Saturday, July 11, 2015

Meant to be Broken…

The recent tweet by Hema Malini has many of her readers shocked. She blamed the father of the child for his daughter’s death in the accident she was involved in. Seriously guys, you are shocked? Isn’t this par course?  The road is the jungle and your survival depends on your deftness and luck for that day. Why blame somebody, anybody, for the accidents that happen?

After all, might is right and it is the survival of the fittest. It is a jungle raj on every road in India, and blame cannot be lightly placed on one party. It could be one who is speeding, or another, who breaks a rule and pays mercilessly for it.

We see it day in and day out, this mindlessness. A few months ago, I was driving down a fairly free road at a comfortable pace. I saw a car hurtling down the road – from a spec in my rearview mirror, it filled it in no time. It was to my left, I was slightly towards the middle of the left. I kept an eye on my mirror as I switched the left indicator on. The car continued to hurtle unaffected by my indication. The turning neared and yet the car showed no signs of slowing. I paused, startled, for now the man had covered the distance without slowing even once. Only near the turning, the car slowed for the briefest of seconds. It hadn’t stopped and if I turned, we would crash without doubt. No such considerations deterred the man behind the wheel.  He crossed me from left. If he had turned left, I would still have been assuaged. But he took a right, right in front of me! If I had been hit and killed, even then it wouldn’t have made news because both of us – that driver and I – are ordinary people leading ordinary lives driving ordinary cars. Considering I escaped unscathed due to some surprising presence of mind, I can only say as the potential victim, I carried out my responsibility of being cautious. Any harm would have been my responsibility, right?

A friend, for instance, saw green (signal, dumbo, not money) and started crossing when a speeding van jumped signals. Her leg was nearly severed (nearly, not actually, severed) and she was in bed for six months. Sheer madness to think green is meant for crossing the junction. It should always be amber in your head, whatever the signal in the signal post.

Take another evening last week;  a sterling example of my negligent behavior.

I parked my two wheeler – a 2001 Scooty Pep, even more ordinary than my car – to the left of the road; looked to the left (traffic was not moving on the other side of the road), then right to look out for traffic – which was nil; and stepped out on the road. Now, you may say, ‘Wonderful, girl, just the way to cross!’ I stepped on the road, thinking only of what I have to purchase when something heavy banged against my leg. Two men on a bike on my side of the road, coming on the wrong side drove straight into me, the bulk of the metal hitting my left leg. They were slow, what a blessing, or else I would be in the hospital too. But I am no lean, negligible person. Even at night, couldn’t he see me on a well-lit street?

Now, tell me, who is at fault? Me, of course! I should have known that people will come from any side – right side, wrong side, upside, downside (we see it in action movies)…. It is my responsibility to keep my person safe! If I don’t, then how can I blame others if I get hurt?

Having said that, the reverse, unfortunately, is also true. If a Mercedes sees green light and takes off and a bike or an auto or a smaller car decides to ignore the red and cuts perpendicularly, can the Mercedes be blamed for the accident? If a biker chooses to suddenly jump lanes and is knocked down by a bigger vehicle coming in the correct lane, won’t the car get blamed for the accident? If a tempo suddenly shoots out of a side lane on to the main road, and an oncoming lorry crushes it, whose fault is it?

When it is a matter of life, it does not matter who takes the blame. Big or small, vehicles carry people. We seem to value life cheap – even our own. The new rule is – drive like a king and destroy anything that comes on the way; or get destroyed.

I have learnt to use the beautiful alapadma mudra even better than in dance. When in doubt while driving, just use this mudra and have the question, ‘What?’ on your face. It will confuse victims, potential or otherwise. And you can leave convinced you are not to blame.
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