a casuality without an accident

I’d speculated earlier that in a way, humanity is gasping for breath being swept around in a tsunami everyday (just a metaphor), but of course that’s probably not very easy to digest.

Most of us would hardly ever admit that there really is any real problem, esp if we have accumulated the opinion over age that “I’ve seen a lot of life, and there’s nothing more to learn”. Except maybe once in a way after some disaster when a dozen people die, or we lose someone very close to us… it exposes our real vulnerability. And even then, within a day or a week even that becomes a mere emotional memory having made no real difference to the way we live.

Though once in a way, I can see all this clearly, yet I’m so so helpless. Because you see, I myself am merely an amateur swimmer – a common man, there’s not much of a question of me helping anybody else!

——

Was returning home this evening in the company van. There was some mishap, and an altercation started between the driver and the other person. Usually these things last for a few seconds and they get on with it, but this time it seemed to go on for a couple of minutes.

Harsh abuses were being exchanged. They were taking turns, the driver shouted out his choicest terms on the man’s ancestral lineage, and when the motorist couldn’t take it anymore, he interrupted with an even more elequoent stream of words to the driver. It seemed like they were having a contest of sorts, apparently exploring different branches of their family trees. At some points in between their attacks, they seemed to be suddenly getting offended… “hey how could you call me a #&#& you &&*^*!!” and the other would retort “but you called me a $#@#$@, how about that!!”. In any case, it was getting uglier and uglier. Meaningless words but intentions were to hurt the other verbally as much as possible.

Five minutes.

I peeped further out of the window and saw the scooterist in question, having parked his scooter blocking the van, still with his helmet on – fiercely debating the legitimacy of the driver’s birth. There was another lady, which was a pretty strong guess was his wife, supporting him every now and then. At the side of the road which was a very busy intersection (near Mysore Bank).

And there, in the midst of it all this madness, was a wide-eyed absolutely terrified little boy, maybe 10 years of age.

Every now and then, it seemed as if the scooterist was about to leave, everything was almost over. Probably it had just been a close call as there didn’t seem to be any damage. But the driver simply had to add his one last word, and the scooterist immediately came back and started all over again, renewed with more anger! And then at some point one of them swiped at the other, and one grabbing at the other’s shirt – there was no real contact but it looked like they were about to get into a real physical fight, the driver was about to alight from the van.

The kid was on the verge of tears.

At this time I intervened – I suddenly stepped up to the driver telling him to resolve it and get on with it. He wasn’t bothered, and I said “look at that kid, don’t you see what effect this is all having on him!”. The driver was momentarily perplexed at this least unexpected interruption in his creative thought process of what he was going to abuse the scooterist next. He started shouting at me with all the respect he could muster (because obviously I was an employee of the organisation that had hired him!).

But then he quickly got back to the main fight, and they challenged each other into a call-the-police duel. They actually pulled in some hapless exasperated constable, for whom it seemed like the least important thing in his life and all he wanted to do was just finish his duty and go home.

I alighted from the van, and looked around. They seemed to be complaining to the cop like hurt children to a schoolteacher – on the lines of – “he called me a &*#$* and a #$*& how could he say that to ME…”

The lady was helping her husband intermittently in explaining the whole story to the cop. I asked her in an urgent voice “magu yelli?” (“where’s the kid?”)

Her aggressive mood suddenly changed to a moment of terror when she looked around. We were parked at the side of a big intersection, there was a continuos stream of chaotic traffic on all sides on the dimly lit road. But no kid. She fearfully repeated my question to her husband – “magu yelli???” The cop & the driver paused while the scooterist said “he’s there next to the scooter” pointing at the distance, where he’d parked the scooter at the side. The mother was relieved and got back to the argument. As I briskly walked towards the kid… the scooterist caught my arm asking me “tell me which company you’re working for?” And I replied “I want nothng to do with this, leave me out of it” and walked on towards the scooter in the distance.

There he was… tensely staring at the whole thing mutely. He looked up to me and pleaded “uncle, nammappange jagaLa aadbedi antha heLi” (Uncle, please tell my dad not to fight)

Suddenly I was overcome by emotion. I could really feel his suffering and took a few moments to fight back my tears. Does the next generation really need to inherit our ignorance?

