It was the evening of 6th December 2006. I was finishing up my project model of Science that was to be submitted the next day for the practical exam in my school. I was preparing the model from many weeks. I made it with thermocol so the mess from the cutting was spread all over the floor of my room. I was trying to clean it with a broom but instead of wiping everything off, the broom helped those particles to spread more into the corners and everywhere even in the unreachable spaces. I was periodically checking out the time on the clock. The thermocol particles were making me impatient as I was still left to study for the written practical exam. The struggle to clean up everything within a short time was truly challenging. Although we were having second terminal exams and the main board exams were far away upto two months but still the school and the teachers never missed out any chance to pressurize their students. Moreover, these kinds of activities were carried out to prepare us for the big thing that was coming soon in our life.
It was growing dark and I was still struggling with the thermocol mess. I was cursing myself for not taking enough precautions for cutting it. Actually that was not my fault, nobody had taught me the correct method. Suddenly, our telephone bell rang in another room. There was nobody around, so I picked it up. “Hello!” “Hey! I’m Shruti! Did you come to know about the news?”
“What news? I have no idea.” “My mother told me that some of our class boys met with an accident near the city and they were now admitted in the hospital where my mother works!” My eardrums suddenly opened up. I was confused and chilled at the same time. “What are you saying? I’m not getting anything?”
“Even I don’t know exact thing, but I’ll let you know about the updates as I get from my mother.” She exclaimed and hung the phone.
As I put the phone down, time stopped for a second. My brain went blank. After a minute or two I gained my consciousness and had a thought about what just happened. I decided to call Ritika, my best friend whom I trusted the most, to confirm about the news that Shruti just told me.
“Yes you heard it right! Ashish is also admitted in the hospital. I’m not confirmed but someone was saying that one of the boys with him is dead already!” said Ritika in a low tone. A cold chill ran through my body. My heartbeat increased rapidly. I was shocked to hear Ashish’s name as he had come to my home just a few hours ago to enquire about my project and discuss about the next day’s practical. As she hung the phone, my brain activity suddenly increased. Hundreds and thousands of things started popping up in my mind because of which I became extremely impatient. I went inside the kitchen then came back to the room and again walked to the kitchen in dilemma. I was shivering.
Suddenly my father walked in from outside. I at once told him everything that my classmates said on the phone. He nodded his head as if he already knew about everything. “Hmm, Seema mam called me and gave me the news!” “Now?” I enquired in desperation. “Let’s see!” and he went to the kitchen. I just watched him standing impatiently near the door. All my energy was draining out; I had no idea how to react. I went to my room and restlessly started putting things from here to there. The phone rang again. I literally jumped from my room to that room and picked up the call. My heart beat reached to its maximum pace level.
“He’s no more. I want to tell you the secret that he kept undisclosed between him and me. He liked you very much since his childhood but could not tell you!” sobbingly she said these words about the other fellow. I had no idea what to reply back. A sheer silence broke out between us. Once again my brain went blank. The only sounds that I could hear were that of the storm created inside my eardrums and that periodical sobbing voice from inside the phone. After few minutes she hung up the phone without saying anything more. I froze out and like a statue stood near the telephone for many minutes.
My parents came to that room where I stood, discussing about something very serious. I knew that they were talking about that accident only. Papa picked up his jeep keys and mumma wore her jacket. It seemed they were going somewhere, most probably to the hospital. I asked papa and he then said that he was firstly going to the school to pick our principal mam and then they would together go to the hospital. I asked him that I wanted to join them too. He said, “What you’ll do there? You stay here only!” I gave a look to convince him like a small child. And then he said, “Ok fine! Wear some more warm clothes first” I rushed to my room to get a pullover and then followed them to the jeep.
We reached the school in no time and waited for a while for mam. As she appeared near to the jeep, after watching me inside she exclaimed with a surprised look, “What are you doing here? Is she also going?” Papa nodded. She settled down in the front seat without asking anything anymore. My father was actually the secretary of the school and obviously he was an important personality who had to be equally present in all the school related issues. That day too principal called him to present along with her in the hospital.
