It was March 08, 2013. Our First Semester exams had finally begun. The French exam was scheduled to be held at 02:00 PM. Since it was a language we had very little clue about, we decided to cool off our heads by going for lunch at a nearby hotel. It was around 01:00 when we left the hotel fully fed and content. I am pretty sure we would have stayed there fifteen minutes longer; had we known what was to be witnessed next.
The road that led to my college was a dingy one-way-sized road. As most of the roads in India, it was used as a two way road. The drivers just adjusted to it like they were supposed to. I, along with my three friends was in a heated discussion of something that I just cannot bring myself to remember. We were nearing the Church and we noticed a big yellow painted bus parked on the side of the already small road. Girls were getting out of the bus and forming a big crowd to its side. The road was otherwise empty. A pretty girl (I call her pretty here out of belief for I cannot remember her face either) with long hair was standing in front of the bus. We hadn’t actually noticed her then. But our unconscious mind had taken in the image of it all.
Within a moment, a screech was heard and everything happened in a few swift seconds; like a slow motion action flick. I find myself reliving it all over again as I write each word. The earlier mentioned girl had run to the other side of the road. Since the huge bus had taken up half the road width, a bike that had come from the other side was taken by surprise when the girl emerged from behind the bus. The screech was from the friction between the tires of the bike and the road as the rider pressed the breaks. The bike hit the lanky girl and she flew above the bike and hit her head on a nearby post. The bike fell onto the road and seemed to rotate on the ground. Some big chuck broke off the bike and flew over the bus. My eyes were glued on the girl as she bounced back into a curve and sat motionless on the road. The only thing that moved was the blood that trickled all over her face. A second of stillness.
The extremity of it all was too much for my friend to handle and she turned around, covering her face. That was when our senses triggered and we ran towards the girl. We panicked. Her friends rushed over. Half of them were already crying. Within seconds, men came running from everywhere and picked the girl up. A car that was approaching was stopped and she was taken to the Medical College in it. That was when I noticed the boy that had ridden the bike. He was badly hurt too. His jeans were severely torn with his flesh exposed. His face was a bleeding mess. He could barely stand up. The next approaching bike was stopped and he was helped by the others to sit on it.
A huge crowd had gathered by then and people were talking. There was blood on the road and everyone wanted to know what happened. I could hardly make out some words from a girl that was crying bitterly on her friend’s shoulder. She said something about asking ‘her’ not to cross the road yet. I looked at my friends. We wanted to get out of that scene. We didn’t want to answer all those questions that the strangers were throwing at us. Holding hands, we walked towards the college… away from it all.
We casually mentioned to our friends that an accident had taken place on the road. We didn’t say anything more. The intensity of having to witness an accident for the first time had tired us down. We walked to the exam hall and continued with our day. We tried not to talk about it again. Boy! Wasn’t that a Herculean task!
I went straight to the railway station to get home after the exam. I didn’t want to linger around. Vishnu called me an hour later to tell me that the girl was in a critical stage. Next day, Nilu called to tell me that the girl was in coma. The one call that I hoped not to get arrived within the next few hours. The girl had passed away.
And that was that. My mind replayed the whole incident over and over. I wanted it to stop. And the only way I knew to be relieved of a story is by sharing it. This is my escape into reality.
I still can’t help but think that it could have easily been us. The bike could have swerved to the left instead and it would have been me or any one of my friends. What they say is so right.
Today it is me.
Tomorrow it is you.
And I just can’t stop saying it.