Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tykes and Bikes

Most people have had a tally of one "near-death experience" in their lifetime- if they are blessed by the divine and can differentiate between actual death and the experience of waiting in traffic during rush-hour on the roads of Chennai. I can say with a sense of pride that I have been personally privy to two NDEs- and on the same day; within a span of forty to fifty seconds at best.

It was a tranquil, moonlit night that drenched the streets of Vastrapur, Ahmedabad. Just the kind of night you expect your father to take his five year-old on a scooter ride to the local "paan shop". My father was quite conventional in that sense. We parked the scooter in front of the hooded stall that housed the owner, his betel leaves and the several condiments designed to make the best of mouths salivate in crimson ecstasy. As my father placed the order, I parked myself on the seat, legs barely reaching the basket compartment in the scooter's front and sat reflecting on whatever it is five year-olds seated on scooter seats do while waiting for paan, when I perceived a white fluffiness emerge from my left, flanked by a dog-walker in shorts. A mesh of conditioning and hereditary traits has made it hard for me to be sure if a morbid fear of dogs existed in me then or whether it was a product of the experience about to follow. To be honest, it was mostly an unverifiable blur, but here is a speculative version of it:-

The fluffy canine slobbered meekly on its leash for a couple of seconds by my side, and unable to handle that sort of pressure, I jumped off the scooter and took off. I don't suppose that for the first three to four seconds of my imperiled sprint, the dog caught on. But when I looked over my shoulder after about six seconds, the dog was hot on my trail. I gave a squeak of a rabbit in the wild whose mortality has been challenged and renewed the fuel in my legs. My tiny legs motored away as they had never motored in their short lives. Swirling clouds of dust and sand took birth as my blazing feet left the ground with each bound.

In a short time, either alerted to the hunt by the bloodthirsty howls of my pursuer, or disturbed by the rift in the space-time continuum caused by my supersonic speed, other dogs clambered onto the party wagon. Since I could count at the time, I noted fleetingly that I was now running from a total of five yowling, hooting dogs of different assortments.

I ran in all possible formations I could think of to bamboozle my quarry. I zagged and zigged, vice versaed, ran in concentric circles, ellipses, hexagons, and possibly even a rudimentary version of the "Chakravyuha". But seemingly they were abreast with the Mahabharata as they matched my every dodge to keep the minimum distance of two metres from my sweating posterior at all times. As the thread of breath dwindled in my chest, I started seeing spots and other kaleidoscopic projections. I saw the pearly mistiness of heaven, and the scorching rouges of hell- NDE#1.

Then, in a final burst of energy, I launched myself off the ground- possibly in the hope of catching an updraft of the wind and soaring above the canine mass surrounding me. Fear, as it turned out, does not lend you wings, and after a brief stint as an amateur airborne gymnast, I fell to the ground and skidded along the rough, sand road. As I commended my young body to God, I saw a blinding orb of white light rush towards me. As I experienced NDE#2, a realization dawned that the white light of God should not have alloyed wheels, or a chassis suspension, or a two stroke engine, or front disk brakes. I swallowed more sand than I could spit out as the bike skidded to a screeching halt not more than two centimetres from my tiny, airless, grounded chest.

My dual Near-death Experience was caused by two of man's supposed best friends- dogs and a motorbike.

1 comment:

Divya said...

Fantastic flow of language and use of adjectives (something that doesn't come easily to me!). Particularly liked these lines -
'I gave a squeak of a rabbit in the wild whose mortality has been challenged and renewed the fuel in my legs. Swirling clouds of dust and sand took birth as my blazing feet left the ground with each bound. ' Awesome stuff. Keep writing..