How much for ‘life’?
Today marks a month’s time since the ‘incident’ took place. I haven’t had the courage to admit it or even write it down by re-sequencing the incidents in my mind. However, I felt the need to get this out of my system. So, here goes nothing. Hopefully this recollection evokes the apropos emotion in me or anyone who reads it.
It was Friday. The blank page in you (diary) marks the epochal day. I had planned to de-stress myself and embark on a bike ride to nearby foothills. Less did I know what was in store for me. My Facebook post had attracted the wanderlusts of the city and I enlisted 3 of them to join me. And then there were four. I had wanted to get away from the bustling city life. I felt the place to be suffocating and had been craving for a timeout to enjoy the calm, surreal beauty and peaceful nature.
It was about 5'o’ clock in the evening when we started off. We had hoped to segue through to the peak but were in for a surprise when the traffic played spoil sport and felt it to be foreboding. On the contrary, everything wasn’t morose. I had an instant crush on Maya(Oh! the irony), beauty on a bike, I used to call her, blissfully unaware of my thoughts and the impending future. She was in for proving her worth to the gang who had ousted her after her recent road mishap, which in her terms was apparently not her fault. (Girl driving a bike?! maybe I’m being too judgmental) She was accompanied by Pecker, Ramnathan David Pecker but he preferred Pecker as it sounded ‘hip’. (whatever that is.. my waist! Thanks!, thus hails the poor jokes King!). He, as one would expect was an overprotective boyfriend of hers who adulated her. (Let’s see who adulates whom after the turn of events, shall we?). The last one was a typical stereotype. An IT professional, a loner with a new bike of his wanting to ‘get out and foray into the unknown’ (in his very own words) and his name was Mubaarak. (Congratulations for what!?, the first word which his parents would have thought of on him being born, given to their kid! This world…. *sigh*). Lastly, the teller of this story, the perfect embodiment of crazy yet subtle, charming yet depressed, intelligent but stupid, Me! All these thoughts cruising through my head as we waited helplessly for the traffic to clear and that we could hit the highway to hell. (Oh! that’s where the phrase comes from..)
It was about 6pm odd, when we had managed to swerve through traffic and hit the first milestone of the highway. The desired location was 60 miles away. A slight haze had set in and powerful bulbs of our motorcycles were tearing through the diaphanous cover. The heavy air cooling down the searing heat of the engines resulting in the low humdrum of the engines, felt like music to the ears and I was lost in transcendental time, appreciating all the small yet ephemeral events ongoing around me. Maya was busy recording her Vlog and Mubaarak trying to video-bomb it occasionally, whereas Pecker was imitating the famous TV journalist to provide live coverage for her Vlog, and this had kept them busy till we hit the 31st milestone.
Even though ‘31' doesn’t bode any evil, it surely did seem to welcome one that day. Maya was the first one to notice an obscured thing curled up at the side of the road around a gracious bend to the left through her camera. The sun was setting and it seemed that nature wanted to play the irony card that day by portraying a beautiful sunset. As the last rays of sun escaped to the horizon to give a black to golden red gradient, welcoming the onset of evil. All along we had been taught not to touch or go near an alien or strange object. However, curiosity did kill the cat that day (Another source of phrase!). We slowed down sidelining on the road to get a glimpse at the obscure object but at the same time didn’t turn off the engines just so that we can make a run for it if required be.
At first, our imagination tried running wild like a street dog on a leash as our brains wanted to conjure up otherworldly objects but was being dragged by the harsh reality. We had a precarious feeling which we couldn’t shake off. Just then Maya’s visceral reactions kicked in; looking at it and realizing what was going on, tears started crawling out. Pecker had just peered over the curled up object and saw a person covered in blood, and dark red ominous blood gushing out of 3 deep cuts under his navel. I had heard stories of such incidents and even seen movies but never did I imagine that I would witness one. Thus, I stood stupefied as if a spell were cast on me, contemplating reality and nightmare. Mubaarak showed a better presence of mind than us and removed his jacket to cover up the human curled up in pain, still wondering if he was alive or dead.
The shrill cry, a mix of pain and anger tore through our heads as the person woke with a start and cried, “Leave you idiots! I don’t need your help. Save yourselves!”,tears trickling down his chin. As he sat up, the blood gushed out like a tilted fountain and found its way through the cracks and uneven gravel of the road. I found myself helpless yet again just about when I was trying to recuperate from shock.
The grand battle of emotions took place. All our lives we had been taught that morale thing to do is to help out a person in need but never had we been taught what to do when the person in need defers from being helped. However, my instinct took over and decided to help him out nonetheless and face whatever he was warning against later. I instructed Maya and Pecker to go out in search of a nearby hospital and call an ambulance. Hearing this, Mubaarak took out his phone and dialed for police. One would think the worst was behind us, on the contrary it was yet to come.
