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Vikram Dogra | November 11, 2003 16:45 IST

It was a summer day in New Delhi. I was on my way for a routine check-up at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, before leaving for the US for further studies. The drive -- I was in my father's government car -- was nice since Delhi looks glorious in summer.

Since I had not grown up there, I was firing all kinds of questions at my father's subordinate, who was accompanying me. The discussion shifted to Delhi's poor medical and emergency facilities; the gentleman, who was knowledgeable in these matters, was giving me his valuable inputs.

As we neared the hospital, the traffic slowed down. My father's driver, as is typical of most Delhi-ites, abused the traffic policemen and contributed to the chaos by honking incessantly.

We inched ahead in the heat. After a while, we realised an accident had caused the traffic jam. An autorickshaw was lying on its side. Next to it was a man, lying in a pool of blood. He was probably dead. Near him was a child, unconscious, covered in blood. A woman, who was bleeding profusely, was holding the child and crying for help.

No one stopped. Each vehicle that passed her had at least one human being shaking his or head in disbelief or sympathy at the accident. Each one was thanking God that they were safe in their vehicles and not bleeding on the road.

We neared the hapless family. I looked out of the window at the bloodstained drama, as many others must have done before me.

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The woman was wailing. Her face was mixture of shock, disbelief and helplessness as each vehicle passed her by. Our eyes locked. The woman was looking straight into my eyes and saying something. In the chaos, I could not hear her words.

Each second seemed like eternity.

I asked my father's well-connected subordinate to do something; after all, we were also on our way to the hospital.

He replied in a casual, off-hand tone, "Forget it. Why do you want to get involved?"

In a few minutes, we had passed the accident site.

Soon, I left for the US.

When I celebrated my last birthday, I invited 50 friends to drink and party over the weekend. All of us will soon be graduating from an esteemed American university and taking up jobs worth envying. There are celebrations everywhere as we all look forward to a new, elitist life.

I don't know what happened to that lady. I don't know if her family survived. I don't know everyone was like us that day, or if somebody helped her.

This diary is for that lady.

Please forgive me for not helping you that day.

On the day I graduate and receive my degree, I will think about you. And of your child. And about the fact that, right now, an accident victim is lying on one of India's roads, begging for help. Begging for a chance at survival. But people will pass them by, just as I passed you that day.

Please forgive them. And please forgive me. I was too cowardly to help you that day. The next time I can help someone, I won't look the other way. That will be my repentance.

Illustration: Lynette Menezes

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Number of User Comments: 40

Sub: Be Genuine

I feel a person who written this want's to become a hero by accepting this , this is very true in India, what does it ...

Posted by alok Jha

Sub: U dont deserve one !!

well, Seems like you r a good narrator, but a big HYPOCRITE !!! When you explained how the ghastly incident moved u, u would have ...

Posted by Anush

Sub: Sorry Vikram, not just you....we all should be sorry...

Our lives in India have lost the very value they should be cherishing.... Are we the descendents of Maharishi Bharata, Yuddhishtra, Satya Harishchandra and people ...

Posted by Arunkumar J

Sub: Good article

a nice one by vikram. Thought provoking. i am sure most of us have come across such an experience. what is your email id vikram ...

Posted by Prashant Ulavapalli

Sub: why are you writing this?

u didnt do anything that day, so why are u writing this? to show how callous and insensitive you are? i dont think this apology ...

Posted by XYZ


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