What does a young-adult who received way too much money than he can possibly spend do on weekend mornings? He goes out to have coffee and something with it like a cliched millennial. Roughly a year ago, I was going through a misguided phase. So, in my misguided weekend morning, I decided to go to the mall. Just for coffee. They served shit around here until Hemels opened up so there weren’t any good options.
I remember that day distinctly because of something I saw and did that day. What I saw was… impressionable to say the least and what I did was something more inhuman than anything I had ever done. It was passive but it was bad. I was in an auto-rickshaw. Uber hadn’t penetrated the market yet so I was in a Jugnoo auto. I haven’t used the app for months now. Anyway so, Jugnoo was the first to connect with PayTM and it was convenient so I had hooked it up.
I reached Great India Place, Noida at roughly 11:00AM. There were puddles of water all around. It had rained the previous night. As soon as I reached the gate, a guard came running toward the auto-rickshaw. He stepped into a big-puddle right at the entrance of Gate 6. I judged him for that. Not realizing it was an emergency or why else would a man voluntarily step in a puddle to soil his trousers up to the knee.
“Bhaiya, emergency hai, auto ko andar laiye jaldi”, he said. I didn’t know what to do. (Brother, it’s an emergency, bring the auto inside quickly.)
Confused with the sudden commotion I said, “Arey bhaiya, trip end to hone do yaar.” (Man, could you let my trip end first?)
He looked at me in a weird way. Then told me, “Bhai accident hua hai andar, aap utar jaiye, trip end ho jaegi.” (Brother, an accident has happened inside, could you please get down, the trip can be ended later on.)
The keyword was enough so I got out and still a bit fazed at what had just happened I went in through the gate. There was a crowd of about 6-7 people. Discussing. Then, I heard a cry. It was a constant wail of pain and agony. I pushed through the crowd and saw a man lying in a puddle of blood and dirt. His clothes torn and bloodied. His legs distorted and twisted. One arm completely bent and broken. His face, swollen. I could barely see his eyes. Blood everywhere. On him. Below him. This was the worst shape I had ever seen a human being in.
I looked up to see one of the cleaning trolleys hanging from just one pulley, one harness had broken off. The man, who I now knew was a cleaner at the mall had fallen from the trolley. He had fallen four stories down. Directly. He was in pain. Visible, heart-breaking pain. The constant wail echoing the otherwise silent morning.
I went inside. I was pushed inside by the mall authorities. They were trying to avoid the crowd and commotion. I didn’t mind. As I walked on the escalator, trying to digest what I had just seen, I realized that the driver had not ended my trip yet or he had and it reflected otherwise on my end of the app.
Despite having more than enough money for a 19-year-old, I panicked at the thought of someone using my ride and my PayTM wallet to go somewhere else. Even if it was a totally broken man, crying in pain, being transported to the nearest hospital. The thought of that money being used for the only right thing at the moment did not occur to me at all. Instead, I called the driver thrice in those ten-something minutes. The driver called me back and told me that he just ended the trip. He apologized. He shouldn’t have though.
I spent the next 50 minutes sipping coffee and eating a doughnut that costed me about forty times of what that extra one kilometer to the hospital which potentially saved the man had.I thought a lot about that incident. For months. I thought about how I had become a worse version of myself. I looked at myself in the mirror so many times.
Whatever I did that day, I did in confusion. However, confusion or no confusion, it was an extremely despicable thing to do.
I spent the next few months changing myself in whatever ways I could, trying to forget how I had changed for worse. I blamed the city a lot. “This city, it changes you, de-sensitizes you”, I’d tell people. That day still rolling through my head.
Couple of months after that, I started embracing people, trying my best to see the good in everyone. I even started a series of blog posts about how everyone is inherently good. I have to do another post in it. It’s been sitting in my drafts for a while now. Incomplete.
However, it is only today that I am able to openly write about this incident. It almost took me a year to forgive myself for what I did that day. I know I am back to who I was when I came here. Even better, maybe. I resolved to help others as much as I can. In hindsight, I can only say that it wasn’t the city. It wasn’t the confusion. It was nothing but a 19-year old way in over his head.
At this point, I don’t have a conclusion for this one. No witty pun. No sentence that ends it perfectly. It was quite possibly the worst thing I’ve done yet and there’s no other way I can put it.