To Wipe a Soul away

"She came close to me, hugged me and cried out her heart out and then looked into my eyes and asked me a question…… I hugged her back and weeped…"

It was the year 1999, and I was a school kid who was busy doing my XIIth grade back in Don Bosco in Chennai. School days are some of the best known days of anybody’s life and am sure many of us store school memories in a very special place. For me my school is a place where I knew that dreams are meant to be made real. It’s a place where my soul grew its way out into the wilderness of dreaming high. The teachers, the friends and the memories made at school are amongst the best have cherished in life so far.

At school I was part of the NSS (National Service Scheme) group and our duties as young lads is to get ourselves busy with civic activities, organizing blood donations, beach cleaning and also conducting safety drills. Part of the safety drill was learning the fine art of First Aid. The group leader made sure that all the lads knew what it takes to provide and assist in an efficient first aid technique and for me nothing was more fascinating that learning an art where something you knew, could change the difference between life and death. And since I was in the biology group in school, most of my classmates’ parents were doctors and the children also shared their equal passion in becoming doctors in the future, so many a days passed us by in sharing information on what to do when someone gets a heart attack or a seizure or how to prevent blood loss and many more. My mother always kept telling me that “The people you see dying in the newspapers, are just people like us, and accidents are prone to happen to anybody, anywhere and at anytime, so always be cautious on what you do”. Listening to this I always assumed that every one of us can suddenly become a victim and to learn something as important as a first aid was truly necessitated in ones life.

In the December of 99, my uncle and aunt had come from France and as a family we took them out to different places in Chennai and showed them the best of whatever the city had to offer. We had a nice dinner and when all was done, we got back into the van and started back home. The time was 11:20pm and we were crossing a huge round, I was seated in the front left and was busy looking at the road and those few cars which were driving past the fly over when I laid eyes on a two objects which were in the middle of the road. At first I couldn’t conceive what I was looking at and then when the van neared a few yards, I realized that what I was seeing was actually two people fallen on the road. I yelled at my dad to stop the car and once the car stopped, I opened the door and ran towards the location. When I reached there, I saw a sight which has still haunted me over the years. A vision which is so disturbing and damaging that it altered a few pattern of my life for once and for all.

When I stood near those two motionless bodies lying on the road, I looked around and all I could see was just blood running from both their bodies and from a young age I have always been Haemophobic (fear of blood) and to stand next to a pool of blood was really frightening. I looked around and saw their mangled bike aside on the other side of the road. The whole scenario was so frantic, but still as I was trying to overcome my inner fears I heard a mild sound and I looked down just to see if it was coming from the person lying on the road. I kneeled down and felt his wrist to check if he had his pulse. His body was as cold as ice and he had no pulse, I tried moving his head and I notice that his skull was punctured and I realized that it was too late to save him.

I heard a sound again and realized that it was from the other person, and I ran towards him and took his hand and checked his pulse, his pulse was too low and I screamed at my dad to call the Ambulance and by this time other people started gathering on the road to check on the situation.

I held his hand and tried to talk to him, I asked him his name and information, but his voice was too feeble and he was getting weaker by the minute, he also incurred a head injury and was badly loosing blood. For a minute I just panicked and didn’t know what to do. When I tried to run back to my dad, a hand from the road clasped mine and for a second my heart skipped a beat, I was a bit taken aback and with a little bit of fear I looked on to him… he tried to tell me something, but his voice was too low and I didn’t understand what he was trying to explain me. I kneeled a little more and kept my ears closer and he said “ Amma………….” I looked at his face and there was tears rolling all over his eyes, he again cried “Amma……..” and looked at me and I could feel his grip on my hand loosing, I was so heavy at heart that I myself was in a state of mere shock and pain that I was sitting in the middle of the road trying to understand the fathoms of life beside a dying stranger. After a few seconds he let my hands loose and from a distance away I could hear the sirens of the incoming ambulance which was rushing its way to the accident location. By now a lot of people had assembled and the ambulance finally arrived.

