In hindsight every life threatening situation has something funny about it or it just leaves you with a smirk on your face because you survived it and it gives massage to your ego.
Well, I’d such an experience a few weeks back. People familiar with me maybe dying of boredom reading about or listening to my adventures on the battery operated wheelchair. So, this is basically for the uninitiated or the people who may have missed this story altogether.
It was a Sunday afternoon and on the whim I felt like catching up the latest release in the theatre nearby. Oddly, I was feeling super confident that today being a holiday I’ll reach the theatre without any hassle as the traffic on the road would be minimal and I’d cross the roads without any assistance.
My intuition was proven right as there wasn’t a soul on the road. So, I continued my jaunt till reaching the main junction - no traffic. Still, I looked left, then right, then left again (as they used to teach in school from a chapter about Road Safety) before crossing the road.
Having crossed the road, I was jubilant in my head and even imagined punching the air. The going was smooth till now. I was aware of the big auto rickshaw parked ahead and cautious that I should not bang it. Suddenly I heard a humming sound, it took me a few seconds to realise that it was actually a growl. My eyes started searching for the source of that, and there he was, under the auto, looking at me. My wheelchair automatically became dead slow, undecided whether to go ahead or to stop. In fact, there was a bunch of them taking their afternoon nap. Meanwhile, the growling had become barking and it was waking up others. The barking one had come out by now and taken his position on my left and others were following him and taking their positions as if they were going to have a pre-match huddle like cricketers around me.
I nearly started crying looking at the jaw of the leader of the pack barking ferociously, I’d see the sharpness of his teeth and wondered where he’d reach if he decided to pounce on me, shoulder, neck, face and even my head. Suddenly, the dialogue from Life of Pi “Animals don't think like we do! People who forget that get themselves killed. When you look into an animal's eyes, you are seeing your own emotions reflected back at you, and nothing else.” flashed through and I realised that crying won’t help, turned my chair to the right and ran for my life.
Yet I’d feel that a few of them were chasing me, barking at the top of their lungs and an old drunkard (who couldn’t even keep his Lungi in place) standing on the sidelines and telling me pedikalle mone, unnum chayilla (don’t be scared son, they won’t harm you).
Thankfully, a couple of bikes appeared (as if they were assigned to save my life) from nowhere honking and making noise, which made my chasers disperse in various directions and forget everything about me.
I stopped when I was safe distance away from the dogs. My thighs were shivering due to spasm and anxiety, which is risky as my balance on the chair is maintained by the stability of my legs on the footrest. If I lose that I may slip out of the seat very soon and then manoeuvring the chair would be impossible. So, my first thought was to take U turn and return home. But, facing those dogs again within minutes didn’t feel good and I’d already covered three-fourth of way to the theatre and it’d be such a waste of effort to return home without watching the movie.
I’d narrated this incident orally to my friend Velu, who was very encouraging in saying that my narration was so good that it kept haunting him for a couple of nights. So, I’ve burnt the proverbial midnight oil for a few nights to write it down for the wider world.