Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Surviving under buffalo hooves...

There was a light drizzle.  In spite of it I started off from my Devaparthiva Road home to look up my recovering grand uncle at the hospital on the way to my fiancée's house.  It was in 1988.  I was on my new scooter, a Kinetic-Honda, which was only 3 months old. My route was through a stretch of narrow road near KG Koppal that was poorly lit.  Evening had already turned into night.

A short distance after I turned to that stretch of road, I found myself close behind a slow-moving autorickshaw.  I had noticed a herd of buffaloes to my left, some distance away before I neared that vehicle.  There might have been 15-20 in it. They were about to cross that road.  I was right behind that autorickshaw now.  I checked if the way ahead was safe to overtake.  It was, as there was no traffic from the opposite side.  So I slowly raised the throttle to overtake from its right.  

Like a 'bolt from the blue', nay, 'a black buffalo from the dark' appeared in front of me.  It had been crossing the road in front of the autorickshaw by which I was obscured.  It was now towards my left.  Buffaloes are renown for their lethargy and my grandfather used to refer them as 'brake inspectors'. But here, it seemed to be on some real urgency.  

'Brake Inspectors' have the 'right' to walk in the middle of the road.  Recent picture.
An 'autorickshaw' is seen on the right.

Its sudden appearance only about 6 feet away rattled me as the scooter was slowly gathering pace, only 25kph.  In a reflex action I applied both brakes [hand].  The sudden application and the smooth rain-wet road made the hind portion of the scooter swerve.  I lost balance and a fall was inevitable. All of a sudden, I was lying on my back, shocked, listening to my fallen scooter that was sputtering at some distance. I had fallen at the feet of that crossing buffalo that got rattled and galloped! 

More suddenly, clickety-clickety-clicketyclick.......... tens of buffalo-hooves clattered, running helter-skelter, confused by the unexpected mishap across their path.  They all began to run across the road, me and my head. I could feel one hoof scraping my eyebrow!  I still wonder how only one hoof scraped as tens of hooves passed above me within inches!  How could they know/see they had to step over 'something'?  They were stepping over me at speed, close to one another!  All happened in seconds.  Need I tell the size and weight of even an ordinary Mysore buffalo? 

After the autorickshaw had stopped and the galloping herd had crossed the road, a few passersby gathered at the spot.  Light was only from the overcast night sky and not from any street light.  In such light I saw one among them lift up my sputtering scooter to its stand, switching the engine off and then approaching me.  When he came near to see who this person was [it was dark], I called out, "Maeshtray!".  "Oh, is that you?" he said.  His familiar voice was reassuring.  I was feeling my eyebrow that had been scraped, luckily only just!  Some minor scrapes in the hand and no other bodily damage from the fall had resulted, but I was in a shocked state, but I was trying to feel reality.  He asked me for any medical help.  I said I was actually on my way to Kamakshi Hospital.  

The scooter was miraculously unscathed, except for a grotesque twist at the handlebar and the front mudguard.  One kind fellow had diagnosed the problem and straightened them out for me on the spot!

"Maeshtru" was kind to accompany me up to the hospital's first-aid room on his two wheeler and I was back on mine.  He was returning home which was close by.  I remember his help. A bit about this man.  "Maeshtru" in Kannada is Teacher.  Everyone called  him so.  He was a popular school teacher and state awardee [for best teacher].  Our acquaintance was very brief, so brief that it was only during the year-long tenancy of a small shed of his house to my doctor friend Dr.Rajgopal Nidamboor where he had started his homeopathic profession.  I would visit his clinic every night just to chat with him esp. on our walk back home.  Dr.Raj would walk beside me as I pushed my bicycle along.  Often, "Maeshtru" too would sit for a chat when no patients were to be attended, before closure.    

From opposite the hospital first-aid room a friend who had admitted his sick father, rushed towards me asking what happened.  I was still in a state of shock, but talking.  I still remember telling him 'Oh, nothing has happened to me' which this friend remembers even now.  He could recognize it was not normal behaviour, in spite of the injuries however little they were.

I soon saw my granduncle and continued with that evening's agenda.  The marriage was just a 6-7 weeks away and everyone was so relieved to learn that I had just escaped with only that much, in a most miraculous manner.

How lucky I was to stand up again, surviving under the buffalo stampede!  

How those tens of powerful hooves that crossed me missed crushing my head or eyes or body and that nothing serious and untoward happened remains a mystery.  The very thought of those hooves passing over my face chills my blood even today!   

No comments: