Life was beautiful until I witnessed an accident.
It was Friday noon and I downed the shutters of my small textile shop for lunch. I got into my bicycle and pedaled it towards my home located in a small village, three kilometers away from this sparsely populated city extension. The sun was very hot and the street wore a deserted look.
Agriculture was my family business. But as my village was near to a very large city in southern India, the real estate people were fast invading and soon it would be divided into plots and sold to city people who would build houses getting loans from banks and Government. Agriculture became very tough since there was acute water scarcity. Ponds and wells were dried, as there was no rainfall. So I switched to textile business to survive.
I cut into the muddy road that led to the village and when I was half way through it, a Honda motorbike whizzed past me leaving a trail of red sand behind it. “Bastard.” I muttered aloud. “Only fools would ride in a such a speed in a village road.”
As if to comply with the Newton’s third law, I saw a black color Ford Ikon car coming in the opposite direction at high speed and creating waves of red sands around it.
Then it happened.
The motorbike hit the car and the impact catapulted the biker upwards in the air. He traversed downwards after a second and fell on a roadside bush. I pedaled faster and reached the spot. I jumped down from the bicycle and letting it fall, I ran towards the bush. The driver of the car, spectacled, middle aged and clad in safari suit was already standing there. The guy in the bush, slim and in his late twenties was writhing in pain. We tried to get him up.
But he couldn’t put his feet on the ground and cried aloud. “I think I’ve broken my leg.” He started to weep. “Don’t worry. Soon you’ll recover.” I consoled him and we carried him to the car. We made him lie in the back seat and I occupied the front and the gentleman started the car.
He drove the car to the main street and stopped before a clinic. I ran inside and informed the reception and few minutes later attendees with a stretcher emerged and carried the patient inside.
When the doctor knew it was an accident, he called the police. The police officer came after twenty minutes and the gentleman who drove the car detailed him the accident and the officer noted it all. They made me to sign in the statement and after that the gentleman said, “ Okay sir. Thanks for your help. I’ll take care of this guy. You carry on with your work.” I was relieved and I got out of the hospital. I walked back to the spot, got into my bicycle and reached my home.
Poison (My wife, she got that name because of her acidic tongue.) was engrossed on a movie in the television and didn’t even notice my late arrival. I recited my adventure while she served lunch. She listened half-heartedly and then said that the bathroom pipe was leaking and the upstairs room needed renovation indirectly hinting “ You never think about your home but like to help guys hit by car.”
I didn’t want to start a war and I went to my room to take a nap. Women! They always complain.
I almost forgot about the accident and I was busy selling garments as festival season was fast approaching.
Next week, as I pedaled my bicycle on the muddy road, I saw this Ford car coming in the opposite direction. I didn’t think it odd at the time. There were so many black Ford cars. Then I heard the sound of a motorbike…
What the fuck!
And seconds after the Honda motorbike raced past me.
It hit the car like it did last week and he was thrown in the air and fell on the roadside bush.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. No. It couldn’t be. Something was wrong somewhere.
I pedaled the cycle faster and there the driver of the car was standing near the bush. He was exactly the same guy I saw last week. I got down from the bicycle and ran to the bush. The cycle, not put on its stand, fell behind me. I looked into the bush. Yes. The victim was also the same person. I turned to the gentleman.
“Sir. I think I saw you in the same situation last week.”
He looked confused.
“I don’t understand. We never met before.”
“An accident exactly like this happened last week. This same motorbike hit your car last week and we admitted a guy exactly like this one in the hospital. Have you forgotten?”
“Sorry. I think you’re in a great confusion. Let’s help this guy. He needs immediate medical attention.”
We helped him to get up. But he couldn’t put his feet on the ground and cried as exactly as last week. “I think I’ve broken my leg.” Automatically words came out of my lips.
“Don’t worry. You‘ll soon recover.”
We carried him to the car, we made him lie in the back seat, we stopped before the clinic, I rushed inside, attendees came with the stretcher and when the doctor phoned the police, I intervened. “Doctor. Don’t you remember treating a guy exactly like this one last week?
