We were walking back home from the hospital- I, Subodh and my nephew. Sevagram is a sleepy hamlet. There is one main road which runs parallel to the hospital, and most of the people here are usually patients, or students of the two colleges or the local schools. On national holidays, this main road looks deserted as the hospital, schools and colleges are closed. It was Independence day and except for a few fruit sellers and local grocery shops, most places were shut.
Suddenly the silence of this sleepy village was shattered by a speeding bike, which blared past. Every person on the street stopped in his tracks to stare. My knowledge of bikes is zilch, but this was one of those fancy bright bikes which sound as if their silencers have been stolen. The two riders were students- they didn’t look familiar, so they must have been from the neighboring Engineering College. Now, the main street in Sevagram is narrow- you have stray cattle on the road, auto rickshaws are parked haphazardly, and shaky looking worried patients often cross it without any regard for traffic rules. To drive at breakneck speed on this road is sheer idiocy.
As if once wasn’t enough, the bikers went round the street, blaring away, again and again. It was ridiculous. At one point they stopped at a tea stall to have some cutting chai. As we walked past, they started again, this time driving on the wrong side, and almost grazed my nephew, driving too close for comfort. “These guys will get killed”, I said, furious with their behaviour. We walked back home, and I kept angrily muttering about their irresponsible driving habits.
We had a relaxed lunch, when I suddenly remembered some things to be bought for the next day. I sent my nephew to do those errands. He returned twenty minutes later, visibly shaken. “Bua“, he said, “You are scary. I have to listen to what you say carefully. You have a kaali zubaan (a black tongue)!” Now, a black tongue is a colloquial phrase for someone whose utterances come true. People who have a sort of premonition of what will happen. I am no soothsayer. But I knew instantly that this was a story which involved the biker.
Apparently, my nephew was buying something, when across the road, he saw the same speeding bike skid dangerously and hit another bike. The boys were thrown off their bike and narrowly escaped getting killed. There was a huge commotion on the street and loud arguments followed. Black tongue or not, the way we behave, can easily let anyone predict the way we are going to end up.
Along with rights, come responsibilities. The story remains the same: whether you are a rabid biker or a rabid citizen. The future is clearly visible. You shape it with your actions.