A Bottle of Petrol

A Bottle of Petrol

 

The engine spluttered and my car came to a halt in the midst of heavy traffic. Not understanding car mechanics remotely even I asked for help. A few men tried pushing but failed. A young teenager opened the bonnet, tinkered around and to my dismay announced that the car had run out of fuel. Looking palpably helpless I was relieved when he offered to go fetch some.

Dusk   was   settling   and   winter darkness creeping into everything. Years of terrorism in Punjab had led to paranoia and I wanted to reach home fast .Wondering if the boy would come back or was angling for money, I hesitated. As the jam worsened, the honking and angry shouts of other drivers   decided   matters. Pushing the car aside, he found a bottle in the boot and asked for money. Sceptical, I gave him barely enough for rickshaw fare and petrol, cursing myself for being such a gullible fool, for a bottle of petrol would get me nowhere.

Tired and chilled, I almost took a rickshaw when he arrived. As I watched puzzled he fixed the bottle upright, connecting it with some rubber tubing somewhere to the engine and started the car. Doubtfully I asked if a bottle would take me up to Model Town. He offered to drive me down even as I looked at the youngster and wondered if he had a driving license.

Sitting beside him while he drove, I was suddenly seized with panic at my folly. I broke out into a cold sweat, my hands cold and clammy, as a knot of fear formed in my stomach.  Times were bad and everyone suspect. Money and vehicles were the most targeted and I had  jeopardised my own  safety  in the hands of this total stranger .I kept making small talk and learnt that his name was Tejinder Singh .

As we drove into my hospital gates I cursed myself for suspecting this good Samaritan. Giving me the car keys he asked for some medicine for fever. Seeing his bloodshot eyes and the thermometer I told him to stay the night at the hospital for treatment. I wanted to repay his favour but he had to catch a train to Dehra-dun for a training camp he said.

I gave instructions to the nurse about his medicines and dinner and thanking him, told him to rest awhile before leaving. Another patient required my attention and I went to her.

Suddenly I heard a terrible commotion and saw Tejinder fleeing, panic and frenzy written on his face. He tripped, straightened and shot out, disappearing into the heavy traffic. I stood numb and confused as a police constable ran after him, followed by many more led by an officer. As I hurried out I saw something on the floor where he had tripped. Flipping it over I almost tripped myself seeing on the laminated card  Tejinder’s picture and the words “Khalistan Commando Force.”

  
About the author
In love with life, I am a retired gynaecologist and have always wanted to be a writer but there never was time; I loved reading but there never was time. A busy career and three children kept me away from myself. Even then I would steal moments and write, off and on. Many of my poems and stories are inspired by my patient's lives particularly one who was an actress. I have been closely associated with Mother Teresa's home and other social welfare institutions at Jalandhar, Punjab. I've been President, Lioness club, Jal. and was one of the two women in Asia to be awarded by International President of The Lions Club International in recognition of work done for women's welfare. I also was on the advisory board of A.I.R. & Doordarshan, Jalandhar and chairperson of several social and cultural organisations. I enjoy Sufi music, Gurbani, & Indian classical music. Have won many awards for theatre and oratory. Now 69, I finally got over my technophobia and am learning to operate this laptop by a hit & miss method, almost independently. I'm enjoying every bit as I've found this platform for sharing my writings. I also enjoy cooking and embroidery. Off and on I try my hand at sketching too. I'm sure to enjoy my love affair with Morsels & juices and savour each flavour and colour. Wish me all joy and fun.
  1. I am highly thankful to team M&J for giving me this exciting moment of success. Feels tremendously good to be encouraged by writers of such calibre. Best wishes.

  2. It is indeed sad to see those with a heart of gold choose the wrong path. It is time parents and society ponder why these youth who can be the strength of any Nation go wayward.

  3. Gita thank you for your interest.The movie ‘Matchis’ was such a true depiction of the reality of the times .Left me v. disturbed as sometimes these children are innocent victims. Govt. policies the world over are running on double values.
    I enjoyed reading your story.

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