I think things are repeating.” The doctor looked at me quizzically as if I was a specimen.
The gentleman said. “He’s confused. Don’t take him seriously.”
When the police arrived, I said I witnessed the accident for the second time. The officer gave a rude look and the gentleman took me aside from the officer’s gaze and thanked me for my help.
I reached home in utter confusion and told everything to Poison.
“I always warned you to wear a cap when coming home for lunch. You never listen to me.”
“What has a cap to do with this?”
“It saves your head from the hot sun. It’s the heat that made you to hallucinate.”
“No. It’s not hallucination.”
“Then it meant you use drugs.”
“My father always imagine things when he consumes alcohol.”
“Don’t compare me with your father. He’s such a fool.”
“Don’t say anything about my family. You’re a fool. Your father is a..”
I went to my room and shut the door. ‘I’m not in the mood for a fight.’ I became restless. I knew it was serious. I planned to consult a doctor. I phoned a doctor in the city and got the appointment.
I didn’t open the shop in the evening and went to meet the doctor. Poison was still in the angry mood and I didn’t tell her that I was going to meet the doctor. I bicycled through the muddy road to go to the main street to catch the bus to the city. The bike was not there at the accident spot. The police would have removed it.
The doctor asked me a string of questions about my food habits, previous health problems, bowel movement, sleep and dreams and finally said I had to take a scan of my brain. Scan? “There may be blocks in your nerves and it may make you imagine things.” He said.
I didn’t believe it and went to meet a Psychiatrist in the same hospital.
He asked me “How often you have sex with your wife?”
“I don’t want to answer this question.”
“Don’t mistake me young man. Sex. Every thing originates from sex. If you have good sex, nothing matters, life goes smooth. Sexual frustration is the basis for every problem. It may make you imagine things.”
“My sex life is good.”
I got out of the room angrily. No. It was not sexual frustration.
I reached home. A large crowd was waiting for me there, my father, mother, sisters, brothers, cousins, in-laws and friends. They all looked at me with sorrowful eyes as though I was having some incurable disease. My mother started crying. So Poison has spread the news. I looked at them and said curtly. “I consulted the doctor and he said I was okay and everything was normal. What I need is, a good sleep and little rest.”
Next day I didn’t open the shop and went to meet a Private Investigator in the city. I detailed him my problem and he noted down the car number, bike number, hospital name and everything I told. I felt confident and returned to my village. I opened the shop in the evening. Sunday was a Holiday. I spent the whole day watching Television. Poison was busy preparing non-veg foods for the crowd in the household. They doubted my words and decided to stay in my house and watch my behavior. Poison always loved to have lot of crowds in the house. Monday morning the crowd cleared and they all believed I was normal. I decided to open the shop late and went to meet the Private Investigator. He threw a bombshell and said that the accident occurred only once. He spoke to everyone involved in the accident and they were all speaking truth. He continued that I was having some extra power like ESP. I was confused. Could this be true? He said that it would happen to one in a million.
I decided to concentrate on my routine work. ‘If I have ESP power, it’s good. I’ll become famous and make more money.’ But something in my mind is still unsettling. I felt a nag, a disturbance, a bug, and incompleteness. One of my friends came with a parallel universe theory. No. I didn’t buy it.
Ten days afterwards, I read a news item in the paper and it got the hell out of me.
The motorcyclist who hit the car was dead. He died of grievous head injuries. Further it said he was a motorbike racer and won many medals in bike racing.
So he was dead.
I became restless. It was like a migraine. It slowly arose, spread and completely filled my mind. “Something is wrong, something is wrong, go out and find it.” I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I closed the shop and returned home. I told Poison that I was having headache and swallowed sleeping bills and went to bed.
I woke up in the evening and saw Poison trying out new dresses. She said she was going to attend a discourse by a saint in the temple. She invited me to join. I planned to go with her. May be it would give a relief from my tension.
