There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


By Bornali Bhattacharjee
Worcester, MA, USA 

Red had always been my favorite color
It reminded me of valor and a term called ‘POWER’
I wondered why today’s red has become much too pallor

Wait my friend that’s not the end
Asked the street-man what would he call red
He spoke out loud and fell with a thud
It reminded him of his dying child who had bled

It was now time for the middle man to whine
None had time to define a color so prime
Some more money and money is all they need
The urge was deep and that’s what I call greed
 Stopped a wife and talked about her life
She spoke of her man and all her mundane plan
When urged to speak of red she spoke of her dread
With so much of terror would she be robbed off her favorite color

Came back to ask my mother what she thought of my favorite color
She said- If you want the red which you shall not dread
Then show me your valor and the term you call POWER
And red will remain to be our favorite color.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Satire on Indian Social Class

By Abdullah Khan
New Delhi, India

Driven by the IT-boom and the skyrocketing SENSEX, the Indian economy touched new heights during the last two decades. But despite all the progress made by the country, social inequality still exists. There is a darker underbelly amid the shining India where people are not even entitled to two square meals. From that underclass comes Ayyan Mani, the protagonist and anti-hero of Serious Men, the impressive debut novel of journalist Manu Joseph.
Sitting at the bottom of the caste pyramid Ayyan Mani, is perpetually disdainful about the extra-ordinary clouts Brahmins enjoy in the public sphere of Indian society. Leading an unremarkable life in a one-room flat of a Bombay slum, Ayyan is an achiever by the yardsticks of the social class he comes from. A personal assistant to a renowned astronomer Arvind Acharaya, he is some kind of celebrity for his fellow residents of BDD chawl that mostly comprised of factory workers and labourers. To overcome the boredom of a lower class quotidian life and add some sparkle to his miserable existence, he embarks on a dangerous journey, weaving an outrageous fantasy around his only son. And to an extent he is able to convince everybody, including his innocent wife, that his son is a child prodigy.
At the Institute of Theory and Research, where Ayyan works, he is a peeping tom and takes unhealthy interests in personal lives of his superiors. He is a mirthful witness when the game of vicious office politics unfolds at the institute, between the formidable director of the institute, Arvind Acharya and his deputy. For Ayyan it is a war between Brahmins, and he has nothing to do with it. But when reputation of Arvind Acharya takes a dip involving controversy relating to a project about finding microscopic extraterrestrial, he jumps in to the fray. Ayyan not only saves Arvind but is also able to use this opportunity to make his son a national celebrity.
Ayyan Mani reminds us of Balram Halwai from Adiga's The White Tiger as both of them comes from the same Indian social class. But the character of Ayyan Mani is more credible and his approach to climb the class ladder is more sophisticated than the former. Metaphorically speaking, Ayyan's ambition symbolises the dreams of common mass. At another level, the novel is a subtle satire on all class systems in our society. This division of people into haves or have-nots are not exactly based on caste. It may be based on other considerations too, and most important among them is how much resources a person owns. The character has been sketched out well capturing the idiosyncrasies of the protagonist. But, the best-handled character in Serious Men is Arvind Acharya, the scientist par excellence who is as tall as his standings as an astronomer. He is able to inspire awe in his rivals. But his jumbo size ego and clarity about his ambition make him not to compromise on his beliefs. As the story gathers momentum and moves to the second half, he emerges out as the main protagonist and Ayyan is relegated to background.
Another interesting angle in the story is Oparna. An epitome of beautiful and an astro-biologist, she succumbs to the intellectual aspect of Arvind Acharya's personality. But the steamy affair between them doesn't last long. This has disastrous consequences on the career and reputation of Arvind Acharaya.
The author handles the characters efficiently and the story has a great start. The last few chapters are also dealt with superbly. But in between, the prose becomes laborious, sometimes, even forcing you to skip the pages. The voice of Ayyan Mani, at times, also becomes voice of the author and that sounds artificial. There are some minor plot-holes too. For example, Ayyan Mani's attempt to leak questions for quiz contest doesn't appear to be plausible.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Grappling with Hope

