Circa 1993 . H.S.C exams. Biology, my favorite paper. Every answer on my fingertip; and from there fluidly onto the answer paper. The giddy bubbly feeling when everything is sailing smooth. Life is perfect!
My answers fill Main plus 3 extra sheets. I crosscheck my roll number and hand over the paper bang on time. I stroll out with a silly smug smile hovering over my lips. As I collect my bag, Disaster strikes! I have forgotten to mention 1 + 3 (answer sheets) on the main page! Even if one paper gets loose, there goes my Medical Admission seat down the drain. My legs turn to jelly. I run back to the classroom and seek out the Supervisor desperately.
Haggard face, plump body, knit eyebrows, Impatience Incarnate! She refuses to entertain me. I plead and cajole. She refuses outright. Ten minutes of pleading gets me no results. I come out trembling. This is why I don’t believe in God, I swear with clenched fists. I see the gloomy future clearly. Out of all the exam papers in this world, only mine will come undone. I am sure my dream of a medical seat is lost forever.
Mom is waiting outside. She takes one look at my face; says nothing. We sit silently side by side in the taxi. She drops me home, serves me lunch, tries to cheer me up. We hear a sudden burst of noise, “People burst crackers for no reason, even during exam times!” she shakes her head in reproval. She has to leave for her half-day school duty. I don’t speak a word to her, don’t wave back as she leaves for work. My sullen silence is my punishment to her; for her guiltless presence in the events of today. Innocent bystander.
Tomorrow’s exam paper. I cannot concentrate. All I can see is the Supervisor. Bxxxh! I swear, Frustrated bxxxh! I hope Life teaches her a bitter lesson, I ruminate silently. Fuming, burning, tormented. I focus all my negative energy on Her; the enemy who will deprive me of my dream. I absolve myself completely of my fault. It is safer to blame another.
Evening comes. Doorbell. Mom returns Home. She is sweating, her hair in disarray. “You don’t know? Switch on the TV.” she says briefly.
The date today is 12 March 1993….Venue: Mumbai.
I don’t know why this incident has erupted out of my memory today. All I know is, my Mom travelled from HajiAli to Worli to Dadar. Like everyday.
3 bomb blasts occurred on her way (Century Bazaar, Passport office, Plaza cinema). Death unleashed itself on her road 3 times today, dancing ahead of her by mere 10 minutes.
…10 minutes that I spent arguing and pleading with the Bxxxh…10 minutes that allowed Mom to survive.
…The day I believed was a nightmare for my future dreams. The day my Mom got a Life reprieve.
…The moment I thought God had played a dirty trick on me…The day that allowed Rhea to see and meet her GrandMa.
It may be just coincidence; maybe not.
Maybe I was just a tiny piece of God’s jigsaw puzzle. So few of us are lucky enough to see the Bigger Picture. I don’t know if I deserved the blessing of that day; the blessing that so many others were denied that day.
My amygdala pressed the ‘Save’ button on the incident and moved it to the ‘Archives’ section. For some reason, it ricocheted back from the archives today. Before I lose this moment of clarity and gratitude; before I get back to shrugging off all miracles in my life as my due; Thank you…and Sorry.
Even though I was an atheist,(click link for my journey from Atheism to Theism, and specifically Bhagwad Gita) I was still sent a messenger. I don’t remember her name , nor her face. The frustrated Bxxxh…my Savior . For the sake of your children and grandchildren, Ma’am, I pray that you reached home safely that day. I hope I was that vital jigsaw piece in your life that day.
And You? When was the last time you learnt that an adversity maybe a blessing in disguise? That Life maybe too abrupt to swear & blame? That Life may spring you a gift when you thought it was a curse?