Shravan was stuck in the same traffic signal, once again! In the past seven days, not for a single time had he managed to traverse this one, without having to stand at the red light for at least ten minutes. “The traffic control system in the city has gone to the dogs!” he cursed in his mind. Shravan was already running quarter of an hour late for the meeting. After throwing enough mud at the wall, he had finally got some of it to stick. He had finally convinced Mr. Desai, the chairperson of the imminent shopping complex project in the bye-pass, to consider his firm’s design, and was going to meet him today.
This project could take Shravan’s firm to the cream of the architects’ community, and here he was—stranded along with two hundred other cars at a damned traffic signal! The humidity of the dog day afternoon was not going to do any good to lift his spirits either. He started wiping his forehead, as he turned the car’s blower from medium to high. He didn’t want sweat-patches on his shirt to mar his preparations for this meeting. The timer of the signal showed forty eight seconds to green. Shravan unfastened the top button of his shirt, chugged the whole water-bottle empty and fastened his seatbelt. Ten seconds left. He turned on the ignition, pressed the clutch with his left foot and shifted the gear to first.
Three, two, one…
“What the..?” Shravan blurted out an expletive, like many others in the cars outside. The red light blinked twice and instead of green, the timer was re-set to one ninety-two seconds. Three more tedious minutes, it meant.
Shravan banged the steering wheel in frustration. The horn also got blown in the process, giving out a loud honk and alarming a few. In an endeavor to divert his attention and keep his calm, he looked out of the window. He could see the boundless stream of vehicles passing in the direction perpendicular to his. Why do so many people have to own cars? He wondered. Most of them can’t even drive properly, he told himself, looking at a sedan which was trying to overtake a bus, pretty rashly. “Nincompoops!” he uttered in disdain. Suddenly a few kids conglomerated around his window. Scantily clad, with ruffled dry hair, these were those typical traffic signal-urchins, who would pester the car-occupants for small changes. They were the nemeses for those unfortunate souls, who had let their guards and car-glasses down. They would badger them by clinging to the side-view mirrors, tugging at their clothes or hands, fidgeting with different parts of the vehicle, till their demands were met. Shravan saw the timer was denoting thirty-six. He gave them a few coins and shooed them away. Then he turned the engine on and very skilfully manoeuvred the car to the front row of the cars, which were on standby. This time, as soon as the red light starts blinking, he would put the pedal to the metal. The engine roared twice as he tapped the gas pedal and waited with bated breath.
Three, two, one…
While the red light was about to go off, a motor bike from the perpendicular direction dashed into the middle of the road, in a bid to avoid the upcoming red signal in his lane. Shravan, preoccupied with the meeting in his mind, didn’t see him coming and pressed the accelerator.
A few seconds later, people poured in from all directions. Blood oozing out from the body, underneath the motorcycle had painted the road scarlet, and the fumes from a post-collision car-engine covered the sky.
~ Samman Roy | Edited by Nandini
Image source: pixabay.com