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An Unsung Hero
|by Prof. Arundhati Sarkar|
The incident occurred a long time ago. At that time, my father was posted in a mofussil town of West Bengal. Having been born and brought up in Kolkata I felt like a fish out of water in a district town. I eagerly looked forward to our occasional trips to Kolkata as opportunities to get away from the boredom of routine and de-stress my system. On one such occasion we were travelling to Kolkata in a state bus. I was enjoying views of green fields on both sides of the road. It was Autumn and the gentle warmth of the sun shone on the earth with a mystic radiance all its own.
All of a sudden, our bus stopped with an abrupt jerk. All the passengers leaned forward to see what had happened. I saw that a group of green turbanned rural folks looking ferocious had surrounded the front portion of the bus and were talking to the driver in excited tones. "Why don't you go to your local P.S and register a case against the errant bus driver?" I heard our bus driver saying. From all the agitated exchanges what became apparent was that a state bus which was on its way to some place from Kolkata had trampled upon a kid who had been rushed to the local Public Health Centre. Naturally, these people were agitated and eager to take a revenge.
All of a sudden, they tried to pull our bus driver down at which our bus driver sensing the risk involved decided instantly to drive away at full speed. They had already injured him in the forehead and he had started b leeding profusely. The mob hurriedly divided themselves on both sides of the road and hurled big stones and even boulders at our speeding bus while we took refuge underneath our seats. "Who can spare some water?" asked an anxious passenger as the driver's strength was waning. My mother hurriedly brought out our water bottle and gave it to the passenger who helped the driver to wash his blood- stained face. How the driver managed to drive despite being so seriously injured has remained a mystery to me to this very day.
One passenger who strained his neck backwards said that the militant mob was trying to follow us in some lorries and were trying to hijack them.
The atmosphere in the bus was very tense. We were afraid of being assaulted by an irate mob. The driver ultimately stopped at a place very close to the nearest railway station for he could not drive any further. All the passengers got down from the bus with a great deal of trepidation and hired rickshaws to go to the station. Somehow the need for a stretcher had already been communicated and the driver was being carried in a stretcher to the local hospital. I looked at his face. He had incurred a head injury and his face was covered with blood. He had actually saved our lives by his heroic act. I do not know whether he lived or died. But I am sure that he received no recognition for his courageous act. Neither was it possible for us to show him our gratitude.
He is to my mind an unsung hero to this very day.
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