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Ticking Time Bombs

Updated: Feb 22

In 2006, I was driving to my daughter's school on St. Marks Road to pick her up after she stayed back for some event. She was a student of LKG then. In the car, I had my younger child, five months old then, with a helper. I accidentally touched a cab's side at a red signal, and there was a scratch on my car and the cab. The cab driver came bashing at me and started shouting. I used my wisdom and didn't open my window. He started banging on it, and I was petrified. My heart was pounding as I was getting late to pick my child up. My little one was beginning to cry as it got louder. The traffic came to a standstill within a few seconds, and 10-15 auto drivers surrounded me. All shouting. A traffic cop came to my rescue and asked me to pull down my window. I felt safer, but the cab driver pulled my car keys from the ignition the next second. I was almost shivering now.

My mind revolved around my five-year-old's safety even during this chaos, as she might be alone there. I called my husband, whose office was at least an hour away. There was no way he would come on time to save me. This cab driver was still screaming and was saying all sorts of abusive words. I couldn't understand the comments because I didn't know Kannada then. I could very well figure out his gestures. However, I felt helpless but felt like fighting, crying and whatnot. But I chose to request the cab driver to return my car keys. He was asking for an unreasonable sum of money I wasn't carrying. He wanted it immediately, and there was no way I could do that. I gave him my phone number instead to settle this later, but he could see my helplessness and chose to be furious. I remember telling him repeatedly that my five-year-old was waiting in school and had a five-month-old crying there. The cab driver was mad at me, and one last time he came near the window and screamed in Hindi. He knew I'd understand this time. He shouted, "Mar gaya tera bachcha" (your child is dead). The traffic cop had to intervene, and I could get my keys back. I always feel strong, but after what he said that day, I was traumatised, and I don't know how I drove from Hosur Road to St Mark's Road. That was the most challenging drive of my life.

I was too disturbed and exhausted. Hence, I pushed that horrifying statement behind my head and started driving. I just wanted to reach home safely with both of my kids. I reached the school late and found my elder one alone with the guard, as all the staff had left. I gasped a breath as I could feel she was safe. I didn't drive after that for almost a year. The words the cab driver used feared me so much that I could not repeat them to tell them to anyone, not even my husband. I am writing about it for the first time in 15 years.

Now when I think about that cab driver being able to use such disgusting words without hesitation, I understand that he must have had piled-up issues that pushed him to blast in rage. He probably couldn't do much about his problems as he didn't know how. It might not be his fault for not being able to resolve things in his life, but he was like a ticking time bomb waiting for a small trigger to explode. Unfortunately, I gave him that trigger by touching his car, and I was the perfect target for him, with a five-month-old baby, a female helper, and a five-year-old waiting alone in her school to vent his anger.

This incident forced me to think about many incidences around us which take an ugly turn for no genuine reason. E.g.,

- road rages

- a small discussion turned into a war of blaming and accusing

- getting mad at the simplest of things, e.g., a dog peeing on your car tyre

- extreme rudeness on things we can easily solve through talks, e.g., garbage issues with neighbours