We reached the civil hospital within half-an-hour. As we entered the building, I saw people rushing here and there, some crying hardly and some sympathising the others. They all were unknown faces even to my parents and mam. She called someone to know about the exact location where we had to go. She hung up immediately and exclaimed, “Anurag’s dead body is already taken by his parents to his home. And others injured are admitted to a private hospital.” Everybody rushed towards the jeep and headed towards the hospital that was located just a few kms away. Until then I didn’t know exactly who-who were injured neither I knew about the reason and the location of that accident.
When we entered the hospital we saw a huge crowd of known faces. They were our village neighbours and Ashish’s family tree and few of my classmates. Many of them were crowded near the staircase. I went near to enquire and peeped through the shoulders of the six-feeters’. There I saw few nurses operating the external wounds of Ashish, who was lying on a stretcher. I was a little relieved to see him conscious. The nurses dispersed the crowd and requested them to settle down. Now his face was clearly visible to me. His face cramped and trembled as if he was feeling an immense pain as the nurses operated his lower body parts. I could feel his pain just from his expressions. Papa pulled me to go to him and talk. I slowly walked towards the right side of his stretcher and stopped near his shoulder. He looked at me with hopeful eyes and I gave him a faded smile to console him that everything will be alright.
After few minutes, the nurses took him to the operation theatre that was located just beside the staircase. Everyone’s heart started pumping fast. The doctors took many hours to operate him. Meanwhile we settled down in the benches in the hospital’s hallway. Mumma sat beside his mother. She was crying endlessly and mumma was consoling her. I had never seen such a scenario in my life. My heart was pondering so much. I had no idea what and how I should react in that scenario. Still I went near to his mother and put my hands on her shoulders to let her know that I somewhere understood her pain and fear.
Some of my classmate boys were standing in the lobby and discussing about something. I went to them to know about everything. They told me that few boys went to the city and while returning back Anurag lost his control over his scooter and collided with the parapet on the roadside.
I then went to my father. He was discussing about the arrangement of the blood as asked by the surgeons. Everyone was then calling their knowns for the blood of that specific group. He was having a rare blood group of O negative. Seema mam and his father’s blood matched, so they went to the blood bank for extraction. Meanwhile everyone started vanishing and at last only a few of us including his family, classmate boys and my family were left. It was getting colder. We all sat in the cold metalled benches in the open lobby of the hospital hall.
I was just thinking about the past events and our school days. I remembered a glimpse of Anurag staring at me from the first bench in the last free period, and noticing him doing that I ignored it as if he was just lost in his own world. I never got a clue neither I ever cared about these kind of stuffs. But now everything from the past was just a history and nothing could be extracted from it anymore. That chapter of my life was shut close without even opening up. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and diverted my mind to Ashish. I prayed to god to save my best friend cum brother as I could not even imagine life without his guidance and naughty fights.
In the meantime Seema mam came back from the blood bank. I didn’t notice her coming but she saw me sitting alone with my eyes closed for praying. She noticed the fear and tension in me so she tried to distract my mind by sending me to the upper floor of the hospital to a room where our third classmate, who was also hurt in the accident, was being treated. I went to the door of the room, then hesitated as I was all alone and even didn’t know what to say. I accumulated all my courage and knocked the door. And it opened at once. There were many of his family members sitting and standing all over the room. I got stumbled but many of them were the familiar faces so within no time I became comfortable. I saw Virender on the hospital bed, unconscious with so many bandages around his head, hands and legs. I was about to say some consoling words to his parents but instead they started comforting me by saying that he was and would be fine very soon. Their positive words literally helped me to get some relief.
