Youth brings with itself oblivion. The lack of premeditation, the joy of belonging only to the moment. I have heard many reminiscence that it its the time synonymous with living for them.
I remember the thick fog that night. That night when we trailed a lonely light from the bus ahead of us on the highway. When the journey was the essence and the destination, only an excuse.
Reckless we chased the illumination to spend the weekend in the hills.
It was the day before New Year's Eve. Four of us, on an impulse decided that the city was a cumbersome partner to welcome the New Year with. We invited more friends, called our regular cabbie and started off on a 250 kms long journey. Through the treacherous winter night we prodded ahead in the dense fog. We laughed and sang little caring that we almost fell off the road into a dark pit, saved in the nick of time by the alert and wakeful bus driver who was vicariously leading our pack.
Morning came and Lansdowne dawned on us. There amidst the suspended clouds we stood in awe at Nature's bounty. That small town with its pristine beauty welcomed us... We aimlessly wandered the streets, drove mules, savoured the many views of this Black Hill and even exchanged currency for what we believed was some authentic weed. We were startled when the weed turned out to be nothing but weed!
But young we were, so we laughed and continued aimlessly. We stuck conversations with passers-by, learned of history and property squabbles over evening tea with a family in their big disputed house on the hill. Relishing each moment and not planning for the next.
The weekend rolled by and after much posing and pausing we started our return. The Innova was buzzing with our energy. The spreads were rolled out and cards laid out. The journey began.
I dint realise when I went off to sleep, I remember the laughter in the car, the 'whose bluff is better' faces and then I remember the car screeching to a loud halt. Our car swirled to avoid what lay ahead. We could have been a compass which just completed its circle. The car stopped and through a haze of fear I lifted my eyes. Dreading each moment of the sight to come.
The spread-out road towered with green on both sides had white fumes going up into the air and beneath, the black road has trickles of red. There was a minute's pause when nothing moved. That minute of frozen images- a tractor that was still suspended in air and a man who gravity pulled faster at lay spawn in the green path adjacent to the road, his body in a series of shivers reminded me of a fish in air. A little ahead, right in line of our sight was a van and a crushed man. The steering looked crushed into that man.
The moment melted, crowds swelled up, the localities, my co-passengers, other travelers all appeared. Suddenly there was much activity, cars came and people were lifted and carried, to safer places I hope. Police, a man who someone said was the local politician and other responsible people came and cleared the crowd. We were asked to leave.
Back in Delhi, for many months this was a story we recounted to friends. Thanked God that we were not one of the vehicles in the accident, blamed the slippery roads and the cruel curves. What we never told anyone was that the gore, the glimpse of transient life and the fickleness with which all can change made many of us crossover.
Crossover from careless to careful, from being to thinking and in some ways young to older.