This story is about a friend of mine.
Lets not name him.
He's in an Engineering college.
Not a dumb kid, but not really academically gifted.
His family isn't very well to do, but definitely not struggling.
He travels to college everyday on his own, on a two-wheeler, a scooty.
He told me that he does have the option of asking his mom to let him take the car
But he prefers the scooty for some reason and I somewhat understand how he feels.
Plus, he feels its safer for his mom to have a car available for her own use.
As a resident of Gurgaon, I'm not surprised.
Anyway, he was on his way to college, for an exam.
Physics was racing through his mind, when suddenly, in the corner of his rearview mirror, he spotted a flash of light.
Instinctively, his left hand shot up to adjust the mirror so the light wouldn’t leave him blinded.
It was at that very moment, the front tire made contact with a pile of loose gravel.
Everything after that happened in slow-motion.
The scooty skid along, before losing balance after a few metres.
He was still holding the handle by his right hand.
As he looked up, the last thing he saw was the pavement as it came hurtling towards his face at over 90kmph and he heard in his mind his friend's voice from just the day before
'Helmet? Seriously dude? Stop being a pussy.'
He regained consciousness right where he had crashed.
A few people were looking in his direction. Nobody moved an inch towards him.
A man, who he now realized had been there when he had lost control of the scooty, looked at him and said with a sneer 'Aur chalao ek haath se', before walking off.
He barely managed to extract himself from underneath the scooty.
Luckily for him, peer pressure was not something he succumbed to easily, he thought, as he took off his helmet.
He was badly bruised.
A little cut up too, at various places.
Walking was out of the question for now, he could only stumble to the side somehow.
There was a hospital just a few hundred meters away, he knew.
But he was also certain he needed help getting there.
He called up his mom.
She was there within ten minutes.
No words were exchanged as she raced him to the hospital.
Injuries heal, scars fade.
A month later, he was almost back to full health.
He was actually feeling quite a lot better.
And most of the wounds were now barely noticeable.
He was feeling exceptionally happy that day, for no reason at all.
Life was definitely looking up, he thought, as he flipped the page of the novel he was reading.
He got mugged that night.
Beaten up and left in a bloodied mess by the roadside, he barely managed to get to the hospital, driven there by his father on his scooty.
Injuries heal, scars fade.
While riding his scooty a few months later, he realizes there's a wobble in the front tyre.
He ignores it at first.
But it grows more pronounced.
So he takes it to the service centre to get it checked.
They service it and give it a clean chit.
While driving it back home, he drives over a small mound of gravel.
He's not sure what's wrong.
He takes it back.
They tell him there's nothing wrong with it.
He comes back home, tells his friend about the problem.
His friend checks it out, 'There's no wobble', he tells him.
Not entirely reassured, he continues with his day to day life all the same.
Then, one day, a classmate comes to college on a scooty.
He decides to compare the wobble with this scooty.
He barely makes it a quarter mile before it happens.
He brakes almost immediately.
This one is a brand new vehicle.
There’s no way this could be happening.
He rests the scooty on its stand,
And looks down.
At his trembling hands.