So we went for a walk at 9.10 pm to get an ice-cream for her. We had just crossed the Saraswati Mandir, engrossed in our own lamentations (how we don't have anyone who would take us out for ice-cream...), when there came a squeal of tyres, a screeching brake and the crunch of metal on the road. I turned back.. to find a head lying at my feet. I almost screamed, but found the rest of the body attached, so refrained from adding a few more noises to the scene. It was an accident.
The driver of the scooter had fallen head-first , with his vehicle falling on top of him. While I comprehended the mess, I heard a wailing from somewhere in the background. The source of the cry was a woman who appeared to be hurt. A motorcyclist stopped and a few boys also came to help the man up. After picking up the driver's specs, which lay thrown off a few feet away, and depositing it on the pavement, I went to see the woman. P and I were the only two girls on the scene, so it was upon us to talk to her. As soon as she saw me, she beckoned to me, held my hand, pulled me down on to the pavement beside her... and immediately plonked her head on my lap !!! While in this uncomfortable position (for me, that is) , she kept up her wailing, "My foot is broken.. he broke my foot.. I have two small children at home.. what will happen to them after I'm gone..." along with a string of censored words for the driver, which made even the guys standing around blush. I gingerly patted her back, all the while wishing she would get off my lap , and assured her she wasn't dying. Firmly (but kindly) I told her her foot was, in fact, not broken... she didn't have even a scratch. By that time a crowd had gathered around the pavement. Several people gave invaluable suggestions from the background. A Genius came up with a brilliant plan "Give her some water"... as if I was a standing fountain. This started her off with a fresh bout of wailing... this time for water. I looked at P..."Where do I get water from?" she responded. I decided it was time to change the topic. I told the lady to try and stand up and walk around a bit. My idea was met with universal approval, with several people from the crowd joining in encouraging her to stand up... though from a safe distance. P from one side, and I from the other, pulled her up to her feet. She protested and tried her level best to keep sitting (probably she wanted a nap on my lap again). That thought spurred me into action and despite her best efforts to the contrary, I managed to heave her to her feet. She stood unsteadily for a moment.
At this point, our man the driver decided he wanted a piece of the action too. He limped towards us. That's when I saw he was walking using a cane and his scooter had two support wheels. He came forward and stood facing the three of us (who were looking like a team for a six-legged race). He gazed at P, blinked then asked "Are you all right?? Can you walk??". A bit taken aback, P replied," Yes sir. I'm fine. But she's the one who's hurt". Regardless of this fact, he peered next at me,"And you... are you okay?". I knew the answer to this one, " Yes sir. I'm fine. But she's the one you hit". A bit bold, that last bit. I think it finally got into his head. He blinked, then asked us, "What is she feeling right now??". Not how, but what.He looked drunk. P and I looked at each other, then at the lady held suspended between us, then at the man. He decided we were too slow, and asked her directly, " Aunty, what are you feeling at this moment??". Anyone could have told him this just wasn't the moment for that particular question... and he definitely shouldn't have called her Aunty. She started telling him exactly what she felt... about him. A string of abuses later, he retired dazed. Just to get things moving, I asked her to try and walk a few steps. She resolutely held on to my shirt, pulling it this way and that, and with maximum effort, hobbled a few steps. I thought my shirt was on the verge of being ripped to shreds, so I picked her hand off my shirt and deposited my own hand in hers.
By this time, another Bright Mind asked me where she was from. As if I've known her all my life. At this juncture, Panditji, a bearded acquaintance of hers who happened to be passing along, informed us she lived in some Vihar or Nagar in IIT. He ventured to add that it was basic humanity for those present to get her to the hospital. To which the Bright Mind replied, "Panditji, daadi badhne se insaniyat nahi badh jati". Touche. A silence followed this particular remark, during which I fought to keep my face straight. A new crash broke the silence... a motorcyclist and a scooterist had collided in the background while the crowd took up most of the road. They cursed each other and moved on. That was the breaking point, and P and I burst out laughing. The laughter gave way to a sigh of relief as a car stopped and the driver got out and offered to take the lady to the hospital. We practically carried her to the car, pushed her onto the seat and ventured to shut the door, when I realised she was still holding on to my hand. "Who's coming with me to the hospital?" she demanded. Not me. "Aunty, our in time at the hostel is 10 o'clock. Don't worry, you'll be fine". There was a lady and her daughter sitting inside the car. Before they knew what was happening, I managed to wrench away my hand, shut the door and P and I sped away in the opposite direction at full speed.
The last thing I heard was someone sighing, "Man... did you see that car. That lady is lucky she's got an opportunity to sit in it", to which his friend replied, "Ultimate, yaar....."