The Crazy Old Man
The Crazy Old Man
The traffic signal
Vinay was driving his Dominar 400 very fast. He always rode his bike a little fast. Today he was riding with a lot more speed than usual. He had reasons for riding faster that day. His friend had an accident, and he was heading to the hospital. He was rushing through a traffic signal trying to cross before it hits red. He remembers that corner very well. The traffic signal was famous for a crazy man. The man used to stand near that traffic signal from 9-12 every morning and control the traffic. That day in a hurry, Vinay did not notice the man. He kept reminding himself why everyone called the man crazy. Well, when there was already a traffic light and police officer managing traffic, what was he trying and directing. His dress, a torn t-shirt two sizes small, was not giving any confidence. Before he could finish his thoughts, he reached the hospital. He went into the hospital to enquire about his friend. He learned that his friend was in the operation room, and he should wait to meet the doctor.
Vinay and Raja went to the showroom to buy a bike. Both exactly knew what they wanted. Both brought a Bajar Dominar 400. They both took delivery of their bikes. Vinay did not wait too long to hit the top gear and push to accelerate to top speed. Raja, on the other hand, drove at medium speeds. Before Raja reached their paying guest accommodation, all the friends have surrounded Vinay and were in awe of Vinay's new bike. Vinay laughed when he saw Raja riding his bike at low speeds. He commented sarcastically, " Why does he need a performance bike?".
Raja and Vinay were friends from their childhood. Raja was the one who acquired bike driving skills first. His father was one of the few who had a bike in the neighbourhood. He later taught riding to Vinay. Any bike they got hold of, Vinay was the one to ride it first. Raja let Vinay have the first go. One of those times, they got hold of an Rx100 bike. It was not any Rx100 but was one which was a full package. Whole aftermarket work was done on it, all the bells and whistles. Getting a hand on one of it for a 19 year older was not dreamt of. As usual, Vinay started to drive it. Raja settled to sit in the back seat as Vinay speeded on. When it came to Raja's turn, Vinay asked Raja, "Can you drive this?".
Raja replied, "Don't forget, I was the one who taught you driving."
Vinay laughed, "Sachin too had a guru, can he play as well as Sachin?"
Years went by, but they remained friends. Vinay might say a word or two to Raja but they were very good friends. They went to the same college and later to the same company. They stayed together in the paying guest accommodation in Chennai. In a few years, both had an opportunity to buy a bike. Without further delay, they bought bikes. From that day on they both travelled to the office in their bikes. Raja suggested they do a bike pooling, pick each one's bike on an alternate day to the office.
That morning when they were riding to the office, Raja noticed a man standing near the traffic signal. He was standing very close to the corner of the traffic signal, and people were riding without giving much attention to him. Raja was worried that someone might hit the man. He showed the man to Vinay and expressed his concern. Vinay did not mind the man much and asked Raja to ignore it. The next morning Raja was driving and reaching the signal, Raja noticed the man again. Vinay did not notice the man, instead, he noticed that Raja stopped the vehicle in an orange. He was shouting at Raja for not speeding in the orange. Raja got curious about the man. He wanted to know who it was and why that man was there every day. On inquiry, he only found out the man stands there every morning between 9 AM-12 PM, nothing more.
A few days later, they were heading to the office as usual. Vinay, however, was riding very fast that morning. Raja asked him to slow down. But Vinay was not listening to Raja. He was speeding his bike up and trying to cut through corners. Raja gets to know later that Vinay had a meeting that morning, and he was speeding to reach early. They came to the signal where the man stands. Vinay notices the light was orange and was about to change red. He tries to accelerate and cross before the red light. That was when Vinay notices the man for the first time. The man comes waving and trying to stop their bike. Vinay quickly hits the break to stop his motorcycle from hitting the man. Vinay starts shouting at the man.
"Are you crazy? If I hit the break a little later, you would have died. The light was orange, and I would have easily crossed the signal. Who are you, by the way? Who gave you the authority to stand here?" Raja was trying to stop Vinay all this time. But he was not heeding to Raja. Finally, vexed Raja pulled Vinay's attention to the right. There was a speeding auto that hit a bike ahead of them. If they did not stop, it would have hit them too. The man did not wait for them, he went back to his post and started to wave at people to slow down.
That day Raja and Vinay were chatting during their lunch break. Raja was wondering what would have happened to them. Vinay said, "Nothing would have happened. I would have noticed the Auto and stopped the bike."
"Don't be overconfident. That man saved us today."
"That man, that crazy man. Have you noticed his attire? He saved us, and you believe that. I am worried one of these days he will be the reason for an accident. I am also worried, someone might kill him in the accident."
Raja started thinking about what Vinay had to say. What if people are stupid like Vinay and not notice the man? What if they end up killing him?
That morning Raja woke up early to go to the office. He had an early meeting that morning. Vinay did not wake up by the time Raja was ready. Raja told Vinay he had to go to the office early and left. Vinay was looking forward to driving his bike without Raja to slow him down. Vinay never heeded to Raja, but it was not fun when someone always keeps on complaining.
Vinay got ready and was having his breakfast. He picked his mobile to browse through Facebook. That was when he noticed there was a missed call from Raja. He thought to call Raja after the breakfast and started to scan through Facebook. He finished having breakfast but forgot to call Raja. He was putting on his shoes and perfume and picked his helmet. He got onto his bike and picked his mobile to connect to Bluetooth. That was when he noticed six more missed calls from Raja. Panic hit him, and he immediately called Raja. The one who answered the phone was not Raja. Instead, it was a nurse from the hospital. She told Vinay that Raja had an accident. Vinay quickly started his bike and headed to the hospital.
