Saturday, October 29, 2005

42. You Just Never Know

Just this week, I witnessed an almost fatal accident. In a morbid sorta way, being party to someone's near death has somehow sparked me to life. Anyway, this is what happened.

Headed back from work as usual, going the normal route, there's this stretch of road that's quite a climb. That's never stopped people from flying up or down at reckless speeds, me included. This is round 9 pm, the roads usually moderately busy at this time. People on the way home from dinner or heading out for a pint. I'm heading up as usual, quite knackered after a day's work, mind preoccupied with the usual disturbing (dastardly?) thoughts. I hardly even realise the car in front of me, or the motorcyclist in front of it. I'm just aware of them as how a normal driver would be aware of the cars around him without even paying any particular attention.

Then, out of the blue, I suddenly realise all is not well. The motorcyclist ahead does a funny sorta jig. A bit of swerve to the left, a jerk to the right. Then he drops in a heap. The bike and him. The car behind him misses him by inches. How do I know this? Because I'm right behind. Everything happens in slow motion. He drops. Brakes screech. The car swerves to the left. I'm behind, by a quite safe distance. So I manage to stop easily. I think fifteen seconds pass between the time he falls and the time I stop my car. So I pull over to the left. I notice the driver in front of me, the one who almost maimed this particular motorcyclist remains in the car. I'm first out. I rush to the guys side, a mixture of concern, curiousity and excitement.

My first thoughts when I see him is pure relief. Because he's conscious. More so because his head is still intact and there are no bits of brain on the road. There's also little blood. But a little blood is always way too much by my reckoning. But his eyes are open. He looks up at me, still dazed, and asks me what happened. I rather stupidly answer that he fell. He looks up at me again, clearly confused. By now the driver from the other car has joined us. She's young, perhaps a college student, and she looks anxious and genuinely concerned. I ask her if she knocked him. She says no. She asks if he's ok, I don't really answer because I don't know. She goes pale. This entire conversation happens right in the middle of the road.

At some point of time, a few cars must've stopped because now we have about 3 to 4 people who's joined us. They ask what's happened, the usual stuff. One of them says he's a doctor. He gives the motorcyclist a quick body check-up, the motorcyclist at this point is still laying sprawled on the road. He asks a few questions. Does this hurt? Blurred vision? Can you feel your legs? The motorcyclist answers that he's ok, but still asks what happened. He's clearly suffered a slight concussion, that's my expert medical advice. I notice that he has quite a few cuts on his elbows. No massive blood loss though. Some of the others move his fallen bike to the side. I observe this all silently. Maybe I should say something.

The roadside doctor decides that he's fine and heads off. A few of us stay back with him. Coincidence of coincidences, turns out one of the people who stopped was a former colleague of his. He calls the guy's colleague. Then we carry him to the side. He sits, still in shock. Many cars pass by and slow down at this juncture.

A few minutes pass and his colleague arrives. When he sees that he's ok, he offers to take him back to Pizza Hut. Yeah, did I tell you he was a pizza delivery man? The guy says he's dizzy so we don't move him yet. An elderly gentleman says he'll take him in his car even though his parked on the opposite side of the road. I offer my car meekly. No one moves for a while. His colleague gives him a mini-massage. We all chat a bit by the roadside. Talking about what happened, speculating on how he fell. He still asks us what happened. I keep telling he fell.

About fifteen minutes pass now from the moment he fell till the time we finally escort him to the elderly gentleman's car. His colleague thanks us profusely. I'm almost embarrassed to be there. Why is he thanking me? I didn't do anything. In fact every one thanks each other. We say our goodbyes, and share warm smiles in passing. Every one goes home.

Something's happened here. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's because I rarely see it. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. It seems that we're not as disconnected and selfish as we think we are. This minor incident has shown me that. Though I didn't get the names of the people I spent those 15 minutes with, I know everything I need to know about them. The most important things.


Anonymous said...

i'm still shocked u left at 9.

Ruben said...

so - how did he fall?

joe said...

i reckon he must've lost balance