After some time I came back to my parents who were seated in the hospital’s lobby. Just when I reached near them the door of the operation theatre opened. We all ran towards it. From inside, few nurses came out along with Ashish on a stretcher. Few male attendents helped them to relocate him to a room in the upper floor. They took him through the staircase in a hurry and organised him in a room. Then they dispersed out the entire crowd that had again gathered around the room. They consoled that the operation was successful but they would further comment about his condition only when he gains his consciousness. But still most of us were relieved. After knowing about him, papa and mam decided to go to Anurag’s house.
The silence of the lonely roads that took us towards his apartment in the colony was haunting me. It was not that I was afraid of the dead but the heart tearing wailing voices of his family and everyone around was definitely stressing me out. For the first time in my life I was about to witness a scene that neither I had imagined nor had that courage to handle. My heartbeat was getting faster and faster as we started walking towards his apartment from our jeep. As we approached near, the loud voices of crying and the laments could be heard clearly. My body started shivering.
We enterterd the hall of the apartment and found many people crying and standing everywhere. Just in front were his mother and sister weeping loudly in the absence of consciousness. The scene was extremely disturbing; my heart was about to get out of my body, so I immediately went out of the hall. I wiped my tears as two off my class girls came near me. We supported and sympathised each other. One of their neighbours comforted us by taking to his apartment and gave us blankets and a heater.
We came back home in the late midnight. I could not sleep the whole night. My parents slept with me to comfort me.
In the early morning papa and ma started discussing about the incident while still on bed. It seemed they too could not sleep that night. I was awake too but they thought that I might be sleeping. And then they heard some shouting. Papa said, “O..O.. I think that happened” But doctors said that he was alright thinking this I froze out on my bed. Then his phone rang, he immediately picked it up and jumped out of his bed. Mumma too went out behind him. I was still frozen on my bed with the stream and rivers endlessly flowing from my eyes. I was getting impatient, so went out of the bed to the other room and then to the bathroom in the ground floor. I wanted to cry hard, very hard so I locked myself inside and tried to loosen my heart. But that was not comforting me. My sister knocked at the bathroom door so, I wiped my tears and tried to pretend that everything was normal.
I came out and stood at the backside of the house. The reality was not acceptable to me. I didn’t want to believe it anymore but my eyes were not coordinating with my brain and heart. They were emitting out the burning tears. One of my immediate neighbours saw me there. She called my mother. Once again I wiped all my tears and pretended to be normal. When my mother came out, I requested her to go to his house which was just a few steps from ours. While walking with her I tried to control my feelings not shedding a single tear. But as we reached his house, the voices of crying once again ignited the stream of tears and my eyes started betraying me. Mumma didn’t take me near the crowd because she knew that I would not be comfortable there. I too didn’t have the courage to face his family and relatives who were in immense pain.
Then Shruti came running from the road. We saw each other and hugged ourselves tight. That was the moment which took away all the energy from my body. My hands and legs went numb and they became stiff that I could not move them at all. My head started spinning around and I could not breathe properly. I was literally stuck in that position. She tried to release herself from me, even I wanted to but my body was not coordinating with my brain. At last she forced herself away. But my hands were still frozen in that position. Everybody started moving inside to his house but I was stuck with a new problem. Somehow I forced my legs to move but hands were still up in the air. I took two-three deep breaths to calm my body down. Then I entered the room where his dead body was laid. The moment was extremely heartbreaking. I wished he could open his eyes. Never had I cried that hard, my emotions were not under my control. After sometime papa took me away from that place as he saw me extremely disturbed.
Losing a brother and a friend is very depressing thing. Accepting the reality of death was very difficult for me at that point of time. Even for many years I dreamt of him normally playing and laughing with me as if he had never gone. And most of the times I believed those dreams as real. After more than a decade, he is still alive in my memories. Some of his words still motivate me difficult situations of my life.
From that incidence I learnt a very important and a life changing lesson, that we humans are just material beings. And there exists a supreme being who is sitting above us all, who has already set our life’s journey, path and time. We always plan things for our future but are overconfident about the existence of that future.