Aug 14, 2007


He is a journalist. A regular fourth-estater. The sort who calls up people, follows up on the news and writes pithy phrases about the state of the nation. I'll call him Sameer. She's the same, but a girl. I'll call her Shaheen. Today they are working on a story together and are traveling to an appointment together. Or at least that is the plan. Shaheen waits for Sameer to turn up in her car. I don't whether they planned to take a rick together or get driven down in Shaheen's friend's car.

Mahinder is a cynical, world weary auto rickshaw driver who has seen too much and not received enough. And the final character, Vinay, has a vital job, but not something anyone would aspire to. He drives a garbage truck. It's a battered old truck, gigantic in size, rattly by nature and sometimes he has a drink early in the morning as a pick-me-up that will help him put up with the smell and the routine.

Sameer spots Shaheen's car across the road and tells Mahinder to pull over behind it. Mahinder nods an all right and starts his U-turn. Shaheen, meanwhile, has not spotted the auto and wonders where Sameer is and whether they will be make the appointment on time.

Vinay is enjoying the one luxury he is allowed. The roads this early in the morning are deserted, there are no cops about and he can drive as fast as wants. He floors the pedal.

As Mahinder starts to turn, he notices that a yellow garbage truck is hurtling towards them. A moment later, Sameer and Mahinder realise that the truck is weaving slightly and will not stop in time.

Vinay spots the auto and with an unprintable exclamation, stands on the rusty brake pedal. The din of rattling metal and a angry, growling diesel is replaced by the rending noise of a worn, dusty brake shoe rubbing hard against the walls of its home. The trucks begins to slow.

But not quickly enough. Vinay realises that he is going to hit the rickshaw full tilt and there's little he can do about it now. Mahinder tries a burst of acceleration hoping it will clear the truck's path in time. But this story is about to come to a crashing end.

The truck swerves towards a parked car trying to avoid the rick which has suddenly picked up speed and is heading to that place as well. Damn.

With a rather meek metal on metal sound, the truck hits the autorickshaw. The flimsy metal cage collapses instantly under the onslaught. Mahinder and Sameer hit the car and the truck's momentum begins to flatten the rickshaw been the radiator grille and the car boot.

The trucks wheels climb the autorickshaw and just stop short of the car. The metallic explosion has ended.

Vinay now panics and realises that the people will lynch him if he gets caught and hauled out of the truck. At a complete loss, brain showing a blue screen, he throws the truck in reverse and begins a cruel backtrack that further crushes the autorickshaw. As soon as he is clear, Vinay takes off and the last we see of him is a yellow truck, slightly more mangled hurtling into the morning.

The bystanders are too shocked to react and finally when the police turn up, they realise that Mahinder and Sameer are inside the autorickshaw, dead or alive and while the car is a bit mangled, there seem to be two physically fine people inside.

It takes an hour to get Sameer out. Shaheen's gone into shock and has lost short term memory of the accident, but has only a few scratches to show for it. When Sameer is finally extracted from the wreckage, he appears to have no face left, lots of cuts and bruises and is whisked away to hospital, except that in Mumbai, whisking people anywhere takes its own sweet time. Mahinder died instantly.

Its been three days now.

Shaheen's still not spoken a word. Doctor's say she's too rattled, but will eventually will be all right. Sameer officially has a broken jaw and another fracture . Actually, the doctor's are going to have to reconstruct his face from the eyes down.

No one really knows what happened to Vinay.


dobereinerr said...

Whatever happened to Mahinder?

dos.wheels said...

What is this? A rendition of how life comes and goes with little value in India Inc.? Or a translation of a real-life incident with a little imagination thrown in?

Ok, I've crossed the three question limit (my own). Over to you.

Anonymous said...

wow! is this a true story? whatever happened to the rickshaw driver?
damn, that's very frightening. i had one such accident myself, where the rickshaw driver pulled a u-turn in the middle of a one way street.

Revhard said...

Ouch , this one hurt. While I sure do think that handling a rickey old truck/bus with stiff gears & sterrign inside hot vibrating cabins on hard torn seats makes for a tough job and warrants better working conditions as in Volvo cabins, just what is it that makes CV drivers so damn careless ?

Education isn't reaching out where it matters.

rearset said...

My fault. Seems like I skipped over poor Mahinder. Well, I've added the bit and am sorry to report that Mahinder is no longer with us. This, friends, is a true story.

Hitanshu said...


Two years back, as a temporary cripple while my rt ankle was piecing itself together following a qualis' kiss of (near) death, I used to sit in the disabled front seat of BEST buses.

They are no less, any hour of the day. I sometimes can never understand how those beasts even stop. Actually, BEST should be forced by law, as should CV makers, to use proper bucket seats - the OE seats are no good. They have no horns, and in the time the driver takes to honk, he can't steer.