By Abhishek Chatterjee
You would be hard pressed to point out Baraut on the map of India. Chances are you've never been there. Or even heard of it. Regardless, the residents of this small town in Uttar Pradesh, around 60 km askew of New Delhi, would have forgiven you your ignorance till a few weeks ago, as their favorite son, wrestler Rajiv Tomar, was well on track to realizing his medal dreams at the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG). But that dream has since turned spectacularly sour, thanks largely to the combined incompetence and general apathy of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the country’s Wrestling Federation (WFI), both set up to nurture sporting talent, but whose general carelessness and lack of any foresight have put paid to many a sporting dream, a result sharply in contrast to their purpose.
Tomar’s story is not only a shocking indictment of the state of general disrepair of our sports governance, but also one of hopelessness that comes from being associated with a sport other than cricket in this country. The incident was widely covered by the media, and this sporadic coverage will eventually do irreparable damage to Tomar. Where tomes are written about our underachieving and often bratty cricketers and where Yuvraj Singh’s many romantic dalliances generate as much front page copy as food inflation or political machinations, what hope can there be for a poor wrestler? He finds mention only when he fails a dope test in the wake of a much publicized (for all the wrong reasons) international event. Tomar’s only error appears to have been to consult a doctor when he came down with flu. The medication he took for his ailment turned up a banned substance, and as per the prevailing guidelines, he stands suspended. Here is an ‘Arjuna’ awardee wrestler who is perhaps the country’s best medal hope in the 120-kg freestyle category, and what fate befalls him? He falls victim to complete negligence from a wretched administrative body set up precisely to nurture and develop him. The WFI claims innocence as does the SAI. Neither perhaps found a break from the constant bickering and internal politics that seem to run deep in any sort of administration in India, to actually have the time and inclination to guide and monitor the athlete. It is quite possible that the unfortunate wrestler did not even have an updated list of banned substances as issued by WADA, and was quite possibly met with ignorance from the sports authorities as well. The doping malaise is easily avoidable if the athlete wishes to stay clean and country’s foremost athletes have been failed by their very own. Fellow wrestlers Sumit and Mausam Khatri, also banned, are distraught as well. It is not always that they get to compete in international events of the scale of the CWG, and now they will watch from the sidelines. Worse still, history might end up remembering them for this alleged misdemeanor.
Does the name Monika Devi ring a bell? This weightlifter was declared to have failed a doping test just before departing for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, only to be cleared a few days later, but not before her dream of participating in the Olympics was scuttled. She almost gave up the sport as a result. The media went to town with her dope test failure, but weren’t as vocal in following up with the story of her innocence. These are sportspersons who are time and time again expected only to participate and not win. These are sportspersons who walk miles to any sort of sporting infrastructure to practice, on a daily basis. These are sportspersons who brave a complete lack of opportunity during their growth phases and still win medals for the country. These are sportspersons who take up athletics and persevere, knowing full well, that the best that they can hope for is a passing mention in the back pages of a newspaper, should they win anything on an international level. These are sportspersons who have achieved success in their chosen spheres in spite of the system and not because of it. These are sportspersons who know they will disappear into thankless history, and these are also men and women who also deal with complete ignorance and indifference from the general sport enthusiast in the country. But they continue to find the immense strength to carry on regardless. This needs to be respected. This needs to be celebrated. This exemplary courage must resonate with the rest of the country. But India seems to have moved on. The values of the post ‘91 generation seem to have been irrevocably altered. As long as we remain besotted with IPL parties, inconsequential ODIs and more burnout-inducing T20 tourneys with all their trappings of glamour, we will never stop to notice how Monika Devi has fought her way back from the abyss of despair and depression to rise again to be regarded as India’s best bet for a medal in the upcoming CWG. The fact that no one pays any attention is the root cause of this pathetic situation our athletes find themselves in. And for the sake of sport in India, the media must also start to care more. It is time to stop remembering Rajiv Tomar for failing a dope test; rather it is time for him to be remembered for being the holder of a record 35 Bharat and Hind Kesari titles.

It is perhaps encouraging that athletes such as Saina Nehwal and Vijender Kumar have seen some mainstream recognition in the wake of their successes. But they are exceptions to the rule. The track and field and ‘akhara’ types continue to be mainstream pariahs, forgotten and ignored by most. It is time this changed and we cleaned up our act, not only in terms of administration and governance of sports in this country, but also in terms of more positive media coverage. Talent, blood, guts, and courage are aplenty, but it needs to be given a chance. One need not reiterate that there are indeed many Indias. Indias divided by rupees in the wallet, Indias divided by language, caste, creed and community. Indias divided by religion. We don’t need an India divided by sport.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Fine Balance