I knelt down to his level to see him in his beautiful bright eyes, forced a smile and gave him a half hug, and said “oh don’t worry, these things are common on the road.” My forced smile turned into a real smile as I continued gently, ruffling his head… “see, how much traffic is there… so closely packed… something like this once in a way is almost inevitable, right?” He was with me… I continued… “All this fighting may just last for a while and its over, it dosen’t really mean anything”. More ideas were coming as I suddenly exclaimed… pointing at the continuos stream of fast traffic – bikes, cars, buses, trucks… “SEE!! Look at the traffic over here!! Just imagine what would’ve happened if any of those things had hit any of you!!!”. And almost shouted, I was overcome with love for him… such a wonderful, sensitive, innocent, bright boy. Wishing him happiness with all my heart, I exclaimed “YOU ARE THE LUCKIEST MAN IN THE WORLD!! You or your parents might’ve been badly injured… or lost life… what a situation that would’ve been… but you’re all safe now… Its just a fight thats all, there’s nothing to it! Half an hour and its over!”

He understood… and said somewhat less worriedly “thank you uncle”.

His mom returned to the scooter, she reminded me… “your van is leaving”. Sure enough, the fight was over. My van had started to turn into the traffic. The scooterist came too. He started to say something like “I’m your neighbour, my office is also next to …” but I interrupted “You’re all very very lucky, you’re all safe, nothing’s happened to any of you! Look… your son might’ve been badly injured or dead now, but look… he’s safe… that’s the most important thing!!!”. The lady wholeheartedly agreed … while I fled… just managed to jump into my van as it started to leave

In the van, the driver made no secret of his annoyance at my behaviour. He would’ve been happy to leave me behind, and stormed at me “who asked you to get off the van and interfere!” I told him placidly to just make sure we all get home safely. But he started to get more and more aggessive at me and went on and on. I told him in a stern voice that his only job was to get us home safely and I didn’t want to hear anything more from him. He started murmuring something and one of my colleagues started to support me. I told my colleague its ok, he’s stressed out, let him express himself a bit. My colleague disagreed saying “we must teach him how to talk to employees!” but I gently insisted he take it easy. Sure enough, in a few moments the driver became silent and drove safely.

I have no clue who’d won the street fight. Maybe both sides had thought they’d won and taught the other a lesson. But who cares?

This had been quite a strange situation. No accident, and yet a casuality – a psychological casuality that nobody might ever know about – that little boy who might have nightmares about the whole thing.

Hmm… maybe it was one of those rare occasions when I actually managed to do something useful 😉

11 Responses to “a casuality without an accident”

  1. Vani Says:

    Good going, Sanjay….

    I appreciated your priority towards the child. Adallade summne haLe kaaladavru gaade maadilla “Appa Ammana JagaLa dalli Koosu badavaayithu”

    Incidentally today RB was also speaking about a related topic on his show….how children from broken families are very easily led astray, and who actually is responsible for their behavior.

    We all owe it to the future generation to inculcate good values and lead responsible lives.

  2. msanjay Says:

    We all owe it to the future generation to inculcate good values and lead responsible lives.

    This is a really great statement Vani! Definitely much better than the conventional “we owe it to the future generation to teach them good values and lead responsible lives” :mrgreen:

  3. Suresh Panje Says:

    Well, “Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything”. Thus read the message painted in most of the BTC and BTS buses in B’lore in the late 50s and early 60s. And I still remember them the very moment my temper rises.
    Leave alone this adage painted in the BTS buses, it is worthwhile to recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi who said: It is strange how man finds time to hate whereas the life itself is too short to love.

  4. praneshachar Says:

    sanjay
    amazing when parents were busy with driver in fight and excange of words you went to their child and made him comfortable and definetely it will go a long way in soothing his otherwise a real confused state of mind and I am sure your gesture will go long way in heeling his psychological strees and he will think something else. As you said if something tragic happens all will be diverted to that if nothing happens this sort dual will start.
    patience pays life is short make it sweet
    to preach it is easy to practaice it is difficult!!!!!!

  5. msanjay Says:

    Thanks Suresh and this is a beautiful quote:

    It is strange how man finds time to hate whereas the life itself is too short to love.

    Thank you Praneshacharavare… you’re absolutely right!

  6. preethi Says:

    A very nice post…
    Your reaction to the whole situation is very thoughtful..Most of the times people around just watch the show of hurling abuses and not do anything constructive.

  7. msanjay Says:

    heh heh thanks preethi… usually I’m also one of those people who just watch but only on exceptions like this probably when there are kids involved I try to do something.

  8. Suhas Kulkarni Says:

    Sanjay….. That’s quite nicely articulated incident! I read your other articles too and most of them are quite interesting.Keep it up!

  9. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    very happy you were there for the kid. if i were in the kid’s place, i would have told, “uncle, naanu nimma jothe barthini.”

    good job sanju. proud of you.

  10. Venkat Says:

    Good one Sanjay. I really enjoy reading the way you express/narrate your incidents..

  11. msanjay Says:

    Suhas, thanks – nice to hear from you!

    Ha ha Bellur… wonder what I would’ve done 🙂

    Thanks Venkat!

Leave a Reply