It was past midnight when a call woke us up. Our nephew met with an accident and was admitted at the GMCH-32. The family resides at the suburbs of Chandigarh, and would take a while before they fetched up, thus me and my wife rushed to the hospital. When we reached, Paawan was shifted from the casualty to the eye ward.
The staff guided us to the bed where he lay battered, bruised with blood smeared on his clothes. A doctor, in his late twenties, was attending him. Also present in the room were three young boys, who, we assumed, were Paawan’s friends. The doctor, sensing that the family has descended, smiled — a reassurance that all was well. Once he was done, the friendly doc beckoned us to the corridor. “The left eye ball had popped out of the casing, which I have reset and bandaged. A surgery will be required in the morning. Feel free to call me anytime,” he said.
We were back at the side of our nephew, who was surrounded by three youngsters. As it unfolded, Paawan, who was driving a Maruti Omni van, collided with a stationary truck parked awkwardly on the Ambala highway.
He was pulled out of the battered car by these three youths, who were on their way for a dinner. They even oversaw the emergency treatment. We thanked them and requested to get on with their routine. One fellow got emotional, “Uncle, what’s need to thank! We could have been in his condition.”
Their efforts to palliate the agony of Paawan through light talk made us wonder “were they just strangers an hour back, or close friends?”
By now, the family arrived. In his senses now, the boy was worried about his wallet and mobile phone. It was 3am when I reached the site. The van was unrecognisable — the front wind screen and dash board in smithereens and the side-door panels strewn.
A cop, quite contrary to a saturnine impression we have of police, approached us saying he assisted the evacuation with other three car-borne youths, and was now guarding the damaged vehicle.
We located the wallet and the mobile, with contents intact. Official formalities were completed. The young cop assured to keep guard till the vehicle was towed away. The recovery van driver had, meanwhile, responded with an urgency, and was there after a while. With the cop’s help, the vehicle was towed away. I thanked him, to which he replied, “Uncleji, eh saadi duty hai”. Who said cops were intransigent! Thereafter, the vehicle was safely deposited with the workshop.
With still some minutes of darkness left before dawn and everything accomplished like military precision, I silently pledged encomium for my friends, hospital staff, the doc, the cop, the recovery driver and the garage owner who could make everything go tickety-boo. They proved the saying, “Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life and said ‘I’m here for you’”. Happy friendship day to everyone! Joie de vivre.
(The writer is a retired army officer based out of Chandigarh)