By Deepak Adhikari
Kathmandu, Nepal
A Fine Balance, the second novel by Rohinton Mistry, a Bombay-born writer now living near Toronto, Canada, moves between the four characters caught in the whirlpool of events unfolding during the emergency imposed in India by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
These four unfortunate characters are Ishvar Darji and Omprakash Darji, uncle-nephew duo who hail from an impoverished Indian village; these cobblers-turned-tailors struggle in the unnamed city by the sea (a thinly veiled Bombay), Dina Dalal, a widow from middle class Parsi family, and Maneck Kohlah, a Parsi teenager from mountainous village in northern India. The Emergency looms large like a shadow in the life of these four central characters. The 603-page novel that was the finalist for a Booker Prize revolves around them.
Dina is a vivacious young widow who lives on her own after her husband’s death. She lives on an apartment left by her late husband Rostum who was killed in an accident while cycling to fetch ice-cream for the guests at his home party. Ishvar and Om are the victims of the cruelty that is caste system in India--they have fled the caste-violence of their village. Maneck, fed up with the ragging and filth of hostel is a paying guest at Dina’s. The tailors are hired by Dina who supplies clothes to Au Revoir Export Company. Thus, necessity forces these four characters to share a cramped apartment. But they also share their stories that are marked by sadness, loss, poverty, hunger and other tragic aspects of life.

Mistry reveals the theme of the novel through the character of Valmiki, the former proofreader at The Times of India who loves to quote WB Yeats:

“You see, you cannot draw lines and compartments, and refuse to buzz beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.”
The novel--first published in 1995--is divided into 16 chapters; each chapter has a title such as City by the Sea, For Dreams to Grow, In a Village by a River, Sailing Under One Flag, Return of Solitude etc. It has a prologue dated 1975 and ends with an epilogue of 1984. This time frame reminded me of Aravind Adiga’s story collection Between the Assassinations that is set in the period between the murder of Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi. When one of the characters, Maneck returns from Dubai after working for 8 years towards the end of the book, we are told that Indira Gandhi is killed by her security guards. Maneck encounters a country ravaged by communal violence whereby his Sikh cab driver has to shave his head and beard fearing the backlash. The novel ends as her son Rajiv takes over.
What struck me most with Mistry’s story is whenever I thought the characters have finally overcome all the obstacles, terrible things happen to them. When a defiant Om finally agrees to get married, the two tailors embark on a journey to search for a suitable bride. But soon, they are caught in a state sponsored terror. They are forced to undergo sterilization spearheaded bySanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s infamous son. As if it was not enough, Ishvar’s legs have to be mutilated whereas Om is castrated. In the very beginning of their work with Dina, both of them are arrested and taken to a rally to attend prime minister’s speech.
It is no exaggeration to say that Mistry is a master storyteller. The descriptions are vivid, the dialogues sharp and the narrative well constructed. The chapters dealing with the struggle of Dukhi, Ishvar’s father in the feudal, superstitious and tradition bound village are very poignant, hence superb. Dukhi’s shack is put on fire by high caste people killing the family members except Ishvar and Om.
Though the character of Maneck, unlike other three, is not well drawn, there are others who complement the story. There is Ashraf Chacha, the amicable mentor of Ishvar and Narayan who pay him back by saving his family from massacre during the Hindu-Muslim riot following the partition of India and Pakistan.

There is Rustom, who meets Dina in a concert; they fall in love and marry despite the objection from Dina’s family. His fondness for cycling leads to his death. Ibrahim, the rent collector who indulges in looking back at his life with regret and bitterness because his malicious job involves threatening the tenants like Dina. The plethora of characters adds to the story that is both evocative and condensed. It also has characters like Rajaram who changes his profession only to deceive people, Monkeyman who kills the ruthless Beggarmaster—the latter runs a begging industry and even justifies the disfigurement of beggars’ organs. There is Dina’s nagging brother Nusswan.

But ultimately it’s the four main characters that are at the heart of the novel.

It is said that it’s better to read Charles Dickens (with whom Mistry is often compared) to learn about Victorian England; similarly, one should readShakespeare in order to know about life in Elizabethan period. Echoing these lines, I would recommend a reading of A Fine Balance to know what life was like for ordinary Indians during Emergency in India. Though at times dark and melancholy, it’s a rich, rewarding book.

Transformed (Acrylic on Canvas)

By Prodipto Roy
Kolkata, India

And oh, What a Fall it was!

