YOU REALLY WON’T KNOW WHO ALL WILL BE THERE TO SEE YOU OFF WHEN YOUR MOMENT COMES

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We know nothing about our future, yet we all have a future.

As narrated by anonymous in Lucknow.

It was just the other day when I had gone for a cocktail dinner to one of my friend’s place, on the occasion of his daughter’s wedding somewhere in Gomti Nagar. I had really done a lot of planning to be there. Having come, all the way from Delhi. But for some reason my wife couldn’t accompany me on that particular day.

Considering it will be a late night. I had hired a cab for the evening; and was expecting to have some great recalling moments. Catching up with some very old friends.Whom I had not met for an eon now. Besides that, I also expected many unknown, yet distinguished guests on the occasion. Overall a formal flashy gathering, where I wasn’t wrong.

The party had just about begun in the first floor of a guest house that he had hired. The epicenter of the venue was quite well lit, with a festive ambience. Buoying with some lilting ghazals and appropriating the celebratory occasion to a rocking start.

I too saluted the moment by gulping down some whisky, as I waved out for some piping hot chicken-tikka-kabab, in the freezing, yet enjoyable ambient temperature. And, as I put a piece in my mouth, very strangely it went straight down my throat and into my food pipe before I could even chew it and started choking me. I felt a little alarmed and cussed to begin with.

First, I tried to gulp it down with some whisky and then some water. But to my shock both whisky and water started oozing out of my nose but the chicken remained where it was. I rushed to the toilet thinking I’m about to vomit but there too nothing great happened as the chicken piece or the chicken bone, still remained stuck.

In all of this some fifteen to twenty minutes must have passed. By now the party was in full blast, when I could hazily see, some unknown, yet smartly dressed up couples and their children around me. Just then, I felt I was close to a blackout. But there appeared not a single known face in the tangible surrounding. Whom I could have shouted for help. Moreover the music was too loud. And, by now I was beginning to feel a little embarrassed.

It was an unexpected and painful moment for me. When I could feel my present withering to a repulsive future. Coming my way on fast track; to grip me. I was now in deep agony now, for over twenty minutes. Breathing heavily through my nose and messy all over, is when I decided to leave. For I didn’t want the party to get spoilt. And by now my eyes had even blurred. All the fluid stuck in my throat was dripping out of my nose. My hanky was all wet and by now some people had also started noticing me.

Fortunately, I was able to locate my cabby in the car park. I waved at him. He appeared to be a smart guy. As he smelt something was wrong with me, just by observing my body language and drove the car right up to where I was standing, as if in divine sync. I slid in, and in panic, I asked him to take me home. And even though, he could make out, I was unwell, He did not say a word till he put the car in motion.

By now, another five minutes had passed. I called my wife at home and told her to be at the gate, to take me to a doctor forthwith. Briefly describing, what was stuck in my throat. She panicked upon hearing this. I was in deep agony by now. My eyes were closing and I was breathless.

Meanwhile, the driver, while he was driving, opened his water bottle and asked me to forcefully drink some water even if I couldn’t. Which I did, but nothing improved. On the contrary I became a little more uncomfortable. He then slowed the car and started patting me on my neck, but I remained uncomfortable. By now, I could make out we were crossing ‘Bhaisa Kund,’ the cremation ground at around 9.30 in the night. That was indeed scary. As, I found it quite still and dark, with I  so close to it. Will I be brought here tomorrow? Was the weird feel I got. And, will I survive this onslaught of chicken-tikka-kabab, I wondered, in surrendering emotion.

It was one of the most frightening moments of my life for obvious reasons. Since, no one from my family was there to hold me, except, the cabby who appeared as a family then. Who happened to be a young guy, and my only source of inspiration. Perhaps, the divine co-passenger sent from heaven, for the hallowed moment. I helplessly thought, will I make it from here? I pondered in pessimism, but by then my head had slumped forward, almost resting on the dashboard; perhaps the end was near, thought the cabby.

Is when I suddenly felt he had stepped up the vehicle. We were to turn right but he took to the left and in just about five minutes he stopped in front of a small hospital. He rushed inside and got a wheel chair and took me straight to the emergency ward with the help of a ward boy. By now, I was hardly able to converse, but the driver explained to the doctor, and the doctor with a minor procedure pulled out the chicken piece and advised me not to attempt it, ever again. And with that my trauma had subsided, but myriads of introspection arose.

Because, the last one hour had given me a feel of life’s biggest certainty, death. It also conveyed, you have very little control over your future. So enjoy every moment and create similar situations for others also. As anything can happen anytime. And all around you, you only have fellow passengers. For you don’t know who all will come to see you off. And, who all, you’ll see off, when the moment comes.

And, last but not the least, the incident took me close to an accident victim. Who suddenly dies away from his family and without any forewarning. He has no one to see him off. But my case was slightly different. Where, the fellow passenger, the driver in this case had come to see me off. For a moment I thought, the strong thread of family would have helped me go past that last flicker. From the feel of future to actually arriving at the future–death. But I guess the longing best wishes of my family and the presently departed souls at Bhaisa kund still wanted me alive and about, and so pulled me back with the lease of life. But then who knows when it will strike again.

*****

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