It was the 24th of March 2001. My exams were over and I was enjoying my post exams holiday. Rolling on my bed lazily, I was watching a movie. Suddenly, I felt an urge to ride my bicycle. The feeling was too strong for me to control. I tried fighting the temptation but it was too strong to resist. My mind tried to convince me with prudence that I should not go out as it was very hot out there and I hate it getting sweaty. But my heart, as manipulative as it is, persuaded me that a child of my age should not be spending each day curled up on his bed. And I, as usual, got manipulated. In my black Bermuda and a pink shirt with check design (do not judge, kids like every colour), I went to my bicycle parked downstairs. It was a red coloured Avon Classic.
As I started dusting my bicycle, I saw the rear wheel was flat. God! How I hated it! Now I had to go on a completely different path which I never went. Usually, my father used to take care of all this. But now he was at work and I was only one left to do it. So pedalling it with a struggle, I went to the repair shop. I don’t know why it happened so that day but the repairman asked me two rupees to pump air in the cycle. He never did that before. That meant that I had to go back to my house and get the money. I went, taking an altogether different route that I had never walked upon.
The road was a good one but a single lane; wide enough only to pass a large vehicle at one time. It was for the first time I was going to ride on an actual road. I used to ride on small streets and lanes earlier. The sense of freedom was tremendous on that road. I felt like a grown up man. It’s funny how we always wanted to grow up when we were children. I was nervous, full of anxiety but excited and happy at the same time. It was like I was going to do something brave. I peddled my ride and stepped on the road. I didn’t go fast as I was on an actual road for the first time.
I started. After a minute or so, I passed by the post office. As I was crossing the old post box, the front wheel of my cycle got stuck in the sand heap by the road. A truck was passing by and I fell in front of its front tyres. The truck was speeding, so when it ran over my hand it damaged a lot. To make it worse, the driver applied brakes when the tyre was over my hand. The speeding truck stopped a bit ahead than the place it applied brakes dragging me along with it. People gathered around me. They watched but didn’t pick me up. A car went by, two motorcycles passed. No one stopped by. Two women picked me up. My hand was just dangling way below my knee only attached by a curly piece of skin.
I folded my damaged hand like we fold dried clothes and held it with my other hand. An auto rickshaw stopped. The women made me sit inside it. As I travelled towards my home I saw people beating the hell out of the truck driver. I wanted to stop them but was not in a condition to do so.
My Maa almost lost her consciousness when she saw me like this. Our neighbours helped her and in the same rickshaw we went to my father’s work place. In his employer’s car we went to the nearby hospital. We were like a family to my father’s employer so he didn’t think twice before ruining his expensive car’s seat cover with my blood. The hospital said they didn’t have enough facilities. Via an ambulance, I was carried to a hospital, 30 kms away from the location. They admitted me, gave me first aid but didn’t have a surgeon good enough to operate on me. Again I travelled almost 40 kms to the next hospital which had an orthopaedic surgeon.
They operated on me for seven hours and amputated my hand as the damage was beyond repair. They didn’t tell me this when I gained consciousness. When I tried to touch it I realised what had happened. Apart from that, I had stitches on my cheek and my right leg. But I didn’t cry; I am not lying, I really didn’t cry because I went numb. Everyone around me took utmost care of me and tried to keep my spirits high. After about a week I was discharged. It was a big change in my life. I had to learn everything again. Writing, eating, wearing clothes, handshakes–almost everything; for I had lost my right hand. It was funny how I started practising alphabets even though I was 11. What a gift I received just a week before my birthday!
Now, all of you reading this must be wondering why I wrote this! I mean, why would be anyone interested in what happened in my life. I write this not to gain sympathy or to let you know with pride that I have came over the incident. I write this to share some realizations which I had during that time:
1. Destiny – There is really something called destiny present somewhere. It always takes you where you belong. Or else why would I have had that compulsion of riding bicycle, that too when I was watching a movie that I liked (believe me I never miss a movie!)? Why was my tyre flat that day? Why did the repairman, who never asked me money, did so that day? Why did I choose the road that I never travelled? Why was there a heap of sand there, why did I get stuck in it and why did the truck have to use the same road—even if heavy vehicles were not allowed to pass there, as it was a residential area? All this cannot be coincidences. Destiny was there.
2. Apathy – The second unfortunate thing I realized that day was Apathy. I was lying on the road, bleeding profusely. People gathered around me, watched, pitied my condition, imprecated the truck driver and left. Those who stayed looked as helpless as me for reasons unknown. Had the two women not been there, I would have bled to death. Why do not we step up to help an unknown person? Imagine someone you love being at my then situation and nobody to help them! Apathy was there and is still a big hindrance in creating a developed society.
3. Family – The biggest factor that pulled me back to life was my family. Family is something which gives you wings when you have stopped believing that you can fly. I can’t even imagine my possible survival if they were not there for me–especially my parents. After I came back home I never saw my Maa crying in front of me for she feared that her crying would weaken me. My Paa used to bathe me everyday till I was healthy enough to do it myself. My uncles with their children came to meet me crossing 2000 kms. My cousins tried all possible ways to make me laugh. And a lot of such examples which I don’t even remember. Family is the tree which always keeps you rooted to life. Love it, take care of it; they are worth dying for.
4. Love – Your bad time is really a wonderful time actually. You really get to know the people who love you. And it is unbelievable, unfathomable that people can love you so much! Whether they are related to you by blood or not does not matter. My father’s employer who carried me to hospital in his car didn’t think twice to pay my hospital’s bill. He threw out his expensive seat cover because it reminded him of me covered in blood. I still don’t know who brought food for us when we were in hospital. The people who hadn’t seen me for the past 10 years came to take care of me. My paternal uncle smuggled fast food from outside against hospital’s rule because I was bored with the hospital food. My school teacher came to meet me everyday even if I was not good in his subject. My doctor who did my dressing treated me as her younger brother. My surgeon used to give me a rose everyday when he came to meet me. My neighbours took care of our house and us be it with food or laundry or anything. There was a school below at the place where I stayed; the headmaster brought a new book for me every day. And many other instances which made me believe in love. Love was there and it was wonderful.
5. Happiness – I lost my right hand which closed a lot of possibilities for me. I wasn’t able to do little beautiful things. I wasn’t able to ride a bike with my Maa sitting on the back seat. I wasn’t able to play football or any sports as a matter of fact as it made my hand painful. I wasn’t able to hug anyone tightly for god sakes! I lost many other things but had a realization. Happiness is something you have to choose to have. And you can choose happiness if you accept the reality. As soon as I accepted that this is a part of my life now I became aware of the other happiness that I deserved; I deserved because I accepted my reality and chose to be happy.
So all in all, I want to say that destiny will make its move, will devoid you of many important things in your life. Don’t be apathetic to it. For you always have family and other people who are ready to pour down love on you. So accept whatever has happened to you, and most importantly, choose to be happy, because you deserve it.