Had the 9th year of the twenty first century and its spring not come, My life would have seen an absolute vertical shift from where it is today. Post class 11, like every other delusional Indian youth, I enrolled for an entrance coaching program at one of Kerala’s pioneer institutes because that is what everybody did back then.What followed was prolonged days of concurrent sessions and rigorous examinations.
Finally, like everything else, the classes too came to an end. On the final day marked as April 30,2009 I was overjoyed to go home. The announcement of classes ending at 3:00(which was 3 hours earlier than the routine timing) that day came around 11 o’clock. I have to recall that in that era I did not hold a mobile phone to my credit.
That day, In the recess break I briskly ran to the telephone booth. I looked out for a one rupee coin, found it, inserted it into the machine and quickly dialed 10 digits in quick succession. Again, unlike 2015 we all knew a lot of mobile numbers by heart then.I am not sure if it was because I was much younger then or because this device which would store a multitude of contacts was something i did not own then. I did know that he was attending a house warming ceremony of one of his closest friends. But then, as children, we believe its our undeniable right to trouble them at any hour of the day, however trivial the reason may seem. He answered promptly as was the custom. Now, my father had a history of making it late to every public occasion. Be it the school open house or the Annual day, which we believed was an event to flaunt our parents to our peers and teachers. He would invariably appear towards the end of the event when almost everyone would have left. For some reason, As a kid I felt very deeply about all that. I asked him to be present at my hostel by 3. I warned him..” If you’re gonna be late today dad, trust me, this is the last time I’m gonna be traveling with you ever again.” My dad always said that someday my tongue would land me in big trouble. Well, I did not fathom the intensity of it until later that day. Those words were probably the only reason that I had to shed the hottest tears for a really long time. With that, I placed the receiver on the stand. Now, he would definitely make it. I smiled and walked back to my class.
That phone call was the single biggest mistake of my life ever. Now that I look back, I cannot remember if it was a sunny day or a windy day. If it was a Friday or a monday. I cannot recall who sat with me that day in my class or what color my dress was. I vaguely remember the class getting over and rushing toward the bus which would take us to our hostel. There was a slight drizzle.I looked out of the window from the bus. On reaching the junction there was an unusual crowd and a traffic block. Well those were never one of my concerns. It was only much later that I realized with a shudder that in that rain…On that very moment.. Not far from where the array of buses clustered and deviated roads.. There was a black car that crashed into a bus.. And inside it was my father breathing his last breath. But that day all I thought was about all the impending packing I had to do. I did not even have the faintest idea that it would be anyone I knew, anyone for that matter. The vehicle dragged its way to my hostel. I went to my room packed all my stuff and changed my clothes. He would be waiting for my call, I thought. I went down and made the call. I dialed his number and the screen displayed the number in petite digital display font. The call went through but I immediately disconnected the call as the reply came in an unfamiliar voice. I dialed the number with more caution this time.When I called again, before I could say anything the reply came asking for who I was and the phone belonged to someone who just met with an accident. On that very moment..The skies came crashing down on me. I was shaking and sobbing and hot tears came splashing down my eyes.I cannot imagine how I struggled to hold on to listen to what the man said next. I was overwhelmed with bewilderness and nausea. I could hardly breathe. My legs went limp and my the voices in my head began crumbling. I think I fell down. The picture of my dad with a broken leg or wounded head was more than what I could take.Someone caught me before I passed out.
And then I do not know what happened. When I opened my eyes again trees were running past me in quick succession. I was on a moving vehicle. My eyes were moist and sunken. There was a hand holding me to hers.It was my hostel warden. She was one of the sisters in the convent.There was rosary on one of her hands and the other hand tightly clasped mine. The memories are vague but she did tell me everything was alright. I lay there like a drugged woman not wanting to wake up to reality.I read familiar signboards and bus stops as the car moved forward. We were heading home. That’s a good thing. I would be strong and meet him at the hospital. Maybe stay there till he gets better. I thought miserably. And in a few minutes we turned sideways to a road that would lead to my house. Then I noticed something eery about my place. There were lot of people everywhere. There was a strange silence and melancholy everywhere. The car stopped two blocks away from my house. There were vehicles parked all around. The premonitions were unmistakable. I tore out of the car liked a caged animal. I felt to the ground and stood up again. The sisters held me back. I pulled against them screaming. On top of my voice I ran to my house forgetting every caution and warning. I stood numb for a second to find my mother swarmed by the women in the neighborhood crying and weeping and shouting and cursing at the same time. I walked to her and she hugged me tight to her and wept her life out. I could still not believe this was happening to me. I shut my eyes tight and prayed this was nothing but an ugly dream. For the next 23 hours every second was a heavy blow.. The pain steering through the fleash and bones and the mind gone numb. Thousands of people came to our house .. Gave us a sympathetic glance and shook their heads apologetically and cursed our fate. My mom had lost all her pride and beauty.. She was decreased to a numb mortal in a nick of time. Me and my sister lay on her both sides gasping and weeping. I did not tell anyone about the phone call I made. It was killing me from within. Eating me out alive. The next day he was brought home. I wanted to jump out into the flames that day. I would gratefully be turned down to ash and not regret about it in the next world. I was left alive. To survive.. To exist.. To forget.. To forgive..
Then my life turned upside down. I was no more cold or controversial. There was a realization that now,there would be no one who would look out for me even if I was wrong. Life changed. Everything changed. Our life style.. Our way of thinking.. Way of reacting.. Way of living. I did go back to the dreaded city where my dad’s car crashed and had left him motionless. I did pick pieces of the number plate and glass pieces from the road. I did cry my eyes out to see the pool of my dads blood spilled and dried on the roads unevenly. And then I never visited ‘pala’ again. Full stop.
About the Guest Blogger
Anju Dinesh graduated from CUSAT in the year of 2014. She took Electronics and Communications Engineering from SOE CUSAT and is now working in TCS, Bengaluru. She is the Guest Blogger for CusatXpress Since October 2015. Follow her blog here.