Photo : Deccan Chronicle
A friend called to inform me that one of our high school classmates had passed away in a road accident. My first thought was, was he driving a two wheeler? She went to explain with great sympathy that his motorbike collided with a water tanker and in spite of wearing a helmet he died instantly. He was 42 years old, survived by his wife and two children. As she was saying how tragic this was and how unlucky he was all I could think was how irresponsible he was.
The following month I was sitting across another friend of mine listening to another tragic road accident. As she was describing how devastated his family members were I couldn’t stop myself from asking out loud as to whether the person was driving a two wheeler. She said ‘yes’ and continued to narrate how in order to avoid a puddle of water he swerved and collided with an oncoming bus. Apparently his horoscope had predicted that water would be the cause of his death and he and his family had taken all precautions to keep him away from all water bodies like swimming pool, beach but puddle of water didn’t even cross their mind. She was amazed at the incomprehensible and unconquerable fate. While my mind shrieked “What?”, I ,in a very matter of fact tone, let her know that I had my own take on it. The current reality is that Indian roads are one of the most dangerous places to be in and being on a two wheeler is like signing your own death warrant.
Somehow many of us are blind to this reality. In the past few months four people whom I know have lost their lives driving a two wheeler on Indian roads. Only one person while discussing one of the above deaths was pissed off at the person for driving a two wheeler when he could have easily driven his car or taken public transport. Two of the above mentioned deaths could have been avoided by getting their job done online.
Everyone knows that today road accident is the leading cause of unnatural death. Or don’t they? Are there people like my mom whose perception of reality is screwed up? She gets carried away by sensational news about a plane crash or a sinking boat or natural disaster or terrorist bombing, sympathizes with the victims and sends a quick prayer up for being spared from such a fate without realizing that she literally hands over her life to fate each time she is on the road.
I get the impression that many are obstinate about driving two wheelers. If one asks why, affordability is the reason usually thrown at you. This applies to few. For many it is just a matter of PRIORITY! I guess I can conclude safely that for many in India staying alive or remaining functional is not their priority.