I had heard about it. Floating rumours, mentioned in party time stories, recollected by aging aunts and frustrated uncles. It was all so unbelievable that you were forced to believe in it as they were. As stories and myths, recreated to entertain children. Make them fee proud of where they belong. But everytime I saw my father, I saw a 60 year old, bald, short, passive educated man. The kind of men who work their asses off their whole lived for the return of nothing. Men brought up on values and ideals so strong that their morals might lay foundations. They are not the kind to fight. To take risks. To do what is right and not what they think is.
My father hobbled up the staircase in the evening. From the first look I knew something was wrong. It was different from the regular tired look that he brought back from a day at the office. He slumped into the chair with a grimace on his face. Wincing as he bent to untie his shoes. He asked my help, and as usual I sighed and made a fuss befor e I did help. As I was taking off the shoe, I noticed the slight bump on his forehead. His shin was blackened too. For a moment I was scared. Fear comes to a man before anger seeps in.And when anger does, your first instinct is to scream. I did.
I asked him what happened. And he narrated the whole story. There was an accident outside the factory. A man was hit by a trailer truck. Men gathered and the factory being located in a village area was soon witness to a mob. My father just happened to be in the area. He intervened as the mob was trying to beat the driver. And because of this reason, the people thought he was a part of the same company as the driver. Before he could explain, he was hit.
I was bloody pissed off. More so, owing to the fact that I was helpless. I asked him if he filed a police complaint. “Yes”. I asked him if he could identify the culprits who hit him “well, I don’t know them personally. Forgot to ask their names, but yes. I do know their faces.” I told him he should not go to office the next day. “NO …You think I’d chicken out like this. It’s nothing.” I asked him if he wanted me to come to the factory.”No thanks. I don’t want to be babysat by my own son.” I was royally angry. I didn’t want ot say a word, but what could you do with someone who is like that.
Later I asked him about the accident. Was the driver known to you? “NO”. Well, was the victim known to you? “NO”. Why in heaven’s name were you hit then? “because I interfered to save the driver and advised to take the victim to the hospital instead of creating a ruckus in the middle of the road.” And why did you have to do that? He looked at me like I was crazy. “There were two men almost dying out there. What would you have me do? Stand and watch!!”
For that moment I saw the stories come alive. I saw why my uncles were frustrated with an idealistic younger brother who did not know when to shut up. I could see why people in the society hesitated to talk to him about society problems. I knew why he hated when I took things too casually. For once, I could see I was wrong. I was happy that I was wrong. And for once, I was proud of my dad.