“Shasha…Shasha…where are you, how dare you soil my car with your muddy shoes. Come here this minute” Shekhar was screaming his lungs out.
“What’s the matter dear, why are you so upset?” Anamika came running out of the kitchen, hearing her husband scream.
“Your son has no sense of discipline, Anu. I have spent a fortune getting the new upholstery for my car and he has soiled it all with his muddy shoes.” he was still fuming.
“He had a football match yesterday..”
Shasha came out hearing his dad’s voice, “Dad…”
Shekhar slapped his son straight across his cheeks. Shasha stood there tears streaming down his face, his cheeks beginning to redden and swell.
“You dirty my car once again and I’ll break your leg, got it?”
Then he picked up his bag and rushed out of the house.
“Ma. I am getting late for school. Bye.”
“Beta have breakfast…”
But he was gone before she could finish her sentence.
‘What is with men and their love for their cars?’ she wondered.
Shekhar looked at the ground where he had just slapped Shasha. There was a shining silver cup and a certificate. He picked it up to see what it was.
“Shasha`s team won the football match yesterday. He was adjudged the best player with maximum goals. His teammates had soaked him in water before I went to pick him up. That’s why there’s mud in the car. I was meaning to wash and clean it off before you saw it.” Anamika explained.
Shekhar was ashamed of his behavior and made a mental note to take Shasha out for dinner that night, to celebrate his achievement and also to apologise for his sudden outburst.
He had an important client meet in a couple of hours time and didn’t want to be late. He called up his secretary, Poornima,
“ Poornima, have you reached office? I told you to report by this time.”
“Sir, I am on my way.”
“What?” he screamed, “on your way? Can you never be on time? Don’t forget appraisal time is just round the corner. You don’t want to forgo your raise this time too, do you? There’s so much to do before we meet Mr. Mehta. Mail me the soft copy of the project immediately. I will work on it till you reach office.”
Poornima stopped her car and used her laptop to mail the project to her boss. Life was never easy for her, as she painstakingly balanced her home and work. Her rebellious teenaged son and ever-demanding teenaged daughter on one side and her arrogant boss on the other had made her life miserable. Her husband had left her for another woman and she had been shattered ever since. She started her car, her mind abuzz with thoughts of her fight with her son in the morning and the threatening words of her boss. She was driving fast enough to reach before her boss did, when she spotted a little girl running across the road. She tried to apply the brakes, but stepped on the accelerator instead, swerving just in time to avoid hitting the child. But in the process, she rammed her car into a motorbike injuring a couple and setting off a chain of accidents.
“Saab stop the car, stop the car..”
Shekhar could see a few people hailing down his car. He stopped to inquire and saw a large crowd gathered around what appeared to be an accident.
“Saab, there’s been an accident, three people have to be taken to the hospital, they are bleeding profusely. Can you please help?”
‘Oh no, not now,’ he thought, ‘my new car upholstery, I don’t want blood in my car. Anyway I have my client meet; I cannot afford to be late. Who knows, may be even the police will make me run around for my statement. I am better off without these headaches.’
“ Not now, I am in a hurry, why don’t you call an ambulance” he nodded his head and drove away.
He reached office and was seething in anger when he learnt Poornima had still not reached. He tried calling her, but she was not answering his call.
‘Look at the nerve of that woman, she has the audacity to ignore my threats, I must teach her a lesson.’
After waiting for almost an hour, he hurriedly made a project report from the soft copy Poornima had sent. His anger knew no bounds when his secretary did not report to work at all, the entire day. He had just finished his meeting and come to the office when his office boy told him his wife had left a message asking him to call back.. He switched on his mobile and called his wife. Amid sobs, his wife asked him to come to Sanjeevani hospital immediately. He reached the hospital and was shocked to see his wife crying incessantly. His heart now beating faster, he went near her and saw a deathly look on his wife’s face.
“Shasha…my baby…he’s lost his leg… he was in a bad accident today morning. Some woman lost control of her car while trying to avoid a little girl on the road, and hit a couple on the motorbike, they in turn hit Shasha’s bicycle. He was lying bleeding on the road for almost an hour. Some heartless man refused to ferry them to the hospital. That woman sitting there is the one who caused the accident. Though she was hysterical after the accident, she was the one who brought the three of them to the hospital but by that time, Shasha had lost a lot of blood and doctors said we could have saved his leg if he was brought here a little earlier…my poor baby, he will never be able to play football again.