Found By Accident
Found By Accident20 mins 1.4K 20 mins 1.4K
Tatanagar or Jamshedpur, by whichever name you call it will forever remain etched in my memory…
I was visiting the city for the first time. It was a business trip. I am Sumit, 32 years of age, bachelor. I was then a Deputy Sales Manager of a renowned company, posted in Mumbai. I had an appointment with the Materials Manager of Tisco regarding some major supplies. The meeting had gone well and I hoped to secure the order the next day. I could have gone back to Kolkata by the evening train, where I had some work at the Company's Regional office. Then I could have taken the evening flight the next day, back to my location in Mumbai. But no...I just wanted to seal the deal myself and collect the Purchase Order letter personally. So I stayed back ...and that did it!
The meeting was over by 3 pm, so I was back in my hotel room quite early. I was having a stroll in front of the hotel, not able to figure out how to spend the evening all alone. Had just stepped on the road looking at the signboard of a restaurant on the opposite footpath, trying to measure out whether it would be good enough for an evening snack. My mistake, I didn't check my right… took two steps a little too fast… then heard the beep of a speeding scooter… the rider braked on time...I saw this at the last moment… tried to step back fast… my heel went into a small pothole … my ankle twisted...and down I went.
I was seeing stars, my leg was hurting terribly. Some people came running, the auto rider came running too. I tried to stand up, but couldn't. Two men held me and hoisted me up on my feet. I stood on my one leg, but as soon as I put my left leg down, shooting pain ran up my ankle and leg and I sank to the road again. The auto rider's voice sounded urgent, "We have to take him to the hospital immediately, possibly his ankle has a fracture. Can you please get a car?"
There were generally no yellow taxis on Jamshedpur roads in those days, don't know about now. Cabs had to be booked on an hourly basis. The people who were helping me were just casual bystanders and nearby hawkers. Nobody took any active initiative to look for a cab. The bike rider then requested some of the guys to help me up on the scooter's pillion, as the rider went and brought her scooter just beside me. Yes, the rider was a lady. I was in no mood or physical condition to see how she was. She was in a salwar kameez and seemed to be middle-aged. Her face was not properly visible though, as she had not removed her helmet.
Some men almost physically lifted me on the scooter's pillion seat. The lady, already seated, asked me to hold her tightly from the back and to keep my damaged foot lightly on the pedestal. She said the hospital is close by, just a few minutes away. My mind was not working, I was in terrible pain. I did as I was told. I was at least thankful that she was taking the responsibility of reaching me to the hospital. Otherwise, I didn't know anybody in this city. She drove very cautiously avoiding potholes and bumps.
In the hospital, things moved quite fast. The moment she entered the gates, she could get immediate service from stretcher boys to lift men to nurses coming forward for immediate attention to me. Then I was wheeled inside and the resident doctors took over. Suddenly I found the lady no longer beside me. I didn't even get an opportunity to thank her. It was actually not her fault…the accident I mean...it was my carelessness. Her scooter didn't even hit me, she managed to stop it just in time and swerved away from my body. I should have at least thanked her once for bringing me to the hospital.
But then I saw her again. At first, I didn't recognize her, because I had not seen her face earlier, it was under her helmet. But I recognized her voice, she was constantly talking to me on the way to the hospital...giving me confidence, urging me to hold on to her tightly. That was a little difficult though. Even through my pain, I felt as if I was trying to hold a tree trunk, she seemed so big. Not fat, but solid abs and waist.
When I saw her again, she was in a white uniform, with a senior Nurse's apron and hood or cap, or whatever they call it. She was assisting the doctors. When she spoke to me, I recognized the voice and the typical South Indian accent in her Hindi and English. She said very softly to me, "Don't worry Beta, everything will be fine. I'm here with you. It's not serious, just a minor fracture. You just stay calm and relax, I'll handle everything."
By that time they had given pain-killing injections, X-rays had been done. I was now able to think clearly and practically. I suddenly remembered, "Where's my purse? I have my office ID card and credit cards and ATM cards there. Some cash too."
She smiled and said, "Don't worry Son, your purse is with me. I got your name, address, and company details from there only. I'll give it to you at the right time." She took out my purse from her uniform pocket and showed it to me. And also my mobile. I had totally forgotten about that.
She was beside me full time, right through all the medical processes. Once my ankle was plastered, she came and asked me, "Son, where do you live here, I mean, I have got to organize the ambulance accordingly ?"
I told her that I don't live in this city, I've come here on a short official tour. I was put up in a hotel. She thought for a while, then said, "You cannot stay alone in the hotel now. You are in no condition to walk. So do you want me to arrange a hospital bed for you? You will need to stay here for some days, or weeks possibly. In that case, I need your medical insurance details."
That was shocking news for me. Weeks in this hospital! What was she saying? I don't have the Mediclaim details with me here. All those are in my flat in Mumbai, and there's nobody there in my flat...I live alone. So who will get those details sent over to me? What a mess I've landed myself into!
She was watching my worried expression closely and asked me what's the matter. I told her my problem. Now she was in a fix. She thought for some time. Then as if she had come to a decision, lowered her face to my level, and said, "Son, since you cannot stay like this alone in a hotel, would you mind if I took you to my house? Actually, there's nothing required to be done in the hospital now for your treatment. You need rest and medicines, which the doctor has already prescribed. I don't know what your Mediclaim coverage is, but just for lying in bed, why should you exhaust your insurance limit? I suggest that tonight you can come to my house, then we'll talk it out, what is to be done next."
I said, "But why will you take all this trouble for me?"
She laughed silently, "Because I am the cause of Your trouble, Beta."
I said, "No, no, it was not your fault. I was not looking and stepped onto the road."
She smiled and said, "Ok, we'll argue on that point later. Now let me organize an ambulance for you. I can't take you on my scooter this time, my flat is not so close. You just lie here. I'll make the arrangements and be back soon, I'll have to buy your medicines too."
I said, "Wait, what about the payments here? You can use that credit card or debit card of mine in the purse. I'll tell you the codes."
She smiled her sweet smile again, "Son, I work over here as a senior nurse. I'll handle the bill part. You give me later on, now just relax." She left me in the bed and went off.
About 20 to 30 minutes later, I was again on a stretcher, this time I was put inside an ambulance. The driver followed the lady's scooter and in due course, it seemed that we had reached her house. She came and told me to wait for some time so that she can go and organize the bed as I won't be able to sit. She returned soon after and told the ambulance driver that the stretcher won't go up the stairs, as it was not wide enough. She asked him to pull the stretcher out of the ambulance and she will manage from there. Once the stretcher was out and the driver held one end and the other end was hooked inside the ambulance, the lady came and stood beside the stretcher. She bent over on me, put her right hand under my back and her left hand under both my thighs and straightened up. I was up in her arms in a cradle position. She asked me to put my arms around her neck. Then she said thanks to the driver and told him that he can go back. She walked with me cradled in her arms to her building door and up the stairs. The stairs were narrow, so she held me quite high on her body, near her breasts. She was climbing up the stairs, carrying me in her arms, very carefully, so that my legs did not hit the railings. Her flat was on the first floor. Since she was moving slowly, careful that my broken leg does not touch the railing, it took some time. It was then that I properly noticed her physique. She was tall, about 6 feet definitely, her body as I said earlier, was solid as a tree trunk. She was probably around 45 years old; not so fair; but her face was sweet, with high cheekbones and a square jawline. Actually, my brain was so dazed earlier, with the intense pain in my ankle that I was not able to properly take notice of such an amazing figure. She was carrying me like I was a small child in her arms. Of course, I was rather a small man even by Indian standards, 5'3 in height and merely 63 kgs in weight. Her weight, as I later came to know, was just around 95 kgs. So I was actually being carried like a rag doll by this giant of a woman. She had kept her flat door open. She carried me inside. It was basically a 1 BHK flat as we call it in India. She put me down and made me sit on a 3 seater sofa in the small drawing-room as we entered. She put my broken plastered leg up on a stool to keep it horizontal. She closed the door and sat down beside me. She said, "My name is Rajlakshmi. I'll tell you more details about me later, but first I need to know something. See, your Tee shirt and pants had got soiled when you had that fall. So we had to change you to the hospital dress which you are wearing now. I have your shirt, pants, and slippers in that packet there. I also brought a fresh dress from the hospital. But I need to bring your own dresses from the hotel, where you are putting them up. Tell me where is your hotel ?"
I said, "I'm not much aware of the streets here, but it is where I had the accident."
She said, "Ok, then it is a little far from here. It's already 9 pm now, I'll get them tomorrow then. So before I clean you up and put you in bed, you finish the necessary phone calls. Here's your mobile. First, call up the hotel, tell them what happened and that you are not returning tonight. You say you are staying with a relative. Also inform them that sometime tomorrow, I will go and collect your things, pay their bills, and check you out from there. Next, you call up your family, wife, or parents and tell them what happened. Ask them not to worry, you are in the safe hands of a senior nurse. Also, you can inform your office seniors and tell them that you are not in a position to walk for some days and you will send them the medical reports by tomorrow through email. In the meantime let me freshen up and change from my hospital uniform. Then I'll come and attend to you."