Real Encounter with the man
Vinay was waiting for hours. The doctor finally came out after a long surgery. Vinay went to meet the doctor and asked about Raja. Raja's situation was critical. Vinay comes to know Raja needs another surgery. The cost of which was very high. Vinay started to think about arranging cash for the surgery. He was about to call the HR and the office for some support. The doctor then asked Vinay to follow him. Vinay was about to encounter something he never was expecting. The man was lying in the next bed to Raja. Vinay thought the accident was because of the crazy man. Raja might have not noticed the man and had an accident, and the man got injured with Raja. The man got up and started to speak to Vinay. Vinay was angry with the man and started shouting at him right away. The doctor stopped Vinay and said, if not for this man, your friend would have died today. Vinay was shocked.
The man was giving blood to Raja. When done, Vinay said sorry to the man and asked him what happened. The man said it was not Raja's fault. The lorry coming from the other side drove very fast in the red and hit Raja. Raja had no time to react. "I brought him immediately here," said the man. Vinay was feeling bad for calling the man crazy. He was ashamed of himself. He turned to check out the man and he was still in that torn t-shirt. A torn t-shirt and waiting at the traffic signal has given them the wrong impression. It was already 3 in the afternoon. The man asked Vinay if he wants to have some lunch. Vinay was not thinking of food, but he felt the man might be hungry, and he should pay for the man. So Vinay agreed, and they headed to the canteen for food.
In the canteen, Vinay wanted to know more about the man. He thought he wanted the man to have some food and then ask him. That was when the nurse came to their table. She told them the surgery was about to start. The surgery can, however, begin after the amount was paid. Vinay was getting ready to pay with his card. The nurse then told him he has to pay 3 Lakhs. He did not know how to react to that. That was when the man picked his card and gave it to the nurse. Now Vinay got more curious to know who this man was.
Knowing the man
They finished having lunch and were waiting outside the operation theatre. Vinay finally asked the man who he was and why he was standing at the traffic signal. The man started to tell his story.
His name was Mohan, and he was the owner of two big automobile showrooms. He had two sons, Ramu and Ravi. Ramu was a patriot from his childhood. So, one morning when he told Mohan he was going to join the air force, he was not surprised. Mohan was worried, however, of his son's safety. Till that day, they took the utmost care of him and his brother. They did not let them go to school trips, play dates with friends, or anywhere worried for their safety.
The mother tried everything from emotional blackmail to literally begging him and crying for him to stay back. He did not listen and left to join the force. Mohan was proud of the steel will of his son. He could not believe their son had it in him. Ravi got into teenage, and now he started to get adamant. The mother was worried about losing him too. So she gave him everything he wanted. He stopped going in the car with the driver and bought a bike. Ramu used to come home once every year. The first time he came home was very tough on his mother. All his banians were red from the blood. The training was so tough no officers' banian remained white. The mother told Mohan this and was crying all night. Mohan needs to be tough for both of them. He cannot show his feelings, and they were not easy to suppress. He was a father, a human, after all. Ramu and Ravi had a great time whenever Ramu came home. The day Ramu was to leave, his mother will cry her heart out. Ramu had a lot of words to say about his country so much but had very few words to comfort his mother. The only comfort she had was the call she gets from him every other day. Mohan might not tell Ramu, but he loved to hear his voice over the speaker.
One evening the call did not come. Mohan was comforting the mother. Maybe he was busy, let us wait for the call, till the next day. He was scared too. But he gave the comfort to his wife and in the process comforted himself to sleep. The morning the call came, not from their son but his office. Ramu was in action on the previous day and his flight was shot down and Ramu died in the flight. Hearing this, the mother lost consciousness. She could not believe all her worst fears were coming true. A few minutes had passed before Mohan started to search for Ravi. Ravi was not at home. He picked his bike and went out to college. Then, he got one more dreaded call. Ravi had a bad accident, and he died in the spot.
"I lost both my sons that day. Losing Ramu, I was devastated. But he knew where he was heading. He knew the risks of his job. Ravi, on the other hand, was supposed to be comfortable under our roof. What was his mistake? Why should he lose his life? Some idiot somewhere in a hurry killed him in a split second. I can kill him, his whole family and friends, but who will bring back my son to me? No one, it is no one," said Mohan
The t-shirt Mohan was wearing was Ravi's. It was the one he wore when the accident happened. From that day, he stands there in that corner where his son had the accident and controls traffic.
"That day, I not only lost my two sons, but I also lost my wife too. She is alive, but she no longer speaks to anyone, including me. I went through the CCTV clips a million times till now. An idiot drove fast to cross the signal before red. My son just about to start in green was hit. A few seconds here and there and my son would have been alive. As a father, I have nothing left in the world. I am waiting in that corner to make sure no other parent has to face what I had to go through. I may not succeed in that, but I will at least try."
Vinay had nothing much to say. With a tear-filled eye, he said, " I will be very careful driving hereafter".
P.S.: Based on true events. I see this man every day. I have nothing much to tell that man, and he is not expecting anything from us. Just make sure you drive carefully and never be a reason for your family's sorrow.