Home > News > Diary
Ketan Joshi |
December 20, 2003 18:53 IST
I was relaxing at home, deeply involved in a book, when my mobile phone rang. On the phone's screen was an unfamiliar number with a 0712 prefix, which meant the call was from Nagpur.
"Hello?" I picked up the phone.
"Haan, Ketan, it's me." It was my dad calling. He had a Reliance mobile phone and, in those days, they used to allot a temporary number when their customers travelled outside the city. That was why the number displayed on my phone was unfamiliar.
We talked for some time and then disconnected.
After a couple of hours or so, the phone rang again. The same number was displayed on the screen of my mobile phone. Instead of my dad, however, it was a woman speaking on the other side.
"Hello," she said hesitantly, "hello... Who's speaking?"
I felt a flash of irritation -- when a call has been placed, it is assumed that the caller should know whom he has called… so what on earth was this woman up to?
"Yeah," I answered a bit rudely. "This is Ketan from Bombay. But who are you and how do you have this phone?"
"I... um... I am calling from Nagpur," she replied. Her voice was still laced with hesitation. "Er... do you know whose phone this is? There's an old man who is unconscious in the street here... Do you know him?"
|More exciting diaries!|
"WHAT?" I sprang to my feet. My heart was in my mouth and I was shaking. "Old man... unconscious... Who... what... where are you?" I asked her.
"I am calling from Nagpur... Dharampeth...," she replied patiently. "An old gentleman has fallen down on the street here. I found this mobile phone in his pocket. I pressed the redial button, hoping I could find who he is and where he lives."
I told her where to find my mom and our relatives. After we hung up, I frantically called up our relatives in Nagpur to ensure my father got the appropriate treatment.
Much later, I found out what had happened. My dad, who had stepped out for a stroll, had suffered a mini-stroke and collapsed in the street. The stroke had caused him to vomit profusely, so passers-by thought he was a drunkard sleeping off his booze. Until the woman who called me took a closer look and decided he did not look like a drunkard.
My mom and our relatives who lived just 50 feet away had no clue as to what had happened. Nine hundred kilometres away in Mumbai, a phone call from a kind and thoughtful stranger ensured I was the first to know.
Thanks to that stranger, tragedy sidestepped our family that day. My father received prompt medical attention and is fine now.
Yet, I can't help wondering:
- What if my father hadn't taken his mobile phone with him on his evening stroll?
- What if the last person he called had been someone other me?
- What if the person who found the phone did not know how to use it? What if there was no one around who could have helped her?
- What if he had not called me earlier? Then I would not have known his temporary number and, in those days when incoming calls also cost money, it was quite possible that I would not taken the call.
The bill for my dad's mobile phone continues to be as erratic as ever and he was grumbling about it just the other day. But I smiled and paid up without a murmur.
Illustration: Lynette Menezes