She went inside. I called up the hotel and informed them. I called my boss in Mumbai and informed him too. He was quite worried. I decided not to inform my parents right then, they will unnecessarily panic. I then waited for Rajlakshmi or should I address her as Didi. She was older than me by 13 years or more as per my estimate. I looked around the small drawing-room. The room was very soberly decorated, nothing over the top. I was just thinking about the amazing physical strength of the lady, how effortlessly she lifted me up the stairs to her room as if I was a child in her arms. And to think of it that she was a middle-aged 45-year-old woman, whereas I was a full-grown adult man of 32 years. And I was carried up by her like I was her toy. And what was this, she was always calling me Son or Beta? Did she think I was much younger? She was definitely not old enough to be my mother's or aunt's age.
Rajlakshmi came into the room wearing a pale blue cotton salwar suit. She looked very fresh. She came and sat beside me. "So, how are you feeling now, Beta? Pain has reduced or not ?"
I said, "Yes, that injection you gave me before coming, has worked."
She placed her big hand on my head and ruffled my hair, "I've got all your medicines and injections. Don't worry, I'll not let your pain come back."
I said, "But all these medicines and hospital bills... you haven't taken any money from me yet."
She smiled sweetly, "Don't worry son, you are in no condition to run away. You settle down, there's enough time, I'll tell you the amount. Now come let us get freshened up and then we'll eat. I've already started my cooking." She started unbuttoning my hospital gown.
I said, "What are you doing ?"
She smiled again, "Don't feel embarrassed, I'm much older than you Beta. Besides, you let the hospital nurses undress you and change your clothes in the hospital when you were writhing in pain. You were in no condition to object then. I'm also your Nurse. You are in no condition to stand on your own feet now. You need my help in doing everything. Don't feel shy, I'm like your mother."
It was true that I was in no physical condition to object. And especially the way she was treating me, calling me son and beta, there was a motherly touch in her attitude and words. She undressed me fully, taking utmost care not to hurt my broken leg. Then she picked me up from the front. Asked me to put my arms around her neck, and wrap my legs around her waist. She stood up with me, to all of her 6 feet height. I was really feeling like a baby in her arms, hanging on to her neck, wrapping my legs around her waist. She carried me to the washroom. I was not able to stand, so she made me sit and held me all along. Then she picked me up again and set me on a tall plastic stool in the washroom. She wiped my face, hands, legs, and body with a wet hand towel. Then she picked me up again from the front. I again put my arms around her neck and wrapped my legs around her waist. She smiled looking at my face and said, "My little baby." She didn't notice, but I could clearly see in the bathroom mirror, her reflection carrying me with no clothes on. I actually looked like a small child in the arms of this amazon nurse.
She carried me to her bedroom. She had a big double bed in the center so that you can get into the bed from either side. She laid me down carefully. Then she brought the fresh hospital gown and very carefully put the gown on me. Then she left me to attend to her cooking. I lay there now observing her bedroom. This room was also small, but very neat and clean and again with a very sober, sedate decoration.
I started thinking again. What was happening? This lady is literally mothering me. She is actually treating and handling me like I was a 3-year-old boy. In the manner in which she was looking at me, I could feel the motherly emotions in her eyes. I am a grown-up man, but when she undressed me and then in that condition, when she lifted me and carried me to the washroom; wiped my whole body with a wet hand towel, and then carried me back to the bed, there was nothing but motherly love oozing from her face and eyes. I was just not understanding this. I somehow had to unravel the truth behind this.
She came a little later with her tray of food. She kept the tray on the side table beside the bed. She sat beside me on the bed and helped me to sit up. She then started to feed me with her own hand. I said smiling, "Didi, I can eat, my hand is not injured. Why don't you get your plate, so we can eat together."
She smiled but did not stop feeding me. "You called me Didi... good… But I would love it if you called me Mother. I don't know what you call your mother in your language, but in our language, Malayalam, we say Amma. It's my long-cherished wish that one day I'll find a cute boy who'll call me Amma."
I said, "In our language, we say 'Ma'. I have my 'Ma' at home. And now I've found my Amma."
There was a total transformation in Rajlakshmi. She put the tray down on the side table and rushed out of the room. I was flabbergasted. What happened? I thought she would be happy, she wanted me to call her Amma. Then why this?
