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Humanity Is Dead

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Ravi jogged slowly, staring into the foggy darkness ahead of him. Stopping for breath, he looked at his watch. The digital screen announced “4:45 AM” in glowing white letters. He had left for his usual morning run fifteen minutes earlier, and he already felt exhausted. He always did a two-kilometre run in the morning, from 4:30 to 5:30, but on this particular day, he felt that he’d never be able to complete the two kilometres. He just didn’t feel up to it, after watching the news yesterday. So, he began to walk at a slow pace, thinking.
The news wasn’t anything particularly startling—it was just the usual; a couple of rapes, a murder or two, an account of an old woman abandoned by her sons... Nothing there was out of the ordinary, but it did get him thinking. He had hardly been able to sleep the last night, thinking and worrying about how the world was becoming.
He’d tossed and turned, thinking what kind of world his two-year old daughter was going to have to grow up in. He didn’t want her to grow up in a world where such people prevailed, where violence took place on such an alarming level. He didn’t want her to live in a world where humanity was all but absent.
As he ambled along, he stared ahead at the still-dark atmosphere and thought, this is so similar to the world—cold, dark and obscure. He wondered when everything had changed, and why. When he had been a child, the world had not been this way. Everybody was nice, there was honesty and humanity in the world; oodles of it. Now, they were what you could call a lost virtue.
He looked around. There were very few people around at this time of the morning, obviously. He saw only three people—one was a beggar lying down in front of a shop, covered in newspaper and tattered clothes, sleeping. Another was a man like himself, out for a morning walk. The third man was a newspaper guy, throwing newspapers in front of the houses of his customers as he cycled along slowly. He thought, I wish our newspaperman would come so early.
He saw a mongrel lying on the side-walk and was reverted to his thoughts about the world. He wondered what would become of the world in a few more years—by the time his daughter was ten, maybe fifteen years old. He didn’t mind it himself, he was a tough man, brought up to face the challenges thrown at him, but his little girl was not. She needed care, she needed safety, which, he thought, was difficult to get.
He had reached Shah Nawab Garden, which was a little distance away from his home, and was about to turn back, having walked for half an hour, when he heard a strange, screeching sound. Dismissing it, he turned away. He had just walked ten paces towards his house when he heard a loud, screeching noise right behind him. He turned in time to see a blue car crash into an electricity pole opposite him with a deafening roar. A minute later, he saw smoke emerging from the car, and the sound of burning rubber filled the air.
He stood where he was for a minute, paralysed. The car had crashed not more than ten metres away from him. He stood there, stunned, thinking about his close escape. He closed his eyes and muttered a silent prayer of thanks to God. He suddenly heard a strange, otherworldly sound coming from the car. He realised, soon, that it was a cry of help from the horrified person in the car.
Instinctively, he stepped forward, to go and help the man, but then he stopped. He thought, wait, why should I get involved in this? What if the police come here? He knew, from common knowledge, that the police would harass him indefinitely; probably even blame him for the accident, as he was the only one around at the time.
The cries from the car grew louder, as the smoke began to get thicker. He shook his head, as if to dismiss the thoughts and stepped forward again, but stopped. What if the driver dies? I don’t even have my car with me to drive him to the hospital. It’ll take me at least ten, maybe fifteen minutes to reach home. What if he dies in the meanwhile?
He sensed movement from the corner of his eye and turned around to see a man standing on the other side of the road. He looked at the car and then quickly turned and walked away, as if he hadn’t seen the accident. Ravi looked at him incredulously and thought, how can he do that? How can he not help this poor man?
Then he thought of himself and hung his head in shame. He thought about his family. They would have to go through such a lot if he got himself involved in this. He looked up, and strained to hear. He couldn’t hear the cries of the man now. He saw flames emerge from the windows of the car, and quickly turned away, jogging towards his home.
He reached his house twenty minutes later and walked in quietly, feeling exceptionally ashamed of himself. I blame the world for not being humane, but what am I? I left a man to die, even though I could have helped him.
His wife suddenly ran out of the kitchen and collided with him. As he opened his mouth to object, his wife cut him off, screaming, “Where the hell were you, and why didn’t you carry your phone with yourself?” He noticed that her face was streaked with tears. She seemed to be near hysteria.
He began, “I was-“
“Shut up and change right now! Your brother had an accident on the crossing near Shah Nawab Garden...”
His head began to spin. “When?” he whispered.
His wife answered, but he couldn’t hear her. He only caught fragments of what she said.
Half an hour ago... blue Chevrolet... electricity pole... burnt to death...
He snapped back to reality when he saw his wife standing over him with a concerned expression on her face. He realised that he’d collapsed to the ground in shock.
“I was there,” he whispered. “I was there, but I didn't help him.”




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