Choose To Be Safe
Choose To Be Safe7 mins 107 7 mins 107
Richa worked as a Professor in a reputed engineering college at Bhubaneswar. She lived with her parents and brothers in the city. She had been a brilliant student all through her academics and had finally achieved her dream of becoming a lecturer in an engineering college. Recently, she was awarded her Ph.D. degree in computer science stream from a deemed university. Although her father and the so-called elite members of the family wanted her to join MNC’s right after her B.Tech, Richa stayed adamant on her path for realizing her goal. Finally, her excellent teaching abilities, as well as her passion for teaching, had been recognized by a deemed university that made her an offer a few months ago.
The day she had received the offer letter, her father and the elite members were the first people to feel proud of her achievements and praised her as if she were a bountiful harvest. Dr. Richa Dey was extremely satisfied with whatever choices she had made in her career. It had been ten months since her joining on 1st March 2019. The institute was barely a few kilometers from her home and it would take her nearly 30 minutes of a journey by bus to reach her workplace. Her job life was fulfilling in every aspect. Not only the quality of her teaching was of a high standard but it had taken her very less time to constructively build the teaching-learning environment with her students.
Although Richa was very beautiful and belonged to modern times, she ensured that she carried herself with dignity and nobility as she dressed every day in a complete set of traditional Indian wear to college. The admiration of students came with unlimited friend requests on Dr. Richa’s Facebook profile in the initial few months. But she was careful not to accept any such requests, sometimes she would keep her profile deactivated which eventually led to no further friend requests from the students' community. She believed that whatever knowledge she had to deliver and nurture within the students, Facebook simply had no role to play there.
It was a cold winter evening in the month of January. Richa had just finished taking a substitute class in the evening M.Tech batch from the Department of Mobile Computing. Her watch displayed 7 pm, as she walked through the passage of the already deserted campus. She caught up with her departmental head in charge outside the main gate. Ms. Poorvi looked a bit confused.
“Ms. Poorvi, which way are you going to travel?” Richa enquired.
Poorvi appeared comforted on seeing Richa standing beside her. “My driver has not come today so I don’t have my car. I will be taking a bus to Southern Park from the 44A bus stand. Which way are you headed?”
“Oh, I am going in the same direction. I stay at Sunny Dale just 10 minutes away from Southern Park. I too will be taking a bus from 44A.” Richa explained.
“That’s great! Let's go then. I am waiting for an autorickshaw to 44 for the last 5 minutes, it seems there is a terrific jam due to the pipeline construction that’s going on. ” Poorvi spoke as she waited for an auto to stop. The auto driver pulled in near the gate. There was a man sitting at the back. Poorvi and Richa got in as the auto sped towards 44A bus stand. Soon the auto came to a haul as it queued in a long chain of cars and buses showing no signs of movement.
Seven minutes had passed straight. Poorvi was beginning to get impatient. She was less experienced in traveling by auto rickshaw or bus.
“We can take the shortcut from the right lane behind that club”, the auto driver suggested as he signaled towards the West coast swimming club on our right. The co-passenger immediately agreed. Poorvi and Richa looked at each other. Another 10 minutes passed, there was no motion. Richa saw several other autorickshaws were taking the shortcut.
Convinced, Richa told the auto driver to take the lane. The auto sped as Poorvi felt that her co-passenger was budging towards his left. Richa was alert to step in as she loudly spoke, “Please shift towards your right. There is no space this side”, the man quickly shifted towards his right and did not disturb further.
Suddenly the auto stopped as a man spoke from outside “Take a U-turn. The road ahead is under construction. You won't be able to go.” the other autorickshaws whom they had followed also took a U-turn. Today, their luck was extremely bad. It was 7.40 pm already.
“Oh, God! My phone has got switched off. I dint get time to plugin” Poorvi now was totally out of patience. Richa asked her to relax and before she could lend her phone, she realized that they were on a different road than the one they were supposed to be after the auto had taken a U-turn.
“Which way are you going?” her voice gave away panic as she almost screamed at the driver.
“Madamji, this lane leads to 44A bus stand. It will just take 2 minutes.”
Richa was a brave girl and she always believed that God has empowered women with an intuition that they should always trust. It is just that too often, women tend to ignore their instincts.
Richa rapidly checked her bag and took off the cap of the pepper spray she always carried. Then she shared her location with her father, her neighbor and in the closest circle of her friends. They were well aware of what that meant. She removed the phone lock and switched on the emergency speed dial-up list on her phone so as to make a quick call in case they have to. She handed over a few sharp hairpins, safety pins, and a paper cutter knife to Poorvi.
A whole one minute passed as the night went colder.
The auto driver pulled in. “Get down”. The man sitting beside Poorvi ordered in a deep voice.
“Why? What is the matter?”, her voice tremored uncontrollably.
The auto driver looked back at them.
“We are at 44A bus stand”, Richa looked out as the man spoke.
Yes, the man was right. Indeed they had finally arrived. Richa and Poorvi finally got down and took a heavy breath of relief.
The autorickshaw driver gave a warm smile as they gave him an extra 10 rupees each, for all the effort he had taken to cut the traffic jam and bring them there. Safely.
Namita and Varun had arrived at the bus stand to escort Richa home. They were her best friends and stayed very close to 44A. They knew Richa was nearby and were strategizing their course of action in case she did not arrive in the next 2 minutes.
It was at 8pm. Richa was more than comforting to see them.
“I will be taking a bus to Southern Park”, Poorvi told Richa as she waived at their friends.
“Don’t be silly madam. Come with me till Sunny Dale and call up your family members over there. They will pick you up from there. Even though you will get a direct bus from here, but I forbid you to take it, as it's late. Sometimes little decisions may seem childish that leads to us ignoring our sixth sense. But a girl or a woman must always choose to be safe.” Poorvi agreed and succumbed to the part of her that dint want to travel alone. She was happy. She called up her husband from Richa’s phone.
Four of them then boarded the bus and a smooth joy ride of 10 minutes brought them to Sunny Dale apartments. Poorvi’s husband had already arrived and was waiting for her in his car.
Namita and Varun stayed at Richa’s place for the night.
Finally, as Poorvi prepared to sleep, she texted Richa, “Just charged my phone. Thanks. Not just for your company today but also for teaching me a very important lesson that I won't forget all my life.”
“A girl or a woman must always choose to be safe”.