20th September 1997-it was my best friend Purnendu’s 28th birthday.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Tryst with Fate
Submitted as a 400 word entry @ www.figment.com
When we joined college, we connected instinctively and the bond lasted through thick and thin. It got rejuvenated when I got an opportunity to work at Jamshedpur- a well-manicured steel township in Bihar. Purnendu was already working there and incidentally so was my fiancé. My emotions ran manifold the day I saw them waiting at the railway station to receive me. We thanked fate for bringing us together after a lengthy sojourn, when we had to settle at different corners of India.
We used to meet frequently - Purnendu driving his scooter for quite a distance ignoring adverse weather conditions --- rain or storm. The visits to the beautiful Jubilee park, the pristine Dimna lake, picturesque Ghatshila with all its greenery, long drives through by lanes of Sonari or Adarsh Nagar, eating at Anand @ Bistupur – life presented itself with a bouquet of happiness.
He was not careful towards life and like others in India, was not particular about wearing helmet while driving. Umpteen cautions from both of us could not change much.
That day, he invited both of us to have dinner at an eatery in downtown area and we were on time, carrying a pricey helmet, that he had once wished for, as birthday gift. He seemed to like the style a lot and we could extract the promise that from then on he would never ride his 2 wheeler without it. We finished dinner and parted ways; the clock on the clock tower chimed 1 AM when I eventually surrendered to sleep. Having gifted the helmet to my friend which would protect him from mortal danger, I slept contended.
Next morning, I woke up to the rudest shock of my life. Purnendu’s father was on the other side of the phone with terrible news and I could hardly believe my ears. Thinking all is not lost yet, I set out towards the hospital at double speed.
It so happened that a bus, driven by the helper in place of usual driver rammed into his bike at a traffic signal causing him to fall. The casual driver panicked and instead of slamming the brakes, pressed the accelerator crushing Purnendu’s head. Ironically, the new helmet was lying strapped to his rear seat.
Purnendu lived life with fate on his sleeves and it was not on his side this time.