Its a real incident happened to me on April 28th, 2013 at 23:15 when I was on my way to Indra Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. My intention was to surprise my husband, coming from Frankfurt by a late night 01:05 hrs flight.
I am a 25 years old girl who messed up with a kind of sophisticated businessman, in particular exporter. We got married without consent of my parents and other folks. Eh ! It was a love marriage I did with a man 10 years older than me, and he never gave me even a single chance to regret.
Work makes him travel abroad quite frequently. Yet, he always tries to be with me on phone or internet until I fall asleep in nights. A nice, decent, caring and protective husband… And, ruthless, unforgiving man for those who cross his path to success.
For this man, I wanted to do something he never expected. My mistake!
I wanted him to see me first of all, and I wanted him to hug me first. He was coming back home after a three month long business tour. How would he react when he would found me in waiting lounge. Desperetly waiting for him. He would jump out of his skin is what I thought.
But… destiny has some other plan.
It was he who ‘forced’ me to learn driving, and I use my NEXIA XR within Kanpur City limits, but these days I was daring to drive husband’s SUV Honda-CRV. I have driven on NH2 whole day as I never cross the speed limit of 50Kmph. When I reach capital it was 19:30 or so, I drove to GK-II first where we have a double storey well-furnished house. My husband bought it for his foreign buyers to stay instead of paying heavy Bills of Five Star Hotels. A couple Rishi and his south Indian wife Moni was living on ground floor on minor rent. Rishi has a job with IBM, Moni stays at home. My businessman husband takes them as caretakers who pays too. How foxy!!
I stretched my legs there, stuffed myself with hot Sambhar Moni cooked and got out for airport. Rishi offered his driving skill but I turned it down. I could have taken one of our drivers, I wanted only my man to be with me. I wanted to make him feel that even I could do anything for his smile. And this feeling made me forgot that I was in Delhi where solo female is taken as an opportunity. I forgot what happened to that Medico in December, when she board in a bus with her boyfriend. Although I did my graduation from DU yet roads were looking stranger. They refused to identify me, and a woman’s instinct suddenly filled me with panic, that made me press the Honda accelerator hard. The power SUV reacted like a cobra as if its tail has come under my shoes. It was now at 80KMPH, rolling smoothly. I was lucky to be in a car. I noticed no woman on road either at bus stop or anywhere. I was in deep thought for I couldn’t see a delivery van ahead of me was turning left, and in Delhi, I rammed Honda into the van.
Little things can sometimes change your mind and give you a kind of clarity you didn’t expect. Well. May be not little things. Umm…a road accident that could have potentially been fatal may not count as a little thing, right? No matter.
It changed my perspective of Delhi, a city I love and loathe with almost equal passion at different times.
The city — known in equal measures for its wide roads and bad on-road behaviour, for its grand old monuments, ruins and history as for its crude cultural upbringing, for its effervescent political climate and magnanimous cultural outlets as also for being the “rape capital”.
And it is this identity of being women-unfriendly that weighed on my minds as I met with an accident beyond the usual Cinderella-hour for most women — post 11 p.m.
Deep thoughts, time, my safety were the mix thought for what I couldn’t notice the deliver van ahead of me was taking left, and I hit van’s side at 50Kmph.
After ascertaining that I was alive within, but outside, the car was hurt (mercifully because of the thin traffic at night) I quickly stepped out to see how much damage the car had suffered. No. I could not drive it away now. The tyre had burst, despite having an extra wheel I could not do anything for I still have to know where the tool box is kept in a car, there was nothing to do but wait for the on-road rescue company to, well, come and rescue me and car. Turns out far too many vehicles had broken down that night and the tow truck could not reach me for another hour.
I found myself trapped, to be molested. Visibly shaken and worried I stood there looking desperately at the wheel, hoping it would miraculously heal itself so I could get going, when one by one cars started stopping — and my guards rising with equal force. A couple of young men out for a drive (presumably), an elderly gentleman and his wife, families, single women, single men. Stranded bang on an intersection I suddenly felt overwhelmed with all the offers of help. Able-bodied men offered to change my tyre and promptly got down to it too. They laboured and dirtied their hands to help men.
Police patrols kept a constant watch on us. One by one more cars stopped. More people offered to help. The elderly man and his wife stayed with me like I was their own child. Only after my friend’s father arrived on the scene did they move. And even then, the man insisted he would be back in 15 minutes after dropping his wife home.
I felt like hugging every person who stopped to help, even if they were just token gestures. (But maybe Delhi isn’t quite ready for that, yet!)
During that one balmy hour my perspective of rude, forever-in-a-hurry Delhi, which appears to constantly blow hot and cold, changed. Underneath all the harshness there’s still a lot of hope. It may not be perfect yet. But, maybe one day we’ll get there too.
*Author of this post is my wife.