A Walk To Remember!

ROAD RASH was a game which was a rage in the late 90’s and early 2000’s until the X-box’s and Play stations erased their fond memories. It is  a simple violent game which involved 2 motorists racing each other illegally with them hitting and kicking each other on their way to victory. We spent hours playing the game. I still have it on my PC and play it once in a while and today was just one of those days. It is probably the best way to take your frustrations out without hurting anyone other than your keyboad!

After an hour of gaming, I decided to take an evening walk. Nothing to shake off the post gaming laziness like a nice long walk. It’s 6 PM and the cool December evening is just beginning to take its effect. I step outside on the road and take a deep breath with a smile to feel the cool air within my system. Halfway through my breath an autorickshaw passes by blowing its dark fumes on my face which leaves me gasping for air. So much for fresh air! “You bloody a****** “ I cuss and immediately chide myself for losing my temper this Christmas season. I take a better look at the auto, with its black fumes, worn out tyres and dangling mud guard, it looked like it would fall apart the moment someone stepped into it. Deciding to ignore the bad start to my walk I continued.

I walk slowly but steadily soaking the festive spirit of the evening. Soon I reach the main road and glance at the Cineplex. It was running a movie the name of which I couldn’t see. So I try to cross the road to get a better look at the hoarding. I look to the right and left at the traffic and then straight for the …..err zebra crossing. Is it just me or have these zebra crossings reduced drastically? I think they are now more often seen in the class 1 text books rather than our streets. With no traffic policeman to direct the traffic and amidst the honking ruckus of the traffic and definitely no zebra crossing, I somehow manage to get to the other side in one piece! This walk is already turning into a bad decision. Why didn’t I just stay at home and enjoy my road rash game rather than be a road kill here!

HAPPY NEW YEAR said the Cineplex hoarding. I groaned. Not this one! I thought that movie had run out of the theatres after the premiere show! I immediately regret taking the trouble to cross the busy street. As I continue my walk contemplating where to head to next, I see a crowd gathered around 2 motorists who are yelling at each other. We Indians love a little tamasha, don’t we? I joined them to see what the fuss was all about. Apparently one bike guy had overtaken the other bike guy from the wrong side resulting in both of them colliding. The crowd seemed to have divided themselves into 2 teams and urging the 2 guys on who looked like they would anytime turn into a real life road rash game.. But isn’t it just a simple issue? Always overtake from the right!!!! That’s all! Added to that was the traditional honking of all the vehicles around which made the area unbearable to stand in.

All this was getting a bit too much for me, so I thought I would retrace my steps and head back home. Just then my eyes fell on the newspaper stand at the corner of the street. I couldn’t resist grabbing the Evening Newspaper and reading a bit of local news. The headlines read “Ministers caught watching a female leader picture in parliament” Well, not much can be expected from them anyways. The news below it caught my attention. “Drunk driver rams his car into pedestrian” and then it went onto to explain how the incident claimed the life of the pedestrian while the driver sustained head injuries because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Does anyone here bother to wear a seat belt I wondered and just as an afterthought looked up from my newspaper to scan the cars that were on the streets. The taxi driver honking wildly wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The sauve looking gentleman driving a Mercedes behind him certainly wasn’t wearing one either. He was in fact on his cellphone in one hand while maneuvering his car with the other. Education definitely doesn’t make you wise! There was truck driver behind them with the door on the drivers side hanging from its hinges so I didn’t even bother to look inside if the driver was wearing a seat belt. He probably was under the impression that in case of a mishap he could just jump off the truck. The two wheelers weren’t better off either. Most of them wore helmets which looked like Virat Kohli’s fielding cap. I folded the newspaper and continued my walk wary of the fact that I could be run over by any of these reckless drivers.

By now it was getting dark and the lights in the various shops by the side of the road were taking their full effect. Being the Christmas season, there were rows of shops selling santa costumes, christmas trees and stars of all shapes and sizes. I walked around watching all of them bedazzled. As I shifted my gaze from the bright lights to the streets all I could see was darkness with specks of moving vehicle headlights. The overhead street lights seemed to have forgotten what they had been installed for. Added to that, with no reflectors on the road or the dividers, it all seemed like a recipe for disaster. My thoughts immediately went to the truck without the door and wondered if he had any headlights!

I shifted my gaze back to the shops and continued my walk. Time flew and I realized that it was getting late! Suddenly a craving for another game of Road rash began and I decided to take a shorter route home. On the way I saw a group of men busy working on concretizing a stretch of road. They were wearing hard hats with lights on them. The work area was well illuminated with bright MEN AT WORK sign boards for the oncoming vehicles and perfectly visible diversion boards. Wow! Finally something to cheer about, I thought and smiled to myself. In the corner of my eye I saw the unmistakable white and black markings on the road – A ZEBRA CROSSING! Wow again! I was mighty impressed and relieved at the same time.

I rushed towards the crossing and looked at the traffic lights. It was on red with the countdown timer on 12. I made a mental note of the time left to cross the road- 12 to 1 plus orange. So there was enough time to cross the road twice!. I looked right and left and began crossing. Halfway through my path, I saw a car hurtling towards me at break neck speed. I don’t know why I looked into the car to see if the driver was wearing a seat belt, he wasn’t! I was pretty sure that the traffic lights hadn’t changed colors. He was inches away from me without even slowing down.

I froze…………..

AUTHORS NOTE –– All the sketches in the post are a work of Dr. Nishita Fernandes, who along with being my wife also strangely happens to be a safe driver!

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