Within a few moments, she was back. She had washed her hands. She came and picked me up in her cradle. Her face was radiant with a beaming smile. She bent her head and planted a big kiss on my forehead. She moved back carefully, ensuring that there was no jerking to my damaged foot. She carried me to the corner of the room. They're on a table there were lots of idols of Gods and Goddesses. The wall behind had pictures in photo frames of Gods. I could see varied types of Hindu Gods and beside them images, idols, and symbols of many other religions, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsi, and some I could not recognize. She knelt down before the table holding me in her cradle. She advanced her hand as if to show me to the Gods, then prayed something in Malayalam closing her eyes. When she opened her eyes, she was smiling. She looked at me and said, "I'm so happy today, after twenty years I've found my son."
She saw the perplexed look on my face, smiled, and again kissed my forehead. Then she stood up from her kneeling position, holding me on her cradle. She came back to the bed and made me sit as earlier when she was feeding me. She picked up the plate and started feeding me again. I started, "I don't understand Amma…".
She didn't let me complete, "I'm telling you, my son. You see twenty years back, I lost my son. Of course, I don't know whether it was son or daughter, because he was not born yet. My husband and I had met with an accident in Kochi. I lost my husband, but I survived. But I lost my baby I was carrying in my womb, I was four months pregnant. I knew that I would find him someday. God will definitely give my child back to me in some way or the other. Today, when I saw you on the road, I had a premonition that I have known you for a long time. I lost control of my scooter and was almost hitting you. Then I knew it... I lost my child in an accident, I've found my son again in an accident. That was God's way of giving me the message that He was returning my son to me."
I was confused. Is she thinking that I'm the reincarnation of her baby she lost 20 years ago? But I'm 32 now. 20 years ago, I was already 12 years old. How can I be her son's reincarnation? But she was so happy, how could I say this to her then?
She was feeding me in silence… Tears were rolling down her eyes, but her lips were smiling. She saw the confused expression on my face and said, "You are possibly thinking that I've gone crazy. You might be thinking that you are already in your thirties and I'm talking about losing my baby twenty years back. I know beta, that you are not a reincarnation of my lost child. I've studied a lot on this subject and I believe that there's no such concrete evidence that reincarnation is possible. But I had faith that God would give me somebody as a replacement for my long-lost child. And today I've found you."
My food was over. She took away the plate. Then she brought a bowl and a jug of water and washed my face. She then brought her own plate of food and sat beside me. She then asked me to tell her everything about myself. I told her about my parents, my sister, my education, and my job. She listened attentively. By that time her dinner was over.
She gave me my medicines; turned off all the lights in all the rooms; turned on a dim light in our room and came and lay down beside me. She told me that if I need to go to the bathroom at night, to wake her up. I must not try to go by myself. She warned me that if I fall again, then the damage to my ligament will be severe. She put her hand on my forehead and pressed it, to help me sleep.
But I couldn't sleep. She asked me why I was restless. So I told her….One was that there was this pain in my leg, a persisting one. Also, I couldn't actually sleep lying down straight. I always slept on one side, but with my broken leg raised on a pillow, I couldn't turn sides. I was also worrying, how long will I have to be bedridden in this faraway city. She said not to worry about that. I'll be able to walk in 2 to 3 weeks. Also till such time that I'm fully fit, she said that she had taken leave from the hospital and she will take care of me day in and day out.
Saying this she sat up on the bed. She sat cross-legged, rested her back to the bedhead with a pillow. Then she scooped me up in her arms and laid me across her lap. My head resting on one of her big soft thighs. My body rested across her wide lap, my legs protruding out on the bed. She put two pillows underneath my broken leg to raise it a little. She put one big palm on my eyes, closing them shut. With her fingers she fondled my hair; she pressed my temples, sometimes my arms and thighs. She was trying to put me to sleep as a mother rocks her baby to sleep lying on her lap.
I said, "Amma, I don't know how to thank you. If you had not been there today, I don't know what would have happened to me lying on the roadside."
She laughed, "Do you thank your Ma for taking care of her son? I am your second Ma. And as long as I'm there, nothing will harm you from now on. I'll dedicate my life to you. From tomorrow I'll start looking for a job in your city, Mumbai. We have our chain of hospitals there, I'll try to get a transfer there. I'll ring up our Director tomorrow morning itself. From now on your Am'ma will take care of you always wherever you go."
I don't remember when I drifted off to the land of dreams….