Fathoming strangers -Xenophobia
All of us yelled out as we rushed down fergusson’s stairs,12th was over!The midnight oil burnt had served its purpose.We hugged each other partly with a smile and partly with grief as we will be walking along different paths thereafter.This was followed by a party at Vaishali, and while leaving…we swore to keep in touch.My dad had dropped me for the exam,so I did n’t have my bike with me.I was walking along the FC road looking out for an auto.This is where the actual story began… A Hyundai Accent screeched beside me,the filmed glass over driver’s seat sank down the groove.A young face around 25 yr old,wearing Raybans emerged behind it. He peered out of the window and asked in a manner as polite as possible-”My dear friend..How can one get to Saras baug from here?”;a puneite will easily reckon how difficult it was for me to explain his way out.FC and saras baug are quite a distance apart.Well…don’t know why..but the idea of escorting this young man on his way flashed in my mind…I was looking for an auto and thought…an AC Accent will be a much better option to go for! but …my conscious mind held me back saying…arre I reside at Karve Nagar(Which will form a great triangle with FC and Saras Baug!)…how come I was going to benefit from this venture?,while I was in this dilemma,this young man requested me-“If you don’t mind,will you please get along with me and help me find it…I am a new one here.I will surely drop you wherever you want me to “.This benevolent gesture made me suppress my conscious mind and forced me to grab the cake.See…my 12th was just over and I was dying to get some fun on the run.I replied”Well…yeah I will”,he set the door ajar and invited me to step in.I felt rejuvenated as I entered the AC atmosphere inside,it was as good as ice compared to the hot noonshine outside. I greeted myself for a wise decision and cherished over the acumen.As I settled in the seat I gazed at the Wills packet on the dashboard..emptied to its half .That made me realise that he was some kind of ‘Bade baap ka beta’.Seeing me staring at cigarettes,he snatched some out of them and offered me one.I was left flabbergasted,but pretended to be benign..”No thanks,I don’t smoke”,”Oh sorry…anyway…I am Vineet..Vineet sinha”,and he stretched his right hand towards his left over the steering wheel.My heart started beating faster..I thought in this awkward position car will go berserk,and on top of it,we were on FC road which is jammed enough to have anything more.I shook hand with him in a hurry,in an aspiration that he will get back his hand on steering asap.”I am Rohit””You are from fergusson I guess””Yeah,I just completed my board exams and am really feeling sad that I will be leaving FC now,where are you from?””I am from Delhi,I have got some documents to deliver to my uncle here”So far so good, fine,but here’s some kahani mein twist.Vineet slowed down the car in front of a hotel and asked me to step down to have lunch with him.Obviously I refused.We are always told not to hang out with strangers.But he insisted so profusely that I failed to deny.Suddenly,my conscious mind popped in and I made desperate efforts to note the Accent’s number.To my surprise..it was MH 13,which is for solapur,he had told he was from delhi!,did he lie?within a moment the ideas of kidnapping and ransoms took over my mind.I thought,how can anything go wrong..I have got a cell,there are people around as well.I have grown up now(this is something every teenager thinks of him but nobody approves of!)The fear factor and dare spirits inside me were fighting.Who can guess what modus operandi kidnappers use these days?they have got brains wrinkled enough to conspire in a pro manner,like the way I was being fooled…if I can say that. Finally I settled my mindgame and decided to face whatever I confront(kudos for the virtual muscles I had! ).He ordered a couple of pizzas and started enquiring about me,where my parents work,where do I live etc.This made me doubt his intentions,weird ideas came to my mind like he must have told the waiter to mix a tranquiliser in my pizza…as it happens in Hindi movies!My feet trembled,but he seemed to be very normal,continued to tell about his business.Bit later,the pizzas were served and I finished the dish with throbbing heart.Thereafter I became bit more careful and decided to keep my fingers crossed during rest of the journey.I even lied to some of his questions.We were back in the car.I was too quiet and just gestured him for turning right or left.I wanted to get out of it asap.I was trying to pacify myself that no,things wont go wrong.At the same instant Vineet turned left whilst I had told him to turn right,I missed a heartbit,the car upholstery pretended to be my tombstone,and I started visualising the dashboard as my epitaph!”We were supposed to turn left,Vineet,turn the car!”,I cried out.But he was composed,did nt even look at me.All of a sudden,I found a basilisk silhoutte in his face.I clasped my hands over my bag,I must have looked like a lamb ready to be cut.He accelerated…I got the idea of what was going on…and gathered all my adrenaline spirits too yell out of the window for help.The word help was about to leave my lips when Vineet screeched brakes.He went out with the FM player kept on.It was playing…”Ye kahaan,aa gaye hum,yunhi saath saath chalte?”….what a farce!!! I longed to murder that mirchi RJ.By now..I thought it will be a great idea to escape..hardly had I opened the door when Vineet returned.I was so scared of him that I immediately closed the door again and looked at him like a child standing in front of teacher after being caught red handed for copying.He did n’t bother it at all,instead he handed over me a foot long cadburry and said,”I hope you would like to have one “.Oh…that is what he had stepped out for!,still I cluthed the cadburry in my hand and did n’t dare to eat it.After some more time full of distress,at last we reached the destination.It was his uncle’s three storeyed bungalow.He urged me to come in and have some coffee.I met his relatives and found everyone very nice.He introduced me to them and told how helpful,co-operative I had been,said”These days,people dont think so positively about strangers,but it was you who helped me”.I found it very ironical…had he known my thoughts about him before..he would have dropped his jaw.Before leaving..he even gifted me an ‘eyewitness’ DVD and also insisted that he will drop me home.I refused,and succeded in denying him this time,he had already taken enough of efforts for me..We exchanged contact numbers and waved each other.I came out of the bungalow,and looked at the cadburry still clutched in my hand.I smirked at it,and started eating it rapaciously,don’t know why,but I found it much more sweeter than any chocolate I had ever tasted! Now,when I look back at this incident,I wonder how wrongly we think about people around and how we miserably fail to interpret their behaviour.Concluding I will say,always put everyone in grey area first,don’t try to label anyone as black or white unless you are fully sure about the impression!
Rohit FYBTECH E&TC
Fathoming strangers -Xenophobia