A surprising lesson in the power of will

Published on: 21st July 2014
It was a dark night and raining quite heavily. We had most of our life's belongings wrapped in water proof plastic and tied to either side of our motorcycle as we climbed up the steep Western Ghats. We were on our way from Bangalore, having taken a break from our professional lives, and on our way to Goa. The plan was to start from scratch there and make a movie! Lofty ambitions indeed and we were on our way having been on the road for more than 16 hours and having dealt with a flat tyre to get to Goa and start the new chapter ahead of us.

The roads were bad, narrow and slippery, and the traffic, mostly trucks and buses, incessant. Hairpin bend after hairpin bend, later, we reached a curve which was impossibly dark. Screams - nightmarish and bloodcurdling in the dark - it felt like somebody was torn in two and screaming for help. We stopped, nobody else did. All of a sudden something in the dark rushed at us - a man? blood dripping. We instinctively started moving. What was this? And then somehow something stopped us - more blood curling screams. We looked at each other. No words were spoken but we knew we needed to do something and we turned back.

The blood soaked man was babbling at us - incoherent, in a language not from there, we understood that he was trying to ask for help. He seemed to be the cleaner of a truck. He and the owner of a fleet of trucks were driving and the drunk driver plowed the truck into the ravine. He did not want us to help him rather he wanted us to rescue his fallen 'master'! We parked the bikes and in that pouring rain we shined our sole flashlight down the ravine and peered. As vehicle after vehicle whizzed by behind us, we saw nothing in the pouring rain - but every time we thought of leaving the screams reminded us that we had to do something. Someone was still alive. While I held the torch steady, my friend took a roll of nylon rope we had and gave one end. As I held on desperately he used it to slide down the side of the ravine with the torch now in his hand... 30, maybe 50 feet below we finally spotted it. An over turned oil tanker and beneath it a man on the ground.
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I was glad that he was out of the truck... In my mind I had imagined the goriest of things, but as he pulled his head up for another scream I saw that his lower jaw was bloodied, almost not there. My friend rushed down to him and tried to move him, gave him the rope. We all tugged - the plastic burnt in our hands, even the bloodied cleaner was now pulling. As my hands bled from the plastic friction I could hear the cleaner sobbing. How he owed his life to his master - how he was meant to get married? The injured man climbed a few steps up and then gave up. He fell down flat! Now what? ... I wondered.

I can hear the mumbling from down below - I gave up on you Krishna (the cleaner?)... I wanted to get you married. But now I have killed you! And I have killed myself! What will my brother say? Will they find out? We could feel that the man was losing his spirit; that this story would end in sheer tragedy.

My friend, being in the movie business maybe, had a stroke of genius. In the life of me I would not have thought of that... While I stood, still holding on to the rope in shock, he strode up to the fallen man and said fiercely, "Die Mother F *** er, Die. Give up on your faithful servant and the family who loved you. Die lying drunk here by the road in the dark. I will wait, and once you are dead I will wrap you in a saree and decorate you with bangles and bury you like the woman that you are!"
He stood up, quivering on unsteady legs - and with a rage and strength I would have believed impossible - he bellowed, "Who is that dog who called me a woman, I will show you who I am." I seized the opportunity and pulled hard on the rope as my friend continued to abuse and challenge him to come hit him, and I watched disbelievingly as the injured barely conscious trucker walked forward step by step in blind rage - He put two steps on the flat road and sunk down. Realization hit him - he was saved! Wails of gratitude - blessings to the police, with our flashlights and khaki raincoats I am sure that man still believes he was rescued by the police.

We had work to do, people to inform and an ambulance to send up - the cars and trucks on the road weren't stopping - we put them by the side, safe and rode down.

A few lessons still remain - the courage to turn back - the need to help - and the power of an enraged will to overcome all odds!
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