With the help of the nearby people and my family, both the bodies were rushed into the ambulance which forced its way into the nearest hospital. We followed it to the KMC General Hospital and when we reached the hospital, one of the bodies was declared DOA (Dead on Arrival) and the other was immediately rushed to the Emergency Trauma Care Unit and dad using his police influence made sure immediate care was given to the person. A few senior doctors rushed in while dad and me waited in front of the door, praying for a good news. After 10 minutes a doctor came out and took my dad aside and spoke to him in silence. I was looking at my dad’s face turn from hope to despair. I went to the corner of a wall and started crying in pain because I just didn’t understand the thought of death. While I was silently weeping I heard loud cries coming from the entrance of the Trauma Unit, 3 ladies and 2 gents had assembled in the entrance and were crying aloud. Dad rushed in to the entrance and tried to pacify the family and I instantly realized that it was the family of the dead men.

Dad spent an entire hour trying to tell them what had happened and later told them about me and what I was trying to do…. One of the ladies who is the mother of one of the person who died called me towards her and asked me to sit next to her. I sat quietly and she kept looking at my face. She slowly pushed up my chin and asked me “ Did Nirmal talk to you ?” As I wanted to answer her, tears started rolling over my cheeks and I looked up to her and uttered to her in silently “He kept calling you” and I lowered my face down. The lady just hugged me and wailed and screamed, cursing God and calling her son’s name……

Deep inside I don’t really seem to understand what a loss of a soul would mean, but I did realize that when we loose someone so loved, our lives really aren’t the same anymore. Many a times when I drive fast, my mom always used to tell me that “Look at that man there, your so close to him, he might get hit, so go slow”…. And I used to reply back “ Well, he’s driving like a fool, why should he come in the middle of the road, I feel like hitting him right away” and my mom replied…. “well, always remember, that person who you are so willing to hit and move on is someone’s son, a father of a kid, a loving husband to a waiting wife, a soul bread winner of a family, for us, he might just look like a fool on the road, but beyond that, he is a living person who might have so many people depending on him”….. So please go slow…!! If you kill someone, believe me that guilt will kill you from inside, forever and you can never run away from it…..

I always remembered those few words my mother said, and it did make a huge difference when I see it from her perspective and I realized that our intension to pursue something wild might end up in wiping out a whole family out of their very lives. From that day on forward, I chose to be a safe driver, and I always make it a point to also convey it to my friends and dear ones who sometimes need that extra word to make them understand the value of life and soul.

There has not been days, when I cross the KMC hospital and think of what happened in the winter of 99, that unfortunate night where I saw something so disturbing but in someway that something made a big influence in my little life. A life which I now empathize much better with all its measures and splendor. It was a chance for me to realize that our persuasion for many things sometimes undermine the mere existence of simple people who are around us, people who otherwise would have had a chance to live an amazing lives for themselves.

"I will never forget that night, the night she came close to me, hugged me and cried out her heart out and then looked into my eyes and asked me a question…… I just hugged her back and weeped… "

** Dr.Ashok (26) and Dr.Nirmal Kumar (25), both doctors from Vellore Medical College were close friends whose native was Chennai and had come for a 3 day vacation. After meeting a few friends in the Marina Beach, were on their way back home when they were hit by a Dunlop company bus. Dr.Ashok died on the spot bearing severe head injuries. Dr.Nirmal sustained head injuries and a broken rib which had punctured his lungs but managed to survive for 20 minutes before breathing his last at the KMC General Hospital – Chennai. Both the doctors failed to wear helmets which otherwise would have given them a 70% chance of survival. It was later revealed that the bus driver was gravely drunk and had not followed the stop signal.

Dr.Ashok died just 13 days after his engagement to his long time girlfriend who he was in love with from school days. After 2 years and ` 20,000 fine, the driver was back on Chennai’s roads.

“Please drive carefully and safely, a life once gone, is gone forever”


Isha Bagaria said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
I love your style of writing !
Hmm, it is a sad sort of post, the girl and you crying, the dead people. But what i like is the look of your blog.
The music was cool too.

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