I am sharing what 'I Saw and I Learnt' at BlogAdda.com in association with DoRight.in.
Class XI is when you feel the most confident in your life. You're supremely confident after an okayish Class X result, buoyed by the recklessness that one generally associates with a 16-year old, and, well, you know what I mean... an endless list of things that sound very good, lively and vibrant.
So there I was, cycling madly with all the energy I could muster, tearing across through the city as I knew it to be in the 1990s. There were just a couple of flyovers in the entire city; the word mall was pronounced as ম্যাল (myall); Oasis and Arnica Plus advertisements shone on the highest billboards; soft drinks were sold in glass bottles; Azharuddin used to lead India; RD Burman was still living; internet was almost unheard of; and DD 2 was a new concept.
This was the small stretch of Raja Subodh Mallik Road between Jadavpur and Sulekha. The part had subsequently broadened due to some mysterious common sense shown by The Corporation. But at that point of time, it was narrow, and traffic jams were quite common.
But this was around 7 AM, and the morning of a shoshthi, which meant that the roads were almost empty, and whatever was on wheels, moved at lightning pace (by Kolkata standards, that is). I was cycling as fast as my legs could carry me.
There was a solitary truck parked at the left of the road. I could see a truck coming the other way, and I estimated two things:
1. I would pass the standing track before the moving truck would pass me.
2. Even if I was wrong on that count, when the moving truck would pass the standing one, there would be enough space for my girth to pass through comfortably.
Both turned out to be wrong. Both.
I had gone past midway of the truck, and was approaching the window when the other truck came tearing down upon me. Well, almost.
I have no recollection of what exactly happened in that split second. There was movement of some sort towards my right, something very fast, the way they show in movies; there was the distinct sound of the driver swearing; for a split second I thought something grazed my elbow, but I was mistaken; I suppose it was just that I wasn't used to the idea of death taking casual strolls in my proximity on a regular note. All I remember vividly was that my hands were sore of clinging on to the handles for less than a second...
Okay, now that I had a life, I was obviously keen on making the most out of it. On my way back home, I was soaring (okay, not soar: my legs were sore, so it was a rather slow movement, and that was a pathetic pun) over Garia Bridge. It was a small bridge with a nominal slope, but it did have a slope, and that is what mattered.
There was one of those trucks with ominous-looking rusty iron rods protruding from its posterior. What the hell, I thought, after what had happened earlier in the day: this should be easy to avoid. I gripped the brakes casually.
They weren't working.
Panic set in; and then, somehow, miraculously, my brain turned functional, unlike the previous occasion. I had the nerve to swerve my body to my right, the bicycle along with it, and then, with the bicycle at an angle of 45 degrees or so to the ground, I did manage to touch the ground with my shoes. And then, like they show in movies (albeit for speeding cars), my vehicle came to a screeching halt about a foot from the bunch of rods, my heart throbbing quite audibly (well, it seemed so).
Saved. Again. Twice in a day.
I'm not one of those who believe in destiny. Hence there's no reason to believe that I was saved twice on the same day for a perfectly valid reason. Some might suggest that I should never sulk again, since I'm living on borrowed time already, having already outlived more chances than what life offers any normal individual.
Forget it. Enough for the day. Enough of nonsensical sulks.
I have never risked my life since that day. Or at least deliberately, that is.
PS: Don't tell Ma. Please.