I still remember that day very clearly. It was 21 April 2006 and it was a Friday. The April weather in Kuwait was very pleasant and the sky was blue and clear with specks of white clouds. There was no premonition of the horrendous things that were going to happen that day. The CRY chess tournament for children was being held that day in India International School, Mangaf. My daughter was participating and both of us were getting ready to leave home. The tournament was to start sharp at 8 am and we were getting late. Few blocks away, it was the same situation in Ramesh’s home. The only difference was that his daughter was the defending chess champion. That same Friday, there was a prayer in his house and his wife had insisted that he also takes his son to the venue so that she can get some ‘me time’.
I and my daughter got into our car, a silver color Mitsubishi Lancer and headed to the school taking the Fahaheel expressway. I took the Mangaf Sabahiya exit and took the left at the signal. I was going to the school for the first time and I was told that I had to take the first right after the signal. I had also been cautioned that this exit is quite unrecognizable and I was prone to miss it. As luck would have it, I missed this exit to the school and was wondering how to reach the venue and that is when I saw an ash colored Toyota Corolla parked with hazard lights on right after the first U turn on the road. A man was busy on the mobile. I slowed up behind this vehicle and immediately figured that it was Ramesh at the wheel and his daughter sat beside him on the front seat and his son was seen on the back seat. I parked behind his car and walked up to his car and knocked on the window. When he pulled down the window, I told him that I am also going to the same venue and that I shall follow you. There was some soft music playing in the car and I could see a school bag in the back seat besides his son. His son was wearing a golden color kurta. His daughter appeared pensive besides Ramesh as she was getting late for the competition. And follow him I did but till the signal. I saw with horror as Ramesh made a mistake and then right in front of my eyes it happened! It was as if real life was imitating reel life as a public transport bus flew out of nowhere and rammed into the Corolla reducing it into a lump. Due to the impact of the collision,the car was vibrating with a loud noise which shattered the calm surroundings of the Friday morning. The time was 8.30 am and the car was already emitting smoke. I applied the hand break of my car and catching hold of my daughter rushed to the car. Ramesh was slumped on the driver’s seat unconscious. I could not see the other people in the car. I released the safety belt from Ramesh and slowly dragged him out of the car and lay him down on the road. By then, some passersby having witnessed the accident stopped and rushed to help me. One of them called the police and the others set about taking out the children from the car. His daughter was unconscious and the car door on her side was badly mangled. When they took out his son from the car, his golden colored kurta had gone red with blood and he was gasping for breath. One of the passersby advised me to take my daughter away from this gory scene and I went back and sat her in my car standing at the signal. The police and the ambulance soon arrived and they set about the task of shifting the injured to the hospital. At that moment, Ramesh regained consciousness and his first comment to me was ‘How are my babies? I told him that there was an accident and his children were injured and asked him for his home number. After the ambulance had left the scene and having known as to which hospital they were being shifted, I called the home number of Ramesh. By then the prayer program had commenced at his home and one of his friends answered the phone. I briefly mentioned about the incident and told that all of them were badly injured and asked them to come to the Adan hospital. Thereafter I went back to my car and slowly navigated my way to the school. My nerves were jangling badly when I crossed that signal. At the school, I left my daughter in the custody of an acquaintance and rushed to the hospital to witness the poignant scenes about to unfold. When I reached the hospital, the injured had already been admitted and the family members and Ramesh’s friends were yet to arrive.
Ramesh’s son was declared dead soon after 11 noon. Ramesh who was himself under sedation was informed about it. His wife was a picture of dignified composure soon after her arrival in hospital. As somebody remarked even though she looked ordinary on the outside, she was extraordinary from the inside. When the news about the son’s death was conveyed to them, they took it bravely. Little did they realize at that moment that life had dealt them a very sour lemon. But what did they do?
After a quiet consultation, they decided to donate their son’s corneas to the hospital. As regards their daughter, the doctors advised that she is in coma but were optimistic about her chances of survival.
However as they say that when sorrows come, they come not as single spies but in battalions. The following Friday, 28th April, around the same time when the accident had happened last week, the doctors declared the daughter dead. Ramesh was not in Kuwait as he had gone to India for his son’s funeral and his wife decides to donate the corneas as well as liver and kidneys of the daughter to the hospital. When the daughter’s body was being moved to the mortuary, she individually thanked each and every doctor and nurse who had fought hard to save her daughter. Ramesh who was in India performing his son’s funeral rites rushed back to Kuwait and the following Sunday, both the parents depart to India with the body of the daughter. I remember at the airport, they did not forget to thank me for my help. All of us standing at the departure terminal that day had only one thought-how will they cope with this irreparable loss? But time is a great healer as they say. Slowly Ramesh and his wife began to rebuild their lives. Throughout this traumatic phase in their lives, they held together giving each other succor and solace to cope with the situation. Their close friends and relatives stood rock solid behind them giving them emotional support. Ramesh rejoined his job in Kuwait and his wife joined a school for children with special needs as a volunteer. When I had visited their place, they said that there is no point in shedding tears as this won’t bring their children back. Few years on, his wife shifted back to India and very soon they adopted an underprivileged girl child and now they are both back in India leading a new life.
Ramesh and his wife made sweet lemonade out of the sour lemon that life handed them that fateful day. And that is the message I learned that day-Let us learn to live life with equanimity. This quality helps us to take sorrow and happiness in one’s stride with the same sense of acceptance. We cannot control our external circumstances but how we choose to respond to them with determine the direction of our lives.
||Mr Pichumoney Viswanath is working as a senior finance executive in Kuwait and Gulf Link Holding Company. His interests include reading , public speaking and writing on human interest issues . He is also an avid Toast Master.