Skip to main content

Kindness of strangers: If you have a heart, you can help anybody

It was well past midnight when I got a phonecall from an acquaintance, a well heeled lady: "I saw your father lying severely injured on the highway," she said excitedly, "We were driving by. It's a hit and run!" She explained that her son who was driving their car, had just been commissioned in the army. They decided to leave, since they didn't want him dragged into any medico legal case. Besides her anguish and information on the accident spot, she had nothing more to offer me by way of help. I put the phone down. I couldn't afford to lose my cool as time was ticking away. I had never handled such a crisis. The only other person at home was my mother, but I said a little prayer and drove off alone.

Kindness of strangers: If you have a heart, you can help anybody

On reaching the spot, all I found was Papa's dented scooter and a short tail of blood. Hoping some Good Samaritan must have rushed him to the nearest government medical college hospital, I reached there. I asked at the reception, checked admission records and went frantically from bed to bed but Papa wasn't there. I then stood by the Emergency entrance not knowing what to do. I could here the wailing of people who had lost their dear ones. I too expected the worst.

Just then a very exhausted man arrived, a construction labourer perhaps, pushing a handcart with Papa, unconscious and bleeding, bundled on it! The man was out of breath, his body drenched in sweat. As he beckoned paramedics, I noticed Papa's fractured ribs. His heart was pounding away. I signed the necessary consent papers for emergency surgery, and called up close relatives to donate blood. After the operation and several hours in the ICU, the surgeon spoke: "He's responding, but remains critical."

A retired Army officer, Papa recovered and resumed riding his scooter not long after the incident and, today at age 76, the only remnant of his trauma is a small depression on the left side of his chest. He now drives a car and loves to indulge his four grandchildren.

Looking back, amid all the drama and anguish, I missed thanking or finding out about the man who'd picked up my father and pushed his handcart for nearly four kilometers that night and helped save a life. After delivering Papa at the hospital, all he must have done was leave quietly. In doing so the poor man would have transcended all his daily worries, the summer's heat, exhaustion, fear of the law and the indifference of so many others who drove past, including a recently commissioned Army officer.

People like the man with the cart are true soldiers. He had little but could give so much. - Dr Anita Sharma, Jammu