When one man looked the other way …

This is about the “Time to change” contest by Stayfree India. You can see the Facebook page here

http://facebook.com/sftimetochange

It’s  march.  It’s no longer cold, and I enjoy the slight nip that’s still in the air  tonight.  I ride my delivery bike through the Gurgaon roads. I feel proud riding this flashy blue bike with “Dominos” written all over it. It gives me an entry into a new world. In the last one year I have seen buildings with swimming pools, with enough water to bathe a village. Homes that would put Taj-Mahal to shame. Families with more cars in their driveway than family members in their homes. Children, who spend money on a night of pizzas that would be enough for my family to survive for a week. Its a new world. Very different from the place I live. Even though the distance is not much in terms of kilometers, in reality its a different planet.

On my “delivery bike”, dressed in my uniform, I have entry into this world that otherwise I would get only a peep at in Bollywood films. The money is good too. Apart from the salary, I also get tipped well. Since Abba’s death three years back, money has been even more of a problem. I am the only male at home now.  Mom stitches a bit and earns some money. But I have three younger sisters – Shazia, Rehaana and Sania.  Shazia has finished her college this year and started working with a departmental store, in one of these fancy glass covered malls, where the air conditioning makes it perpetually cold. Shazia and Rehanna are both engaged, we will need a lot of money to prepare for their weddings. I pat  my front pocket, reassuringly. I have made good money today. The last home I went to, the young girl  gave me 1000 rs. and slammed the door shut. Didn’t even wait for change.

Now I am heading home, the glittering glass facade of the “new Gurgaon” is behind me. The traffic this side is lesser, unlike in Gurgaon where it is always heavy. I stop at a red light, next to  a few other bikers (presumably workers like me) and two or three cars. Suddenly a Red scorpion halts next to me. Making a sharp screeching sound as the tires protest on the sudden braking. Loud music is blaring from the car, but even then I can hear the sound of coarse laughter and heavy cursing. The sister.. mother.. words that my  youngest sister Sania, always makes such a fuss about.   That Sania is a crazy one, with her ideas of justice, equality and change. Since Abba died she has been spending her evenings with some theater group. They do dramas, sing songs and all that non sense in the mohallas. As if things will change by doing all this. The world doesn’t change by watching drama. But Sania, doesn’t understand this. She says “We can’t change the world with one drama, but we can change one person. And then at-least that one person’s world will change and then slowly one by one the world will change”. I don’t think so. All  idealist mumbo-jumbo, I say.

The driver of the Scorpio seems to be in a hurry and honks loudly, but the old cab driver in front with rolled down windows is not going to  run a traffic light. The window on the right of me rolls down and an empty beer bottle is hurled out. Presumably at the pavement to my left. I  have to duck , to avoid getting hit. I hear a woman scream. I look at the window in time to see a daintily painted pink toe grappling in air at the open window. A guys hand pulls it down. More profanities are uttered and the window is rolled up again. The signal turns green, the old cabbie rolls  and the scorpion screeches off .

 For a moment I forget that the light is green and continue to stare at the disappearing Scorpio.  What should I do? Should I  follow the car and try to rescue the girl. Or report the case to the police. Of course not. I am not  Ajay Devgan.  I am  only a delivery boy and not even entitled to sick leaves, forget pension.  Even if I contact the police , the chances are ten to one, that they will  harass me. Probably  call me to the police station everyday and I will lose my job. In drama it’s okay,  but in real life it’s not advisable to jump into others problems. I head home.

The lights are on at home. That’s usual these days. The girls  watch TV all night.  The door opens, even before I knock. My mom!

Ammi, how come you are still up?”

“Abdul, Shazia isn’t back from work yet!”

“She may have been kept back to check the stock Ammi, it happened last week too. Did you try her mobile”.

“Its ringing but she is not answering it” Ma, replied…obviously worried. My Ammi is a perpetual worrier. She worries about money, food, illness, water, electricity, our health, studies, god, evil spirits… The list is endless.

“Its okay!  Ammi, she gets late sometimes. Have you tried her office number.”

“No one is picking that too”

“Don’t worry Ammi,  I will ask ask Rehanna to call up her friend, that girl, who works in the mall with Shazia.”

I go into the room, my sisters share with Ammi. Rehanna and Sania are studying. For a change, I think. Using my mobile Rehanna   calls up her friend. She picks  on the first ring.  “These girls!, always live next to their phone, as if their life depends on it”, I grumble. Thankfully, the conversation is short. Rehanna,  keeps the phone and reports. “Bhai,  she says Shazia left the store at 9 as usual”.

As she hands back my mobile to me, my eyes accidentally fall on her pink painted fingers. My head gets dizzy.  The blood drains from my head.  I feel weak. As I stagger Rehanna and Sania rush towards me, trying to hold me up. But I let myself slump to the floor. Sitting between two pairs of pink painted toe nails. My mind goes back to the Red Scorpio. The one, that I had let go because it wasn’t My problem!”

“Badalna hey kuch tujhe, toh khud ko badal.  Badal, Badal, badal, insaan tu abhi badal. “

Glossary:

Abba: Father

Ammi: mother

Bhai: Brother

mohallas: Congested colonies

Ajay devgan: A p[opular action hero in bollywood

“Badalna hey kuch tujhe, toh khud ko badal.  Badal, Badal, badal, insaan tu abhi badal.

If you wish to change something, change yourself. Change, change, change human, change Now.

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16 thoughts on “When one man looked the other way …

  1. A beautifully written story, simple yet moving. We’ve all been in the delivery guy’s shoes at some point of our lives, be it an old man trying to cross the road, a beggar lying helpless on the ground, or watching & ignoring something because it’s not our problem. It is time to change. Thanks for the wake up call! Going to share this story on twitter.

    • Thanks shivya, for the very encouraging comment. Its the first time I have attempted a story.. So your encoragement means a lot.. And I love ur anologies . Each of us do indeed see many things and ignore them when indeed they should ring alarm bells in our minds .. Thanks for stopping

    • thanks so much lost and found! that is sooo sweet… don’t know if it is winning material, but its my first attempt at fiction and i was happy with the result…:) keep visiting, would love to hear what yopu say about my other posts

  2. Pingback: Is Delhi Safe For Women? My Take. | The Shooting Star

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