The school bell rang... It was lunchtime. Ritu hurriedly spread the napkin on the table after going round the class and making sure that all the students had started having their lunch, opened her box. She had made her own recipe of oats mixed with the vegetable curry she had made in the morning. She started savoring it thinking of the next class. Rrrriiirrng. Ritu heard her cell phone ringing from the almirah where she had kept her bag. She just wanted to have a look at the phone, but then she thought of the school's rules and regulations, which forbid her from picking the call. It was 1.05 p.m. and the bell rang for the next class. Ritu took her next class and it was already dispersal time, 3.30 p.m. She dropped her students off to bus bay and hurriedly came back to pack her bags as there was a meeting to attend to. She took her bag and packed everything and rushed to the hall where the meeting had already started.
Ritu entered from the back door and asked her colleague if it was late to which her colleague replied that the meeting had just begun. She sighed and took out a book to note down the points. Her cell phone started ringing. She immediately took it and kept it in silent mode with an embarrassing smile on her face. Her colleague gave her a weird look when the phone started vibrating again. Ritu got annoyed and told her colleague that she would switch off the cell phone. She was about to press switch off when she saw there were as many as 15 missed calls. The phone started ringing again, it was her uncle. Immediately she picked it up and started whispering that since she was in a meeting she would talk to him later and tried cutting the call when she heard her uncle sobbing and crying loudly. Ritu felt something was really wrong and heard him once again repeating that his brother in law, that is, her father, was no more.....
Ritu's heart skipped a beat or two. She didn't know what she was going through. With a phone in one hand and bag on the other, she ran to her Sir, who was sitting in the chair in the meeting hall. When he saw Ritu running towards him, he just stood up and asked her in a worried voice as to what had happened. On hearing her sir's concerning voice, Ritu wiped her tears and gained back her senses and whispered in his ears that her dad was no more. Sir told her to just go and patted her back.
Ritu would have told him " thank you sir" but this time she just rushed out of the meeting in search of her son who was playing in the ground. She picked him up and ran towards her car and drove at 80 mph towards her house and reached there within no time as she stayed close by to school.
She immediately left for her native with her husband, leaving behind her son with her in-laws. She was crying throughout her journey, uncontrollably. After all, she was the one and only pet daughter of her father. She was so attached to him that even during the birth of her son, she was crying out for her dad instead of her mom.
The auto dropped them to dad's house. Ritu just rushed to see her dad, whose body laid there, lifeless. She burst into tears again and sat there next to his body until the last rites were performed.
Ritu's brother took her to the place where her dad had breathed his last. She couldn't control her tears. The goers told them about the incident. Then one of the shop keepers told Ritu about the ambulance 108, which had passed by that way, and that in spite of the attempts made at stopping it, it did not stop and after that only, Ritu's father had breathed his last. Ritu got furious and noted down the time, it was 1.15 p.m. Both Ritu and her brother thanked the shop keeper and went back home.
Ritu took out her cell phone. As it was a button phone, she looked at the missed calls list, she was shocked. There were at least 10 missed calls from an unknown number. She noted down the time, it was 1.00 p.m. She remembered she was having her lunch at that time and how she had not picked the call. Had she picked the call, maybe, her dad would have been alive.
Ritu's brother pacified her and gave her, her dad's small pocket phone book. Ritu wiped away her tears and opened the first page. She was dumbfounded to see her name written by her dad on the first line. She immediately took her phone and rang the unknown number from the missed call list. Someone picked the call and told her that he had tried to call her and inform her about her dad's death after seeing her number from the book. Ritu thanked him immensely and kept the phone.
Ritu was upset after hearing the news from the shop keeper that first she had missed picking the call from an unknown number and then..... Maybe her dad would have seen the ambulance passing by and since it couldn't stop, he might have breathed his last in a shock.
Ritu immediately made up her mind and went to the corporate office where they would park all the ambulances. She met the medical officer in charge and told him as to how the ambulance did not stop on public request on the said date and time due to which she had lost her dad.
The medical officer consoled her and apologized for the incident. He just went through the duty register of that particular day and called out for the driver in charge to come and meet Ms. Ritu because it was a big blunder committed by him.
The 108 ambulance driver came in with heads down. Ritu's eyes became wet on seeing the driver. She wanted to scream at him, ask him so many questions as to what had made him not to stop as that could have saved her dad from dying. She couldn't bear looking at him as his hands and legs were in the cast. He was sitting in a wheelchair. She just did a namaste and walked away from there.... without uttering a word........