Mar 27, 2011

Cheap Life

Last Thursday, I was involved in an accident.

Now, before you start to type in your reaction, I didn't have a scratch on me.
However what I did witness shocked me.

On a way back home at half past 10 in the night, I witnessed a fatal accident.
A motorcyclist was sprawled right in the middle of a narrow road, with his head crushed beyond recognition. Face in a pool of blood with his knee and pelvis crushed. Hands outstretched as if he was blown away. No helmet. Minimal damage on the bike.
A solitary cop stood by the side of the road trying his best to redirect impatient drivers through a four feet gap in the road. The traffic lights were flooding the road with more traffic, as usual.
Many motorists filed past. Not one stopped to call the ambulance or offer help the lone cop with the unending traffic.
Not one stopped and I bet not one cared.
Not one would have thought more about this accident or lost their sleep over this.
He after all is just a statistic now.

Must have been a law abiding citizen.
Must have been a loving son, brother, husband or father.
Must have been a hardworking employee.
Must have been a tax paying citizen.
Must have been a deeply religious man.

But he certainly didn't deserve to lie in a pool of blood mixed with brain matter and bubble gum.
If he was a VIP or a Politician, the cops would've cordoned off the road. But 15 minutes into the accident, no one bothered. He is obviously dead since we can see his head is crushed beyond recognition. His tax rupees might have helped pave the very road that bore his shattered skull.

I was deeply shocked though.
Reasons that were guesses. I reasoned that he might have been hit by another vehicle while he was speeding down the road himself.
I prayed, that his family be consoled. That he find peace in the afterlife.

I searched for the news of the accident the next day. Found none. But remembered him in silent prayer every time we traveled on the bike.
Two days after the accident, I found a corner in the local newspaper, about the accident.
Sharmil, our unfortunate victim was a keralite. At 24, he left an indelible mark in our lives.
Little did his employer know that he was not coming to work that day. Little did his family know that they are not going to talk to him ever again.

Questions unanswered.
How will the truck driver ever rest in peace? Knowing that he snuffed out a life so young. That could have had a lot of hope, that certainly had a lot of dreams and shouldered a lot of responsibility. Like Lady Macbeth trying to wash off blood off her hands, would the truck driver be trying to wash off Sharmil's blood off his hands?
How was a truck able to speed on a road that is barely broad enough to have two cars? And where were the traffic cops who ambush hundreds of motorists?
How was the truck allowed to escape?

Shuddering even as I write this, this may go down as a mere number on the statistics in the traffic department, however this got us pondering.
Is life cheap? Do we deserve to live a death where we are just a passing attraction or an annoying traffic distraction?
Or is it just because we are Indians. One among a billion where our vacancy is quickly filled up by new births.

I guess it could be both.

By the time I've taken to write this, India added 50 newborns to her population. But Sharmil is not coming back anymore. His family will forever remember the 24th of March, 2011 as the darkest day in their lives. 

May his Soul rest in Peace and May the rest of us show some respect to the Living.

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