By Bidisha Bagchi
St Joseph, Michigan, USA

Maajhi Aai, My Mother

By Minal Vaz

Sahasi is what my mother has named me.

The celebration of Durga pooja and Navratri gives me enough reason for celebrating the presence of my mother in my life, who is not less than a goddess to me.  Let me share something special about my mothers. Yes, I have two! One who gave me birth, my biological mother and the other who raised me, my adoptive mother. 

It is true; we cannot choose certain things in our life. They are given to us and we have to accept them the way they are. If given a choice, I would have chosen to take birth from the womb of my adoptive mother. This does not mean I do not respect my biological mother but I have reasons for my choice.

I really do not know under what circumstances my biological mother gave me birth and in what moment and for what reason she decided to abandon me. I am sure I was abandoned in the early morning hours, wrapped in warm and soft linen cloth, crying at the doorsteps of an adoption agency when she left me there. While leaving me, I know she cried, hugged me and kissed me several times. Nevertheless, she was helpless. Maybe she was an unwed mother scared to face the society and stigma that would follow her if she brought me all by herself. May be her partner (unfortunately my biological father) might have refused to own me. Maybe I was a born out of an accidental child and therefore unwanted. Maybe the responsibility of a child would have meant marriage for the couple and for which their relationship was not made for or, maybe because I was a girl child, I was not acceptable. Reasons could be many but cannot say for sure which one would have been for me. 

Nonetheless, I respect my biological mother, for having given birth to me rather than opting for abortion. Also, I respect her for choosing to leave me at the doorstep of an adoption home rather than throwing me away in a dustbin, leaving me at the mercy of street dogs and wild birds.

I was 5 months when my adoptive mother celebrated my home coming. She was 31 years, when she adopted me from Matru Chayya Adoption Home.  In all my childhood memories, the photographs of my home coming, the video of the day when I began to walk, my first birthday party, initial parent-teachers’ meeting, my father was missing. As I matured, I learned that my mother was single, a single unmarried woman who had adopted me. She never shared her reason for being single and that was not important for me to know. What gave me pleasure was her excitement and a compelling desire to parent and nurture a child. Instead of finding a partner and having her own biological child, she chose adoption. 

It took more than 9 months to have a baby in her arms.  She experienced a lot of pain though not physical like my biological mother had to bear while delivering me but the psychological and social pain. She had conceived the idea of adopting a child when she was 28 years. However, she could not adopt at that age as the eligibility criterion for single adoptive parents listed by the law was above 30 years.

My grandmother was very upset with her decision of adopting a child. She was worried that no man would consider marrying her daughter after she adopted a child. Like others, even my grandmother was unable to understand the reason behind the choice of adoption when she could have got married and had her own baby instead. Once she started accepting her daughter’s choice, she was worried how my mother would nurture a child all by herself without a partner.

My mother approached many adoption agencies and filed application for single parent adoption. In many cases, her application was dispassionately rejected on the ground of being single.  As often, single individuals are perceived as irresponsible and some of those adoption agencies thought that my mother is also one of them. Some stated that for healthy growth and development, a child needed both, a father and a mother. However, they never understood that a single parent home was far better than an institution.

She also faced many problems after adopting me. She played a role of father and a mother. Sometimes coming late from the office, tired and frustrated (like all fathers would be) and everyday rising early in the morning to prepare my meals and plan my day (like all mothers do). She earned the bread as well as fed me.
She had the wonderful strength of ignoring neighbours comments and speculation about my legitimacy. As a child I never understood how it feels to hear questions as how can one nurture someone’s illegitimate child?  Is the child an adopted one or is she her own illegitimate child being projected as an adopted child? It went to the extent of sarcastic comments from her friends for making a status statement in the society.

My mother not only gave me a name, which means courageous, but she also gave me an identity in the society. She taught me to pay attention on things, which would boost my self-image rather than break me by listening to ‘what people say’. She was the best example for me.

I do not recollect any instance wherein she has ever restricted me to exercise my choice. But, I remember, whenever I expressed my choice or any desire, she has always played the role of a mother who would inform me about the good and the bad, the right and the wrong consequences of exercising my choice and fulfilling my desire.

Sometimes, it so happened that choices made, were wrong, and she just said ‘nothing is assured or guaranteed take it as a part of your learning’.  That is how I learned to take responsibility for my choice and my actions. And in true sense she made me Sahasi (courageous).

