A ride in an autorickshaw

The winds slap at my face as
This infernal vehicle which makes me wish I had my prayer beads to clutch at
And mouth words I have not mouthed since childhood
Takes me through a ride that stops my heart. Again. And again.

I think back to the bundle of my flesh and blood
Waiting for me to return and
Run to me, for me to inhale intoxicate myself with the smell of
Small boy sweat and relief, and grubby fingers clutching me

Bhaiya dheere chalao, koi jaldi nahin hai
I tell the man, while I count the minutes to reaching home.
Knowing that the minutes will wait
The seconds will morph into a seamless whole
The moment will get frozen into a split when
I see myself flying through the air
And the asphalt rushing towards me, crisp and crackling

With the moltenness of a day’s sun soaked into it,
And the crunch of metal piercing
My ears. The thud of the back landing on unyielding ground.
The screech of brakes as the oncoming traffic stops.
I hear from another place
A jagged cry from my lips
as the hand is pinned beneath the weight of
Metal. The sensation of time slowing down as faces
Look down at me with concern and hands lift the weight
Off my hand. Swollen. Bones broken.

Bhaiya dheere chalaana
I have my hand. Mummified. In white crepe.
I can go home and hold my boy.
Tight. And smell his little boy sweat and see his wondering eyes
Light up as I enter, confident that I would come home to him

(This was written some days after a particularly gruesome accident on the Western Express Highway in Mumbai, where my autorickshaw slammed into a suddenly braking car up front, turned turtle and had two of my fingers of my right hand pinned under it. Particularly poignant for me, two thoughts at that second, that I would never see my child again and that I wouldn’t be able to type again.)

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About Kiran Manral

Author of The Face At The Window, ( 2016), Karmic Kids, All Aboard (2015) , Once Upon A Crush (2014) and The Reluctant Detective (2011).
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8 Responses to A ride in an autorickshaw

  1. Khan Mukhtar says:

    Life is unpredictable in all its shapes so when we hit roads we always find the dance of death in its tracks the fortunates land at home safely but some times we run out of luck and get tangelled. Anyway your experience on Mumbai highway in a rick is always risky .I myself had faced such incidents when I was staying at Andheri for a pretty long time n had to hire rick from station to Shari-e- Punjab colony. God bless u good health.

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Like

  2. kalpana says:

    Hi nice write up, motherhood is priceless for everything else there is master card.

    LOL. Well said.

    Like

  3. dipali says:

    Phew. Very graphic, and immensely moving.

    🙂

    Like

  4. nmaha says:

    I could picture the scene. Yes, everything takes second place to motherhood.

    It does!

    Like

  5. had a multi car crash in the Western Express highway last year and while there was no little boy waiting for me…it does make one wonder what if – i didnt have the seat belt on, what if i was going faster.

    and you sit up and thank your “lucky” stars!

    Totally do! Thank God nothing too serious happened with you. This is scary.

    Like

  6. Orange Jammies says:

    Holy crap, K! Are you okay now? Rickshaws, they’re nasty little things, best avoided, certainly on highways!

    Unfortunately, they’re the easiest way to get around. Happened and written a long time back Jammie, just gathered courage to start posting these up now.

    Like

  7. dk says:

    Phew! glad you’re ok kiran..

    All well, happened a long time back.

    Like

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