainly because the choir master hated mobile phones, and also because my mother was not an expert in setting it to silent mode.
One Saturday, I called my mother casually and she mentioned about the charitable concert their choir was about to conduct and how the choir master made the attendance of all singers mandatory. She went on to explain how annoying the he had become over the week, due to the upcoming concert and related pressure. She spoke like a child, scared of her new teacher. Then she said, ‘But Papa has to go to see his mother tomorrow. It is important. He tells me to go in an auto’ she paused and took a deep breath.
Then she continued with an unexpected energy, out of the blue ‘May be I will drive to church tomorrow!’
‘But Mummy you haven’t driven in a long time’, I elaborated my concern.
‘So what, it is not a peak hour, and there is not much traffic’ she retorted.
Papa was hesitant in the beginning, but later decided to go with her decision. Miles away, I cut the call and sat disturbed in my hostel room. To be honest, Mummy drove like crazy. She bakes the yummiest cakes, stitches her own dresses, makes stunning bridal bouquets and flower arrangements, but when it comes to driving she is definitely not the best. ‘People learn through experience. Unless you drive on your own, alone, it is not possible to face the road’ said my hostel-mate just for the sake of saying.
On Sunday evening, around 4:00 p.m. my mobile rang. It was Mummy, and she squealed in delight to say that she reached safely, and that the car was parked parallel to another one, in the same compound. She also told me not to call her for another two hours, as the choir master was already angry at a few people who hadn't turned up. After this call, I got lost in my routine hostel activities.
Around 9:00 pm I called Papa to know whether he reached home, when my call reached a rather noisy place. ‘Hello? Where are you? Why aren’t you home already?’ I asked in a single breath.
Papa said, ‘We are at a hospital here. Mummy met with a small accident…’ he paused.
‘WHAT!’ I screamed.
Papa continued, ‘Mummy is fine. As she was driving back after choir practice, her car hit a two wheeler. A young guy who was riding it fell down. He is also fine now, we are going home. Mummy is paranoid, we will call you tomorrow’.
The next day as soon as I woke up I grabbed my mobile and dialed Mummy. Mummy answered my call in a voice which clearly sounded like she cried herself to sleep the previous day. ‘Mummy!’ I said.
She narrated the incident like this.
“Yesterday, I was driving home after choir and had reached halfway when there was a left turn. I switched on my indicator, honked a little bit, and turned just like the vehicle in front of me, when I heard a loud thud on the side of our car. I stopped immediately, and so did all other cars behind me. Some people came running at that point and many others on the other side of the road also came running. Next I know, some onlookers were banging on my window, using abusive words, telling me to come outside. I was numb, shivering and completely oblivious of what happened. I saw people trying to open my side of the door angrily. My hands sweated and heart beat faster. I felt like I was losing my eyesight as everything was blurred. Then I slowly slid into the passenger seat in front and got out through that side, as some angry people were standing near the driver’s side of the car. I saw a young man on the pavement, unconscious, and a scooter lying next to him. It was then that it occurred to me, that I was responsible for the life of this man. He looked hardly 27. At least 50 people had gathered around our car, a traffic block was thus created and there was noise and havoc. I still dint know what to do, as fifty pairs of eyes were on me, and none on the victim who lay on the pavement. I froze.
Suddenly an auto rickshaw drove into the scene and its driver walked out straight to the victim. He checked the young guy and screamed ‘He is alive..!’ and lifted him with difficulty. None of the onlookers helped, neither did I! The driver put the young guy at the back seat of our car, strode to the driver seat and started the car! I stood watching, when he yelled ‘Madam what are you looking at? GET INSIDE!’ I quickly got into the front seat and that guy sped through the streets honking like crazy, signaling emergency. I called Papa and mumbled something. He drove to the nearest hospital. The driver stopped at the porch, called the staff of the hospital and put the guy on the stretcher and rolled it into Casualty section. The driver accompanied me as we walked towards the Casualty section, and a doctor emerged. They exchanged certain details, while I answered Papa’s call as he was on the way back, and I told him the hospital name. As I cut Papa’s call and turned, the driver was gone. I ran to the porch where our car was parked, and the security said that the driver had parked the car in the hospital parking area, and handed over the keys to me. I ran to the hospital entrance and searched every possible place, but he was gone. The doctor emerged from the casualty after an hour, during which Papa also managed to reach as we waited with bated breaths.
“Good that you brought him here at the right time… that guy is perfectly fine and he can go home tomorrow” said the doctor. Soon, an old lady and a pregnant woman reached the corridor where we were, and a nurse told us that it was the mother and wife of the accident victim. They did not recognize us. If not for the help and presence of mind of that auto driver, this mother would have lost her son, and a young woman, her husband. It would have changed their lives and mine, forever, for worse.
This auto driver, who stood up for my mother who was in a helpless situation, is a real soldier. The world needs more people like him. For me, he is a faceless and nameless person, who dint even stop to be recognized for his good deed.
When the whole world prefers to point fingers and accuse, there are this few who actually make us believe that humanity still exists, at least in traces.