Indeed, biology has the power to give life but it is love and care that empowers life.  Hence, in true sense my adoptive mother is my mother (maaji aai,माझी आई).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Her Liquid Freedom

By Sudeshna Dasgupta

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kavach-the Armour

By Ananya Mukherjee

I don’t remember his face very well. Just a faint sketch of his physical outlines, his big broad shoulders, his deep voice, some of the songs he sang and few of the words he said to me about life, freedom and spirituality that I couldn’t quite understand. From what I have heard from those who knew him intimately during his lifetime—and there weren’t many who did for he was known to have a very strong and intimidating exterior—he was a well-read, liberated but arrogant and formidable sort of a man. Some interpreted it as his reticence; others translated the aloofness of his disposition as his egotism.
My mother never spoke much about him. I always felt she nurtured a deep sense of emotional detachment from him ever since the day he left her alone in the physical world. No, he did not leave her for another woman. He desolated her for a greater cause—the love of the nation. A man of his principles could not accept the fetters of a foreign rule. He gathered his resources and revolted against the British Raj. Unfortunately, his extremist views cost him dearly. Arrested, tried, jailed and eventually executed, he paid with his own life and some of ours.
I lost my father when I was six. My mother followed all the rituals of mourning but didn’t shed a tear. They thought the shock had left her senses inert. She was unable to emote to grief, was their legitimate conclusion. I, however, felt his death only enhanced a predetermined indifference. She held him guilty of evading his obligations towards his family and deliberately dragging her into an inevitable misfortune.
Yes, his untimely demise left her with a lot of responsibilities—the ancestral property, the dependent relatives, her own children and their future. On the other hand, his departure from my life left me with almost nothing except for a legacy that I naturally, as an heir “acquired”. A wooden handcrafted flute, a diary, the portrait of a lonely woman chasing a silver moon and just a handful of memories of a man I once called Baba was all I was left with. The one frame that had the longest lasting impression and remained etched in my mind throughout my childhood, adolescence and youth was that of his funeral pyre. Yet, I could never bring myself to come to terms with his death.
In my moments of indecisiveness and fright, in times of utmost anguish, hopelessness, defeat and loss, I always found refuge in his thoughts. My father was a strong man, whereas I, his only son, was a submissive emotional weakling, often going into an overdrive of self-pathos and depression when things didn’t happen my way. In all those moments of despair, all my monologues were addressed to him. What may appear as a deviation to normal behaviour, I communicated with him, never expecting a response but baring my soul nonetheless. Surprisingly, even in absence, his presence had the most undeniable influence on my life. And time and again, events occurred to corroborate my faith in the inexplicable power of the unseen and unheard existence of an arbiter of my destiny.

