I was eight then. My mother had the dinner ready but, at around seven PM, my father suggested to eat at our favorite restaurant. I and my brother weren’t the kind to let the opportunity slide. So, we jumped around drowning away our mother’s protests about wasting home-cooked food.
Soon, we got ready and jumped on the scooter. (Yup! Two adults and two semi-grown non-adults on a scooter–that’s how the India traveled then and still does.) A few kilometres away, on a lonely dark road, we saw a car approaching. My father moved the scooter to the side of the road to give it path.
And the world went black.
I began crying with pain and fear. I could hear the voices of my family but we weren’t able to see anything. In a world devoid of mobile phones, we had no source of light. So, we had no idea of what was happening. The road was deserted at night, so no one could have heard or helped us.
But someone did. All of a sudden, we could see faint light above us. Everything after that is blurred in my memory. I remember that someone pulled us all out of the deep hole in the road and drove us all to the hospital in his car. If he hadn’t helped us in that moment, we, blinded by the darkness, could have fallen inside the sewage opening directly beneath us, and drowned.
We never heard from him again.
I don’t remember his face, but I have always remembered him as a hero. I had often thought of him as an angel helping us–only I never knew what we had done to deserve that help.
Many years later, my father, now retired from service, met someone at the railway station. The deep respect in this stranger’s voice belied the fact that he was a high-ranking officer talking to a retired person. While he chatted with my father, I asked mom who he was. She told me a story I had never heard before.
When I was five, my father had found this man on a lonely road. He was gravely wounded and bloodied from a road accident. Other vehicles had driven on, afraid of robbers or the possible blame of causing the said accident. But my father had driven him to the hospital before it was too late for him.
It was three years before our own accident.
Then, I knew why the angel chose to help us. Little acts of kindness go a long way…both ways.