The time had grown wings of its own and had been somewhere around 7:30pm when we observed that the the highway was deserted save for the occasional cars & trucks zooming past us. There were just two shops in the vicinity as far as our eyes could reach. One had it’s shutter down and the other was about to close as it was highly unlikely that one would get customers once the sun sets. However, Maya ran to him and asked for the nearest hospital. The shopkeeper sputtered reluctantly that it was about 7–8kms further down the road. On pleading further, he rudely smashed down the shutters on her face and refused to help. Judging by the incapacitated person’s appearance we concluded that he wouldn’t hold on long. Meanwhile, Pecker had phoned the ambulance but it had kept ringing without any answer. He tried the emergency number relentlessly to no luck. I can’t begin to understand as to what could one be doing more worthwhile than attending an emergency call.
As things were starting to look bleak, a dim light from an incandescent bulb drew my attention. We were just standing just opposite a police station without us realizing it during the chaotic turn of events. With a momentary heave of sigh, we stormed into the police station and thumped on the desk to call out for help. An inspector, semi clad, buttoning up his shirt in the wrong hole walked in as if he had been the one to go through hell. He shouted at the top of his heavy voice, “What the hell do you lads want at this ungodly hour?”. We were quick to explain the situation to him and were on the brink of wailing. On hearing us out, instead of taking ready action, he calmly settled himself down behind a desk and started bombarding us with questions which we had least expected. Some of the questions to my recollection had been:
What is the purpose of your visit here?
Why did you stop when you saw the object?
Whereabouts of the other two.
Where are you hailing from?
Your relation to the victim?
How did you know that were deep gashes under his navel?
How could you prove that you hadn’t committed the heinous act and were reporting it?
Victim’s name and whereabouts?
Lastly why had the victim turned down your offer for help which makes you look as if you had committed the act and were covering it up
The cross questioning and interrogation had left us bewildered at the end. We blabbered our way past it. However, the one nagging thought even while the interrogation was going was that the person was lying on the pavement without any help whatsoever. Instead of helping him out the police inspector was getting involved in what seemed like wanton questioning. At the end of the grueling session, he stated that if we wanted help from the police he would have to file a case against us and would have stay back to give him our first report incident statements. Last but not the least, we would have stay in jail overnight as a possible suspect to homicide. I vividly remember a trickle escaping and making a blotch on my underwear at the very mention of the word ‘jail’. Judging by the look on the Mubaarak’s face, even he didn’t seem very enthusiastic about the suggestion made. We pleaded help to at least get that guy to a hospital but he stuck to his ground and said that we would require an official printed paper to allow his admission into hospital due to suspicious circumstances. Having had tried to our fullest, we walked out hastily hoping that the other two would have managed to find some help just to find to our dismay that they were seated near the injured person dangling their hands in shame.
On reaching them, Maya started crying and hugged me and opened what seemed like a dam behind her eyes. Even though the warmth felt comforting but my brains were thundering to rustle up some idea to help the person out. Her presence around me, calmed me down for a bit and that’s exactly when it occurred to me to try and stop the ongoing vehicles for help. What followed jolted us into the bitter reality. I would have jumped in front of about easily 20–25 vehicles but none would stop. Everyone would just swerve past us sensing the impending danger, or some were busy being pleasured by someone, or some being busy on the phone, or some had to attend an urgent meeting at 8:30pm, or some were late for dinner and all kinds of unimaginable excuses. Even our bribes didn’t seem to fare too well for anyone to help us out. As our hopes were waning away, so was the life from the injured person. He called out to us and as we huddled around him, I witnessed the most beatific all-knowing smile on his face. The words dripped out of his mouth as he said, “See what comes of helping strangers.” “You have good souls but it isn’t enough to save a life these days. Let me, to my fate and carry on. I started out at someone whom I shouldn’t have and this is my payback. No one helps out anyone unless it’s his family or friend”. “Go on!” and he slumped back against the girder with just an ounce of life left in him. The timeless soul clinging onto an ephemeral body. I went all out and wanted to try one last time, and to everyone’s amazement the oncoming car stopped and agreed to help. However, the moment he saw blood gushing out of him, we heard something which would be the epochal moment in our lives and has changed our perspective in all possible ways. We heard the car driver say, “I just washed my seat covers and I can’t afford to spoil them”; and I thought I was the king of poor jokes.
We quietly boarded our motorbikes and headed back to where we came from…
Signed…. A Concerned citizen
(The Satirical Twin)