RASHMI OBEROI | 6 OCTOBER, 2014
It has now been about five years since I recovered from a major life-threatening accident..; my second one…and I am not counting the smaller ones like crashing down a hill-side in Shimla etc. In the past five years, I have time and again counted my blessings that it was me who was hurt and not my 2 children who were also in the cab with me that fateful night in December 2009… I shall survive as I keep telling myself!
It is one thing to go through pain and trauma yourself but quite another to watch your children suffer for even a moment. I knew I had the strength and courage in me to overcome this ordeal but had anything happened to the kids…I don’t know…I would have been completely broken. I saw the pain in my parent’s eyes when they saw me and what they went through during my recovery process…blessed to have them by my side 24x7, and their selfless love and care .
My left arm was completely crushed with multiple fractures and extensive soft tissue loss…the perpetrator a young man, speeding on the Gurgaon expressway under the influence of alcohol with another drunken friend, with not a care for himself or other’s lives. Thanks to his reckless driving and irresponsible behaviour, I now have 2 titanium plates in my arm, undergone skin grafting, bone grafting and four major surgeries…Yes! Pretty close to being a ‘Titanium Woman’ or is it ‘Iron Maiden’? The cowards of course fled from the scene of crime after ditching their brand new Ford Ikon.
The marvels in all this…not a scratch on the kids, they walked out of the cab covered in shards of glass but not a single wound. Mayank was in the passenger seat next to the driver but thankfully had his seat-belt on, Shefali next to me…so what saved them, only a miracle methinks. And Mayank at that time was just 2 months away from giving his Xth board exams…I shudder to think of either of them being injured and the repercussions thereafter. Mayank, at the age of 14 handled it all with so much fortitude... He called the Police on their emergency no, he called my parents in Panchkula to tell them of what had happened and he called my friends in Delhi for assistance. His school on learning of this incident, recognized his act of bravery, and awarded him the prestigious Arun Khetarpal Award... "Service before Self - For display of exceptional... Courage Chivalry Commitment... In the face of extreme odds." He was the 1st recipient of this award.
The second miracle…an NRI doctor following in the car behind who not only stopped to help and give first-aid, but stayed with me till I got the right medical help and his Mother stayed with the kids who were brave and poignant under the given circumstances till help in the form of my friends arrived. And it doesn’t end…Gaurav filed the FIR too, recorded his statements with the police and is my prime witness now and willing to testify! Kudos to you Gaurav Khatri! My guardian angel…Not many men like you today I have to say… God bless.
Lessons learnt in this…cops did nothing and were of no help…but yes, eagerly waited for their palms to be greased by the accused and did all in their powers to set them free… Medical aid given by them is of primitive nature especially when you are bleeding to death and waiting for their appearance that occurred after 45 minutes of the SOS call being made. I was taken to a shady ‘hospital’ next to a liquor shack that had quacks as doctors and a make-shift room with cobwebs and a metal bed that turned out to be the Operation Theatre! I was told that my arm needed to be amputated… Ha!! Thankfully I was still in my senses and forbade them to touch me and also announced that my father was from the army…so they backed off.
The next couple of hours a nightmare-my bloodied shoes were stolen, lost some jewellery, my friends had to resort to force and threats to get me out of this hell-hole and pay money too…finally being whisked away in an ambulance to Max Hospital…I have no recollection of this ride-that’s when I passed out.
The icing on the cake…my boss in a well-known MNC was cold and calculating and used my misfortune to stab me in the back…and so I lost my job. But like I said earlier… I Shall Survive!!
It took me a year and a half to fight for compensation from the insurance guys in the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. It was a painfully slow moving process. A judge who in my opinion, only gave a cursory look to cases instead of going through the nitty-gritties and in the end awarded me an amount so frugal that it could barely cover the cost of my medical expenses by my parents leave alone the other expenses that come post such an incident. So tell me, who will compensate for the mental, physical and emotional trauma that I went through? What about the 7% permanent disability that I live with and the changes in my life thereafter? We have of course appealed in High Court and that case is in motion since the past three years.
I finally got a summons to be present as a witness in the criminal case against the perpetrator. And so the nightmare continues... My day in court was traumatic to say the least. I came face to face with the perpetrator after 5 years. Of course I was overwhelmed with emotion...and anger...and I think tears welled up too as I relived every second of that fateful night. I guess I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for this.
The B@#$%^& sauntered into court...oozing of 'new' money...lots of gold chains...metallic bracelets...and what not. Well, ten times the jewellery I usually wear as I hardly wear anything. He walks up to me and says, "We've never met but I thought I must say sorry to you and also that the accident wasn't my fault. You see there was a problem with the car... Anyway, please don't give a statement... I will compensate you." Hold your breath people... He offered me Rs. 8000/- !!!!!!! Without a blink of my eyes, I whispered that it wasn't about the money; and even if he had offered me lacs, I didn't want a single paisa from him. But for the mental, physical and emotional trauma he had caused my family and me... He had to be punished. The court guys cringed when I showed them my left arm and the state it was in. He showed me his anger of course...he and his lawyer did their best to intimidate me as well. They kept delaying taking my statement. I was patient but post lunch; I walked over to the judge in person and told him about what was happening and how they were delaying taking my statement. So finally the wheels moved and I gave my statement albeit their taunting words at me. They were not concerned with anything else than trying to put words into my mouth and doing their best to arm twist me.
I am so angry at our system...at people like these who have no conscience. The scums of the earth and nothing less. Those who think that money can buy them out of anything...that the world begins and ends with money.
In all this I am richer... With virtues... For I have learnt the meaning of Patience, Tolerance, Perseverance and Strength. I am a better person today and I say... There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel and I firmly believe that everything always happens for the best.