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The Car Ride
by Sundar Rajan Bookmark and Share

Dr. Kripa, specialising in Community Medicine, had come to Hyderabad to attend a conference on Mental Health and Talk Therapy at the IT Convention Centre, organised by a leading NGO in Hyderabad.

Addressing mental health is the primary need of the hour and the conference with eminent speakers reached out to a good cross section of the society. At the commencement of the programme, the speakers were at the mike and there was no participation from the audience. As the programme warmed up, Dr. Kripa and a couple of other doctors from the panel shared their own experiences on depression and how they had weathered the storm. This broke the ice and one by one, the participants too started to share their difficulties. The confidence level also grew, so much so, the conference had achieved its objective of reaching out to those who required support.

Dr. Kripa got ready to depart, once the conference came to an end. She glanced at her watch and realised that only if she started immediately, would she be able to take the flight back to Chennai. She realised that she had to contend with bumpy roads on the way coupled with heavy traffic at this hour in the evening. She dialled for a call taxi and very shortly the taxi arrived to pick her up. A young driver in his mid twenties was at the wheel.

He got down from the driver’s seat and said, “Good evening Madam, I am Praveen”. He opened the rear door of the car and said in a pleasant voice, “Please get in Madam. I will take you safely to the airport.” With a smile, he closed the door of the cab and got in at the steering wheel.

Dr. Kripa glanced at her mobile and called out, “Praveen my OTP no is 2674.”

“Thank you, Madam”, said Praveen and started the car.

As the vehicle picked up a steady pace, Dr. Kripa was deep in thought, trying to recollect the take home from the programme.

Suddenly, the vehicle swerved to the left, as Praveen applied the brakes to negotiate the pot holes on the road. Dr. Kripa was jolted and she frantically tried to steady herself by holding on to the car door for her safety.

“What’s the matter, Praveen? Is there any other alternate road which may be slightly better?”

“No Madam. The road till we reach Masabtank are with pot holes. The road after that till Mehadipatnam is slightly better. On nearing the Narasimha Rao flyover, the ride from then on will be smooth till we reach Shamshabad airport. I will safely reach you at the airport well before time, Madam”, said Praveen. He turned round and gave her a smile.

Dr. Kripa looked up and said, “I understand Praveen. But please be careful. A couple of more jolts like this will aggravate my migraine.”

 

On hearing the word migraine, Dr. Kripa found Praveen turn stiff and his face turned pale.

“What’s the matter with you, Praveen”, asked Dr. Kripa.

“No Madam. I am ok”, replied Praveen.  

Dr. Kripa became alert and she straightened up and said, “Look Praveen, I am a doctor specialising in Mental Health and can quickly assess a person. Look at me as your friend and I can help you out.”

“Yes Madam. It is a long story in my short life of twenty five years. I have experienced everything in life and there is nothing more left for me to live”, said Praveen, blocking his tears. “I have gone through a very rough patch, which should not happen to anybody else. I am now trying to come to terms with reality. Since I feel comfortable with you, I will share my travails with you, Madam”, said Praveen.

“I am a native of Telengana and the only child of my parents, who are agriculturists. After my schooling, I came to Hyderabad for my under graduation and enrolled in a reputed college for Computer Science. In college, I fell in love with my class mate, Pavitra. In the three years in college, our love life blossomed. She had also introduced me to her parents as her best friend and they also came to like me and treated me as their family member. On completion of our degree, we got secretly married in a temple. We promised each other once both settle down in our career we would inform our parents and get married formally.”

“After college days, we were in touch regularly over the phone and would meet frequently. A few months back, I had taken a break to visit my parents for a week. I was in a remote village and I did not have proper connectivity. We also decided to stay away from phone so that we would begin to long for each other. When I came back to Hyderabad, I called up Pavitra. She was very downcast and I came too know that she was down with spluttering headache due to migraine. I persuaded her to approach her doctor which she promised to do without fail the next day. But the next day was disastrous. Early in the morning I received a call from her father informing me between uncontrollable sobs that Pavitra had suddenly passed away in her sleep. You will understand Madam, how painful it is, when we were planning for our happy days ahead and all of a sudden death has snatched my beloved from me just out of the blue. I was shell shocked and numbed. I vehemently controlled my emotions and attended to the last rites but could not do anything beyond that. As the family were also crestfallen I had to be of support to them.”

“I was employed in a company in Information Technology for sometime but sitting in front of the screen all alone for hours together only brought back fond memories of my beloved Pavitra  which distracted me from my work.”

“Further, I had also started to keep away from my family. I soon quit my IT job too and started to look round for other avenues where I will be mobile. So I took up a job as a cab driver as I felt I would make a decent earning by working long hours and which will also keep me diverted from my calamity as I would be meeting various types of people I chauffeur round.”

“I feel very sorry for you, Praveen”, said Dr. Kripa. But these things are beyond our control. If you ask, ‘Why me’ I have no answer but I admire the efforts you are taking to face the ground realities to overcome your irreparable loss, which time alone can heal.”

On reaching the airport, Praveen got out of the driver’s seat to let Dr. Kripa out.

Dr. Kripa settled the cab bill, took out her visiting card and handing it over to Praveen said, “My dear Praveen in this trip we have become friends. You need not hesitate to call me any time if you are depressed or down. I find you to be mentally strong and I am sure you will bounce back. Take heart.”

Praveen said, “Thank you, Madam. You have been so patient to listen to my sorrowful tale and empathise with me. This has really given me the courage and confidence to face the world.”

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01-Oct-2022
More by :  Sundar Rajan
 
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