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Killer Blueline

I can’t describe the unpredictability of life. But worse, how painful it sometimes can be. What can be more horrific than this? One moment she was a young bubbly, energetic woman, who loved her freedom and independence so much that friends would often tease her about it. If there is one person who knows every nook and corner of Delhi, it has to be Shanta, they would quip; she would even go to the movies alone, something I would chide her about simply because Delhi is so unsafe. The next moment, this young woman is fighting for her life in a city hospital, her one leg amputated –- run over by Delhi’s ruthless killer bus, the Blueline. And doctors have put her under a critical 48-hour observation.

I am just back from the hospital and am fighting emotions. What happens if her other leg is severed too. For a while, as an outsider, as a friend I can give her the strength and say those familiar, tiredly repeated words --that life is not over yet, that, after all, she is not the only person in the world to suffer this and that there are ways to take care of it. But heck no! I can’t! I can’t come to terms with such a reality and I wonder if she will too. It’s not easy, it’s just not easy to say that life will be the same. It's all easier said than done.

Shanta lost her father last month. One tragedy already in the family. There is an uncanny truth I am beginning to see in some of the old sayings . In our community, for instance, they say that if you lose your near and dear ones, you have to be very careful the first one month as the spirit of the one close to you can come and hound you to take you with him/her. This may sound irrational but I have two instances already before my eyes. The first happened with my friend Natasha. Her accident was equally worse. Just within a week of her arrival in India, she lost her grandma, who she was exceptionally close to. A week later, I, Natasha and Geeta were having dinner. When she was driving back home, a vehicle hit her car leaving her with a spinal injury (the other occupants in the car escaped unscathed). Luckily for her, her surgeon uncle reached the spot and wasted no time in taking her to one of the biggest spinal injury hospitals in Delhi, where she was immediately operated upon. That saved her from becoming a full paraplegic. She still faces numbness in her right side and walks with a limp. But Natasha being Natasha – I love her humour, grit, determination and stoicness in all of life’s stituations – has mentally beaten her handicap and is working full time in Melbourne.

These may be coincidences and I don’t know why I am seeing a grain of truth in that old saying, After all, life cannot come to a halt with every death in a family. And it’s just impossible to mind every move we make. Maybe the things that happens in our lives are what we were destined for, I don't know. It's something I wouldn't wish even the worst of my enemy to go through. I pray to goodness that Shanta after all this will be able to move on in life.

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