After a long harried day at office, I was negotiating the traffic with impatience. I had worked so hard on that particular presentation to pitch our sales, which had been sliding downhill. Despite my best efforts, the buyers were not convinced. There had been series of meetings throughout the day to discuss the ways and means to save our company. We tried negotiating with the bank. But for no avail. If this continued we would go bankrupt. Not a nice prospect. Finally we decided to call it a day at 9.30 p.m. It was a long drive home for me. I was not looking forward to it.
Here I was waiting for the lights to change, tapping at the steering wheel, the day’s event passing through my mind like a bad movie. Lost in my thoughts, I did not notice the lights changing. The car behind me honked. I moved, slowly turning towards the left. A yellow Chevrolet, followed behind.
It started to rain yet again. It had been raining intermittently for 3 days and had stopped for a while. The dark clouds made my mood even bleaker. Barely glancing behind, I kept on my lane. Rains make it so difficult to drive. I felt my car lurching. The yellow car was still behind me. I kept driving straight ahead. The car behind me turned right and disappeared from sight. But after some time, I noticed it following me. May be it had taken a wrong turn before.
But it was uncanny; the Chevrolet followed me closely wherever I turned. I too noticed the driver of that car making wild gestures. It was unnerving. I accelerated, so did he. I slowed down to let him pass but he too slowed down, waving at me to stop.
Without warning I swerved to the middle lane, but so did he, waving menacingly at me. I shook my fist at him and accelerated away. But there he was, faithfully following me, shaking his head and pointing towards me.
I again felt my car wobbling but as it was raining I did not give it much thought. Now my mind was on the car following me. I kept changing lanes, without notice. The car followed me wherever I turned. I speeded up and took another detour. But there it was behind me. I was getting scared by this time. It was pouring. Not another vehicle in sight. Occasionally, a car passed by. No one had any time to glance what was going on. I tried calling the police but no network on my phone.
Suddenly I felt my car shaking. I must have drove over a pothole. Before I could react, the Chevrolet speeded up and stopped in front of my car. I had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting him. The driver got down. He looked so forbidding. He came towards my side of the window. I kept it close, stared ahead resolutely, avoiding looking at him. He tapped and said something, pointing towards the rear end. I could not hear him in all that rain. I saw another car stopping behind. A woman got down. Came and tapped. But I did not want to open the window for her either. They looked at each other, shook their heads and then kept looking at the rear of my car. Throwing caution to winds, I opened my window and asked what was wrong. She said my left rear wheel was on the verge of coming out. Then she drove away. Getting alarmed, I got down with a jerk and checked it. It would have come out in a few more minutes if I had been driving. And if I had not stopped when I did…………!!
I kept staring at the wheel like moron, my mind blank… Without asking, he got down to the business of fixing up the wheel. That made me break away from my stupor. We both worked at it, without exchanging a single word. I was grateful for his help. I wanted to thank him but he brushed aside and drove away, taking a U-turn, without glancing at me.
I started the car, changed the gear, and progressed slowly. My grim mood had disappeared. I was lucky to be in one piece. Switched on the radio. Suddenly interrupting the song, there was an important announcement……….. I braked, went numb and sat there for a long time, my head on the steering wheel, thinking, thanking my stars and that man in the yellow Chevrolet. The old bridge ahead had partly washed away some time back taking a few vehicles with it……...