Creative Nonfiction: Guilt

Subhash Chandra

Subhash Chandra

It happened decades ago.

While driving one day, I noticed a young man in the bylane walking almost in the middle of the road. I honked, but he did not move aside. I honked a couple of times in quick succession. Still no response. I jabbed at the horn which blared and created a racket.

No, he did not budge and continued his even-paced walk; he owned the road he seemed to think. His back mocked and defied me... It even challenged me.

Back then I, too, brimmed with youthful energy, impatience, and hauteur of being in a Maruti-Suzuki that had been introduced not long back. I softly inched the vehicle forward close behind him and pushed the bumper of the car into his legs. He lost balance and tumbled over on his side. But got up quickly, patted the dust off his clothes, and gesticulated frantically, communicating his consternation, and emotional hurt. His piteous eyes conveyed his accusation. Then he moved aside and resumed his walk.

I should have got out and apologized to him. I didn’t. I should have gone into the temple -- in front of which it happened -- to beg forgiveness. I didn’t. 
I was in a daze!

Now, sometimes, I wonder whether the inflated self-image and arrogance one acquires by being in a car is often responsible for the fatal road rage cases in Delhi.

To date, occasionally the guilt lacerates me.

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