The temple was crowded and saint was looking very pleasant and genial. He had some kind of charm in him and I instantly liked him. His eyes were sparkling and he started his discourse on ancient Gods and Goddess. I was hypnotized by his voice and he finished a story with a line “Every tough problem has a simple solution.”
I didn’t know what made me to stand up and tell, “No. Sir. There are many unsolvable problems.”
Poison tugged my shirt and said, “Don’t argue with saints.”
The whole crowd looked at my direction.
“Do you have any unsolvable problems?” he asked.
I told my story in detail.
“You’re telling the truth?”
“Then it meant they’re lying.”
I sat down and it set me thinking. “They’re lying. Why?”
When we returned home, we got a visitor. Poison’s brother was waiting for us there. He got the key from our neighbor, opened the house, prepared and ate dinner and resting in the guest room. He was working in Microsoft’s branch in India as a system analyst. Poison had invited him to select a bride from a list she got from a marriage bureau.
Something flashed in my mind when I saw him.
I noted the receptionist entering the accident details in the computer. If the accident occurred two times, she would have entered it two times and deleted one entry.
I asked my brother in law.
“Can you recover a deleted entry from a computer?”
“Yeah. There is a software for it.”
Before I could recite my problem, he stopped me.
“Sister had told me everything.”
Then I detailed my plan.
He was shrewd and carried out the plan next day. He went to the hospital, met the computer in charge, said that he got a recent version of virus protection software and wanted to test it in their computers. When he was granted permission, he sat before the computers and recovered all the deleted files and copied it into a CD.
He returned home, inserted the CD and showed all the files in his laptop.
Yes. It was there. The data entry of the first accident deleted from the data base.
Then they had also deleted a letter they wrote to the insurance company.
Next day I stopped my bicycle as I saw the Ford Ikon parked few yards away from the accident spot. The middle- aged guy got down from the car and walked towards me. He was carrying a small brief case.
“Hey. I’m Vasavan.”
He shook hands with me and gave me the brief case.
“It contains one lakh rupees.”
“Okay. As promised you should give me another five after you received the full amount.”
“Yeah. You are the key witness and everything depends on what you tell before the Judge. I made a mistake. If I convinced you at the first time, I wouldn’t have to give that private investigator a share.”
“He lied that I got a ESP power.” I laughed and continued, “Now, I became the partner in the crime. I need more details.”
“It’s a very big operation. I started my life as a motor mechanic and when my wife died in a road accident, a lawyer got me a huge amount as compensation by forging documents. I learned how to cheat insurance companies from that accident. Then I start to fake road accidents and claim huge amount from insurance companies. I bribe doctors and police officers to issue fake certificates. I use different cars, different cities and different victims. I earned lot of money and I fell in love with this beautiful woman, wife of a bike racer. He loved her deeply and divorce was tough. We planned to kill him. We said he should act as a victim in the fake accident and he would get money for that. We included him in the set up, as he was a bike racer, he jumped before the bike hit the car and fell exactly in the bush without hurting himself. We killed the racer in the hospital and bribed the doctors to certify that he died of head injuries caused by road accident. The police officer endorsed it and we asked a claim of 40 lakh rupees(4 million).”
“But not all the police officers are dishonest,” said a police officer emerging from the bush. A magistrate and an Insurance Company official with a video camera accompanied him.
Vasavan tried to run away towards the car but the police officer grabbed him, pinned his arms and handcuffed him.
I called insurance companies, told the car number and asked them whether they had insured that vehicle. The fourth company said yes and I told them that I had witnessed the accident twice.
They checked the records and found that they had insured the vehicle two days previous to the first accident but it was cancelled as the bank dishonored the cheque they presented to the Insurance Company. They didn’t have sufficient money in the bank.
They faked the accident but it had gone waste as the insurance was cancelled. Now they had to fake another accident but I barged in unexpectedly and they had to behave as if it was happening for the first time.
I explained the set up to the insurance company and they asked my cooperation to catch the culprits.
Poison was very happy when she saw my photograph and my story in the front page of newspapers next day.