TV anchor Ritu was busy checking the script given to her by her crew. Her cell phone jingled. Ved had sent an SMS to her, saying that he would be picking her up at 5 PM sharp. As she read the SMS a gentle smile bloomed into her lips. Earlier her mother had almost given up her dreams of getting Ritu married till Ved came. Ritu’s expectations about the groom were so high, that no one was fitting into the frame. She not only wanted a highly educated, cultured man but also have a good taste of music, a voracious reader etc. To her mother’s relief, luckily they found Ved fitting into the picture.
The evening traffic was unexpectedly very heavy and Ved was struggling to drive. Ritu was getting worried that they were going to be late for her favourite Sitar recital. Finally, the car had to stop as there was an accident in the front, and all the traffic was coming to a grinding halt. Cursing under the breath Ved tried to reverse the car when Ritu peeping out of the window saw her neighbour school girl Minu standing in the crowd.
She said, “Ved my neighbour’s kid is there. Let me check what is wrong” With her heart in her mouth she was already out of the car when Ved pulled her hand and said,” Ritu, If it is an accident it will be a police case. Let us not get involved in that. Someone will help them. I don’t want to miss the music” Suddenly anger bubbled into her head and she hissed,” Ved leave my hand just now” Within seconds she rushed towards the crying girl.
The girl Minu came running to her and said,” Didi, see my brother Arvind. A car overshooting the signal hit him. My Papa, Mama is also not at home” Ritu hugged her and comforting her said, ” Don’t worry we will take Aravind to hospital” As she stood worrying what to do next, looking at the boy on the road, with a bleeding leg, one man with a dirty creased shirt moved closer to them and said, “ Minu the taxi had come. Let us go to the hospital”
As the public helped the bleeding boy into the car, Ritu and Minu got into the back seat with the boy while that man got into the front seat. As the taxi started moving he took his cell phone and dialled a hospital number and told them to that he was bringing in an accident victim.
He turned to Ritu and said, “My name is Hari. In this traffic, Ambulance will take a lot of time to come. So I called the taxi. Since Mehta hospital is close by, we will take Aravind there” Ritu was comforting the girl while the boy Aravind seemed to be in a state of shock and almost remained quite.
Reaching the hospital, the waiting staff wheeled Aravind into the causality room. Ritu now dialled the number of the parents of Minu who were on their way back from Sridi and informed them gently about Arvind.Only then she remembered, that the money is to be paid for admission. But when she went to the reception she was told that the advance deposit was already paid by the Uncle of the boy, and the balance they can pay later.
All this time Ritu was thinking that Hari was someone known to Minu. But she was surprised when Minu told her that he just happened to come there when the crowd gathered and she did not know him at all. The doctor came out and said, “Aravind is fine now. There are only external injury and a minor fracture. But boy’s Uncle Harish bringing the boy in time to hospital, and then donating the blood made a lot of difference to save the life of the boy“
Both Ritu and Minu stared at each other. He had called himself the uncle! Taking direction from a nurse for the blood donation room, they rushed to see Harish, but he had already left.
After a week Menu’s brother, Aravind came home, and the whole society was praising Ritu for her timely help when heart in heart she thought that actual credit belonged to Harish. But why should a man wear such a crushed shirt? Somehow the crushed shirt refused to leave her memory. After five days there was a phone call from Ved. She thought he was going to apologise. But he said very briefly, “Ritu I think we have to call off the marriage. We are almost a world apart in the way we think”
Two months rolled by. One day when Ritu was in the car with her friend Meghan their car stopped on the way. Meghan said,” Luckily, our mechanic garage is nearby. I will call him” As she made a call on her cell phone and got out of the car, Ritu opened her book and started reading. She heard some voices but never paid any attention. Finally, Meghan got into the car. She heard a voice,” Madam, please send the car tomorrow for service. I will look into the problem” The voice sounded familiar and before she could see the person the car moved away.
Meghan said,” My mechanic Hari is a very good man and is too polished for a mechanic. His father was first servicing our car and now he is doing the job”Ritu remembered the dirty wrinkled shirt. So Harish is a mechanic. A man, who has to repair cars for his bread, took an unknown child to the hospital and paid the admission fees from his pocket and vanished quietly before someone thanked him!.
Next day evening she took a taxi to that spot. Getting down she found the Garage. As she hesitantly walked into the garage a mechanic looked up and said, “Yes, Madam, What is the problem with your car?” As she blinked and looked around Harish came from the back side and said:” Yes Madam, Where is your car?”
She looked at him and said, “I don’t have a car, I came to see you” Harish just stared at her. There was no recognition in his eyes. With a surprised expression, he asked, “Me, for what Madam?”She said hesitantly, “Two months back near Dadar Circle a boy Aravind was run over by a car and…” Now a smile came in his face and he said, “Oh yes, now I remember. You are that girl’s Didi. Right? How is the boy now?”
As she looked around he said, “Please come to my office” She walked behind him to reach a small cubicle with a table. He pulled a chair and she sat down.
Harish said, “Now tell me, Madam. Why did you come all the way looking for me?” Ritu looked at him, the wrinkled, greasy shirt and said” “ the First question is why did you pay the money that day? The second question is why you ran away from there”
Harish laughed and said, “I did not know that I would be court-martialed for this. Generally when accidents happen sometimes people won’t have enough cash or credit card, to pay for the admission. Secondly, if I hang around many time people come thanking me and sometimes they try to give me cash etc for my help. So to avoid all that embarrassment I vanish ones my job is over”
Ritu was now taken aback. She said, “The way you say, “That when accident happens etc, looks as if our case was not the first one you attended”
Harish laughed sheepishly and said, “Yes I had attended some six or seven. I had given my number to most of the constables and they call me when accident happen around here”
Ritu still blinked. Hari on his own said, “When I was in my final year of automobile engineering, my father met with an accident. The accident did not kill him. But he was on the road for four hours, and he died of bleeding. I dropped out of college and took over his garage. As much as possible I tried to save the accident victims. I don’t want another person to die for lack of help” There was dead silence as both sat in silence.
Ritu was tossing in the bed for a long time that night. She was ashamed of her own pride and the importance she attached to status, education, career etc. Ved had everything, but he lacked a human heart, the kindness which is the essence of life. Hari was always with a greasy hand, but he had a heart which was filled with kindness and sympathy for all unknown persons.
One day Ritu asked about Hari to her mother. Her mother said, ” Ritu when we think of compatibility in marriage we look for the highly educated person because we all have an age old belief that education will make a person cultured. Culture is not just opening the car door for a lady or waiting for the lady to sit first. Culture is when you don’t hurt another person’s feeling and be always kind in heart. Finally, the warmth and kindness for each other is the only factor which works in long run in marriage”
After two months when the famous TV anchor Ritu married a car mechanic she was the topic of gossip everywhere. It is difficult for the world to understand, anything beyond the word, “the Status”