I vividly remember a winter night in the biting cold Himalayan terrain five years ago. I was assigned a job in the Tehri town in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India. My deputation at the controversial hydroelectric project required me to travel to the lovely hill station located by the fiery Bhagirathi river quite often. In fact, more often than I loved to be away from my family! My regular trips would be typically short and I would return to my hometown in Dehradun in a day or two. However, this trip, in particular was overstretched and after a fortnight of staying in a freezing cold, unfriendly and difficult working environment, I naturally wanted to go back to the warm comforts of home during the weekend. And that particular evening I was sulking in loneliness.
From the guesthouse where my accommodation was temporarily arranged, I could see a magnificent peak of the snow clad Himalayas. As I was watching the setting sun cast a pinkish orange tone to the snow capped peak, the spectacle left me completely mesmerized and thoroughly homesick. I began missing the panoramic view from my room’s window facing the mystical Mussoorie lights and Shivalik mountain range, my mother’s home-baked bread, curry and mango pickles, the warmth of her affection and all the associated hospitality that came with being raised in a large joint family, and most importantly, without a father. Without dwelling too much over how the superiors at work would react to my sudden disappearance from the site, I decided to take a bus home.
In the hills, especially in winters, it is not a common practice to stay out in the open or travel after sunset. Much as the temperature plays a devil, the fog plays its rightful advocate. It’s too risky to travel uphill or go downhill when the visibility drops down to a minimum. Needless to say, the bus station was nearly empty and traffic was scanty. By the time I reached the ticket counter, the conductor to the last state transport bus to Dehradun was already whistling away and trying to sell the few spaces left to fill up the empty back row. The government-run bus looked as unimpressive as it could and though craving to be home as soon as was possible, I was hoping I had another option.
At the same time, a private luxury bus pulled up next to the old state transport bus. The conductor, a street smart chap, seeing my hesitance to board the former, sensed my need immediately. Spitting out a mouthful of paan juice, he assured me in the corniest phrases possible that he’d give me the best ticket.
“Sir, we offer excellent service. The best you can get here. Also, one bottle mineral water free. I’ll give you seat 3 and 4, just behind the driver. With only steel rails in front, it will give you more space to stretch your tired legs, Sir. And with two seats, you can also sleep your way through the journey.” He sounded extremely tempting and I thought my prayers were just being answered. At least, I had the privilege to opt what I wanted.
I was just about to board the bus when something within instinctively forbade me to climb up the steps and secure my luggage. Strangely, I retracted with an unexpected reflex. Just then, for a split of a second, I thought, I saw a faint outline of Baba by a window in the other state transport bus. It was impossible I knew. And in all these years, when I had constantly nurtured and lived with the feeling that Baba though omnipotent was only my passive listener, I never hallucinated about his physical presence. The sight of that funeral pyre was stamped on my mind.
Strangely enough, knowing that it was one of the most illogical but overpowering intuition, I submitted to it and withdrew immediately. The conductor looked at me helplessly and wondered why I had changed my mind. I left him with no answer and walked back to the rusty old state transport bus. The bus had almost started moving away from the station and I managed to hop on to it at the last minute. Of course, I couldn’t find any remnants of Baba, no proof that he was there, not even a remote lookalike. Needless to say, I had had another illusion, and now my only choice of seating was a long narrow back seat near the wheels—the worst you could get on a public transport.
The air reeked of an unpleasant rustic stench, the windows rattled dangerously as the bus moved, the glass panes were broken, the cheap leather seat was torn and worse still, there was no room to put my luggage or feet. I hauled my rucksack and squeezed it between the rows of baggage and legs, blaming my idiosyncratic behavioural manifestation and choice of transport and wondered how long the journey would be. Just then the luxury bus zoomed past mine that was shamelessly staggering over bumps and the precarious mountain track, further instigating the feeling of a loser in me.
“What on earth is wrong with me? How could I even imagine such a thing? Why did I make this utterly stupid choice when I could have travelled so much more in comfort and faster than this mechanical wreck?” I asked myself. Metaphorically, the chill night breeze blew in from over the high mountains and hit me hard on the face. I pulled my woollen cap and mufflers closer and closed my eyes counting the hours. The journey had only just begun.
I must have fallen asleep for an uproar woke me up from my forced indolence. The bus came to a screeching halt as the driver pushed the brakes all of a sudden, thereby startling the sleeping and unprepared passengers. I could hear the shrieks of women and children and the angry outbursts of men cursing and abusing the driver.
“There has been an accident, right in front,” he sheepishly explained. A bus has skid off the road shoulder and fallen into a gorge, he informed. “The local villagers have come out of their homes to help. They are asking us to stop and rescue the trapped passengers,” he urged the angry mob. The same men who were screaming at the driver a minute back changed their infuriated attitude immediately, agreed in unison that it was a noble idea and their foremost civic responsibility to help the distressed. In the next few minutes, torches were lit, sleeves were rolled and a brigade of unfamiliar comrades joined hands and started working for a mission together.
Carefully guided by the locals, we descended the crags and crannies and managed to reach the site. The bus was on its side with the front smashed in. To my utter amazement, it was the same private luxury bus that had over sped and fallen into the ravine. The bus was travelling at highway speed, the driver had apparently lost control over a hair pin bend and skid down the steep hillside. There was mayhem everywhere; screams, fury and gore. The driver had jumped out in the nick of time and fled away. Injured passengers were lying in the ravine, some had lost consciousness; some others had climbed out but were too dazed and bleeding to understand the situation and some were still trapped between the mesh of steel and glass.
I spoke to a local villager, who was leading the pack of Good Samaritans. I could see he was busy gathering people, arranging for medical intervention and getting the others to rescue the ones who were still trapped inside. Typically curious, I asked him if there were any fatalities. “Not that we know as of now, except one,” he paused for a minute and added with a touch of distant pathos. “Poor fellow was sitting on the front seats just behind the driver. His neck was trapped between the steel rails that separate the driver’s compartment from the main car.”
Some called it intuition, others said it was destiny; for me, it was just one word—Baba, my eternal armour.