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Roadside Angels

What you are about to read happened just fifteen minutes ago. What you are about to read has probably changed an aspect of me from dark to white; I am now finally awake.

I am very blind and impractical indeed. If you hear what I had on my mind, you would probably burst out laughing and go around, tell your friends and make a good joke out of it. Fine, I wanted to go from Hyderabad to Pune...-- don't question what was the joke, be patient-- right, so, I wanted to go from Hyderabad to Pune on a bicycle. Yeah, you got it, laugh, by all means.  It just suddenly struck me one day while I was doing my home work (You are not supposed to laugh ALL the time!). The idea was so big, so thrilling that it totally engulfed me and I forgot all about it and started thinking about the fresh air that my lungs would savour upon, the green fields I would zip by, the blue sky, the everything. I never really thought about the center of the whole thing; the road.  

I explained the whole thing to my mum; dancing around creating sound effects, everything. Mothers are amazing; she heard the whole thing without uttering a single word. I will not talk about whatever she questioned me about. She only challenged me to go on a 4 kilometer ride, buy a cake and come back home. I was most confident at that time and bravely and happily accepted. Only one line of her made my confidence waver " Take your phone along. You know, just in case you break a bone or two." Encouraging, indeed.

I had not cycled for the past two years, and thence practiced cycling for a week in my society and then I was ready. Mum said she would follow me later.  Then I started off. I got out of my society safe and sound. I wavered a bit when I had to get to the other side of the road. It was real great for a few hundred meters. I was looking at the things around in a way that I had never looked for the past six years; the only difference was that I was in a car. The same coconut seller, the same roadside veggie vendor-- WHAM!! My thoughts were interrupted by a blue car who had supposed me to be invisible and had rammed the car into my side. I instantly lost my balance and fell with a thud. I then realized that I would not have lost control if the chain of my stupid cycle had not come off. A couple of men rushed to help me and told me the latter. A juice vendor explained me the whole scenario and that I had escaped a massive accident. The people around me tried their best to fix the damned chain by getting their hands greased in black. I snapped out of my daze and called up Mum and told her what had happened in a surprisingly normal voice. The car which was the main reason of my then present situation halted a few meters away and the owner, a lady who lives in my society, hurried towards me. She was the first person I've ever met on road who admitted her mistake. But I was overflowing with guilt and horror of what had happened. I simply refused to accept that it was her fault, albeit there was a voice yelling at me to yell at her. After a few more minutes of vain efforts and more greasy hands, Mum's car pulled up in front of me; and I really don't remember when was the last time I was so relieved to see her. When she stepped out, everyone cleared off, thinking their part of sympathy was completed and went ahead with business. All, except the juice vendor. A Hindi-speaking person. "Be thankful to Allah, little girl, that it was just the chain and no fault of yours. Let me get this." And with that, he went on to try fixing the chain. My mum was standing beside him, giving me a look that broke everything inside me. It wasn't a look of disgust or anger. All it said was " Welcome back to Earth, princess". A few more minutes passed away and I had noticed his children, a boy and a girl in school uniform and twinkling eyes calling out encouragements to their father. They were later joined by the juice vendor's wife who was on her knees, trying to help her husband. "Do you see the warmth and kindness that courses through this family? I really don't remember encountering someone that human before. What do you say, little one?" It was Mum telling out loud what I had felt inside. 

Finally, the juice vendor gave up. I was bursting with gratitude. I was speechless; for I had finally met someone who cared and showed it. Mum couldn't help but give some money to the juice vendor, who refused. " It was my duty and I have done it." This was all he said; and that was all that was required to teach me a lesson. I walked home with a loose chained cycle and a shaken, but empowered self.

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