It was a normal day; at least I had thought so. I was returning home in an express bus from my college which was situated 45 kilometres outside my city. I hadn’t upgraded my internet pack and as a result, I was not updated by the events of the day.
It was raining heavily. The bus was stuck in a traffic jam. The vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace. I couldn’t look at the road ahead as the bus was at the extreme end of the traffic jam. I saw that the other side was relatively clearer, devoid of vehicles and deep mud puddles. I got down from the bus and thought of crossing the road to hire an auto towards home. Just then, many of the vehicles took a turn and thronged the side I was in. I was walking towards the auto stand, carefully wading between the vehicles on my way. Suddenly all of the auto drivers retreated backwards ignoring the hands calling out to them. I was stranded in the rain.
I was walking, thinking of ways to get out of this situation, fear tightening its grip on me with each passing second. I picked my phone to call home, when a door of a white car opened and a lady signalled me to come in. Relieved, I went towards her and sat inside the car. She asked me where I lived. As she was concentrating on the road, I couldn’t see her face properly. I just knew that she had a fair complexion and her hair was tied into a knot, with white flowers adorning it.
The road ahead of us was clogged with water. The water level had risen and some of the people had abandoned their two-wheelers. The gravity of the situation sunk in and the realisation dawned on me that my city was flooded. I felt my pulse rising and beads of sweat trickling down my face. She too was scared of the adverse situation in front of us and was taking instructions from a friend over phone, on how to proceed further. After stopping the car for a while, she deftly drove through terse waters and swerved towards the right where it was less prone by water. She showed tremendous presence of mind. I spoke to my parents and informed them about my condition.
As the situation was averted, she turned to me and asked my name. She introduced herself as Deepali Mallya. Then, she asked me what I was doing there. I told her I was coming back from my college where I study Engineering. She told she was pursuing her Ph. D. in English Literature. That broke the ice between us and she was no longer a stranger to me. I expressed my interest to pursue literature and we talked about our tastes. The conversation drifted from science fiction novels which I didn’t like at all, to her aspiration to pursue teaching. She narrated bits of her professional life.
I guided her to my house and she dropped me on the street where I lived. I bade her good bye and asked for her number. I made a mental note to call her to enquire about her whereabouts.
I reached home with a sense of safety. A kind hearted soul had marked me safe. My bag felt heavier with a bounty of life lessons. She taught me that in terse times, extend a helping hand to anyone – known or unknown. The world is dark and unforgiving. But, there are small spokes of light shining bright. Indeed, kindness can come from the unlikeliest of places.
I have nothing to offer her except a few words of gratitude.