By Kamlesh Tripathi
Death! I’ll’ tell you how she looks. I saw her from close quarters; only yesterday, while returning from office. She looked like a terrifying combination of a battered vehicle with a soiled number plate and a ghostly appearing driver who vanished into thin air in a flash of a second. And, it all happened on 21st November while returning from office.
I had just crossed Noida Golf club and was approaching the next traffic light signal on the roundabout of the Metro Station where there was a long queue of traffic waiting to cross. Moving slowly, by now I was as under the Metro station building and on the extreme right lane, inching along the high road divider, so high that while being seated in the car you could not see the traffic on the other side of the road. I was at peace as the traffic was disciplined, enjoying music; and relaxing in the company of fellow cars around, mostly returning from a hard day’s of work. Ahead, of me was a silver coloured Maruti Zen. The traffic light had gone green again, is when I realized I was about two hundred feet from it, and since I was still quite behind, I knew my time to move the car will only come by the time the light goes red again.
And, rightly so the cars ahead of me started moving only when the traffic light had turned red covering the empty road left by the cars ahead of them. I also rolled my car and stopped close to the roundabout. From where conveniently I would have crossed over in the next green light. I guess I was now just about forty or fifty feet away from the traffic light at the roundabout. To my right, continued the road divider with its fancy collection of green plants giving that fresh smell and adding to the beauty of the boulevard that ended after about twenty feet where it approached the roundabout. It wasn’t dark near the roundabout as the street lights were well lit.
A couple of seconds must have passed, is when I saw the rear lights of the Zen ahead of me flash, with that typical sound of a car being locked by the electronic remote switch. I then saw a skinny man, of medium height, perhaps the driver of that car in chappals, wearing dark coloured trousers, a half sweater getting out of it and walking away. And, very soon he reached the end of the road divider, where it ended at the roundabout and disappeared. I wondered where and why?
That gave me an uncomfortable feeling when it suddenly dawned in me, where has he gone? Why has he locked the car? And what is inside the car? Remembering the electronic remote switch that he had flaunted. Hope this is not a car bomb. I asked myself in panic, just when the traffic display read forty two seconds, to go.
The fright in me had set in. There was a car right behind me, so I couldn’t have inched backward, nor I could have gone forward. I imagined, what if this junk explodes? It will take me head on. There will be no chance of a survival. And no one knows where this bloody fellow has gone? All this must have happened in just about fifteen seconds.
Ahead of the Zen was a Mahindra Scorpio and on the left of it was the recently launched Tata Zest in its sexy blue colour which I still remember. Behind me it appeared was a Maruti Alto and to my immediate left an Innova where a guy was merrily talking on his mobile.
They say the fastest thing on earth is your mind. That had begun to sound in low decibels, as if my death-knell by a locally devised Molotov cocktail placed in a car. But the other part of my mind had suddenly started moving in top gear with my report card. In a flash it displayed things, that were undone, badly done and also successfully done in my life. It had also opened my conscience, my can of worms. Who all I had cheated and who all had cheated me; and with who all I was not fair and who all were not fair to me.
I remembered all my friends, including my girl friends. Some, unfamiliar voices reminded me, how I had hurt my Parents. Then suddenly a husky voice probably the voice of death said, ‘you have not made your will. Not explained your property papers to your wife, nor to your son, nor even to your daughter-in-law. And where have you kept your insurance papers, will they be able to find it; and what about the passwords, for if you die here in this blast your passwords might also die along with you in the computer, and what about your spiritual agenda and visits to various temples that you always wanted to carry out. All that will now have to be done in your next life provided you’re born as a human being.’ I could feebly make out, all these deadly voices were coming from that God forsaken Zen. When, suddenly I felt the flash was over. But the bomb was still alive and ticking. I suddenly missed my family.
The bright screen of the traffic light now read twenty seconds, to go. It was now or never. I quickly gathered myself, picked my phone, office bag, and moved out of the car and started walking in the reverse direction of the car when the guy sitting in the Alto behind my car said,
‘Where are you going sir, the signal will be green soon. Heeding to his advice I turned around to look at the signal in extreme fear, is when I also saw the driver of the Zen walking towards his car adjusting the fork of his pants and what lay beneath. I asked in some dismay.
‘Where did you go?’
He smiled and raised his little finger. But I had no expressions to return.
I sat in the car and slowly moved behind the Zen. There were no traffic cops there, to whom I could have narrated this episode. For them to be cautious and on the prowl about any such planned attacks by terrorists, as traffic signals were a vulnerable point.
That day I also realized the importance of ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan’ of Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. And, just how to relieve oneself, one can commit such idiosyncrasies; and the urgent need to construct Public loos along roadside.
Life is so weird for when I was seeing death staring at me. At only a distance of ten feet the other person in the Innova was giggling and speaking on his mobile. Perhaps, these very thin lines can only be managed by Almighty alone. And more importantly,
I am now preparing my will on fast track, and having a hard look at my checkered report card.