I live in such a nice and quiet residential neighbourhood. Joggers, walkers, people pushing babies in prams, walking dogs; houses in neat rows; the occasional pretty park. And yet, people have been warning me about not venturing out alone in the dark. How silly. I thought. Of course I have been taking the usual precautions. Or so I thought.
Last weekend, A was away. So I asked M, a new kid in my team to spend the weekend with me. I do find it unnerving to be on my own in the rather large apartment block that I live. The newspapers are so full of stories of robberies and murders etc.
So, M arrived. And we had a nice and lazy weekend. And then we decided to catch a movie and if we couldn't get tickets, we could always go shopping in the malls. It is sale season. Around 4.30, sunday afternoon, we took a rickshaw, talking nineteen to dozen, and had just crossed a rather large and busy intersection when suddenly, a guy on scooter swooped out of nowhere, grabbed M's bag and zoomed off. Before I could react to what was happening, M first fell off the rickshaw and then was dragged along the road, her hand firmly gripping the bag, even as she fell. A little way ahead, the guy on the scooter let go of the bag and sped away, but not before he turned to take a look at us. His face was covered by a handkerchief. And there we were. M, on the road, terribly bruised and cut. I on the rickshaw, screaming my head off. Soon quite a crowd gathered around us, helped her up. No one had taken down the number of the scooter. There hadn’t been enough time for that. It happened in a trice. In fact, now that I think about it, the rickshaw driver hadn't even stopped or slowed down.
One chap approached us and asked us what had happened and could he help. I asked if there was a doctor around. He returned with his car and took us to a doctor. M was very badly bruised and scratched. But no broken bones. She was shaking badly. That was the shock, said the doctor.
I had been warned before by so many. Including a few rickshaw drivers. But it was something that happened to others. Too unreal to happen to me. And yet it did. I have become so nervous after this. I am walking everywhere I can, on foot, sans bag. Carrying money in my pockets, ever so often stopping to look behind me and if I see a cycle or a bike, I go right off the road and onto the sides. (Am sure people must be thinking I am mad). But what else is there to be done? If something like this happens in broad daylight, in a busy, crowded place, are we safe anywhere? Or do I just shrug and carry on? I will I guess, after a while. But for now, I am too terrified, and very upset. I had after all called the chirpy M over for a weekend. And it had been her bad luck to be sitting on the road side. I was on the curb side. She however (as the young so often are, was more worried about her broken nails and shoes! She even asked the doctor if she could carry on to the movies!!
Perhaps, this is one more sign that I am growing older (and perhaps sadly wiser and less intrepid), but it will be sometime before I can hop onto a rickshaw. But life carries on. We were not the first, nor the last. Life carries on. Just another sign of the times. Speeding cars, pollution, new viruses, power shortage, daylight robberies on scooters.....