This is part VI of Red & White. Please read the first part before proceeding.
Vinda dashed out of his car and ran towards the bridge. He could see the shredded pieces of tyre lying on the road. The bus had definitely ran over a sharp object, causing the tyre to completely disintegrate. He could also see pieces of broken glass all around. The humming sound of the Engine was still audible. But the railing was completely shattered. So it was difficult for Vinda to lean and see where the bus was. He heard a dog barking in the background. The sound was coming from beneath the bridge. There must be some one down, he thought. In a split second he ran around the bridge and started to climb down through a narrow, steep alley. It was marshy and very slippery. But Vinda was not thinking about it. He quickly pulled his mobile phone out and dialled Gurjeet.
“Hello Gurjeet… hello, awaaz aa rahi hai kya? Hello… nahi tu meri baat sun. Yaar yaha Cheeaaa… aaah! …”
… and the marshy surface did him in. Vinda slipped, rolled, nearly collided with a rock and landed flat on his face. The impact was hard enough for his mobile to pop out of his hand and land inside the flowing river.
“Aarrrgghhhh! … SHIT!” Vinda let out a cry of frustration and put his had down in dismay. Just then he heard some one run towards him.
“Sir… are you alright?”
“Yes I am. Who are you?” Asked Vinda, getting back on his feet.
“Oh me? My name is Sakharam. I saw you fall down from the bus. Are you fine? what happened?”
“No I didnt fall from the bus. I came down to look what happened, but slipped.”
“Oh okay… so how did the bus fall down? Did you see it?”
“Yes I was just driving behind it. Some thing blew off and I… oh shit!” Vinda’s narration was broken by another loud noise. The bus, which had nose dived in the gorge had again turned upside down because of the flow of water. Thank fully a part of the rear end of the bus landed on the bank, which made it a bit steady. Both of them could hear cries or people from inside of the bus. They both ran towards it.
The door of the bus was on the left side and sadly, facing towards the gorge. It was nearly impossible for them to pull people out from the door. The emergency exit was on the rear. But it was also not usable because it was wrecked and too high for just two of them to pull people out of it.
“What options do we have now? We have to rescue people.” said Sakha while his dog kept circling around the bus. The cries were getting louder.
“There are people inside and they are alive. But we are just two of us. I guess we will have to get some help. I can go and…”
“Where do you stay?” Sakha interrupted him.
“It is too far. I dont think we have so much time.”
“Right. Why dont you go and get help from your village? how far is it?”
“About 3 kilometres. But it is on the other side of the hill. So it takes almost 1 hour to reach, even if we run.”
“Hmmm…” Vinda turned to the bus again. He saw some one trying to put his hand out of a window, as if he was asking them for help. “Forget it. I think I have an idea. Can you look at the window? If we break one of the pillars, it will create a passage wide enough to pull people out. I can break it using the toolbox in my car. What say?”
“Great! But where will we keep those many bodies? Look at the bank. It is so dirty and marshy. Moreover we will have to make an arrangement to take the injured to the nearby hospital.”
“Yeah right… how far is the nearest hospital?”
“There is one near the Palin Top foot hills. But it is not good enough. It is a small dispensary. Moreover I have hardly seen a doctor there. Best bet will be to take them to the Windsor check post. There we have a State Health Care Unit.”
“Great… then lets act fast. I’ll get the toolbox.”
“… and will search some dry leaves so that we can lay and shade people on the bank. Then we can put them on your car and take to the hospital.”
“Wait a minute. My car? It can only take about 7 people at a time, maximum 10. And the bus will at least have 40 passengers. We cant take them together. We will have to make…”
“Multiple trips?” interrupted Sakha. “May be. But let us pull them out first.”
Vinda dashed back to his Outlander. He had once broken the iron grill of his college hostel with the same toolbox. That experience was going to come handy to him. He also collected all the seat covers and carpets in the car so that he could use them to wrap around the seriously injured. Meanwhile, Sakha ran to the nearby fields to see if he also could get some thing to wrap the injured. There were some clothes wrapped around the scare crow puppets. He hurriedly removed them while Moti frantically searched for a human being present around. He didn’t find any. But he found some thing behind the hay stack on the farm which was going to solve there problem. There were four bullock carts good enough to carry those many people. He immediately dumped in it all he had gathered, patted Moti and pulled the cart to place from where Vinda could see it. “Hey… hello!” Well what was his name? Did he tell his name Moti? Never mind! I guess I will have to drag this thing to the Bank. Thought Sakha.
Thankfully the bank was not far away from the farm. But Sakha was finding it difficult to drag as the surface was sandy and wet. From a distance he could see Vinda trying to break the window open. May be we can drag it later together he thought as he rushed to Help Vinda.
“Hey… good that you came back. Can you pull this rail with all you have got?” Said Vinda while trying to break the window seal open with the help of a screw driver and the tyre jack. “Did you find any thing by the way? Any help?”
“Oh yes. Wo dekho!” Said Sakha while ripping the underside of the window wide open.
“What? A cart?”
“Yes. We can use them. There are four such carts in that farm.”
“Okay, we will see how we can. Now let us pull together. AAaahhh… yes!” and they both fell on the beach with the window pane in their hand. In the process, an injured young boy almost rolled out of the bus. As Moti ran to pull him up by the collar of his shirt, the scene gory inside the bus unfolded. There were bodies stacked on to each other lying in a pool of blood on the roof, which had now become the floor. As Moti pulled the boy out, they saw another hand all soaked in blood trying to grab some thing so that he could get out. Vinda could not take it.
“Aahhh… yuks! My goodness. I think I’ll vomit. I cant take it.”
“Listen… what is your name?”
“Aravinda, we have to pull every one out. This happens in an accident site okay? We are the only ones here. So we have to be strong. Okay?”
“Yes. Aye… I’m trying.” said a struggling Vinda, but stood up and gave his hand to the person who was trying to get out.
The impact was too much for the commuters of the bus. Bodies were thrown apart all over the place. So was their belongings. One by one, they pulled almost every one out. While they could recognise most, some were beyond it. Not all bodies the three of them pulled had their pulse racing. Some had smashed body parts while others had broken limbs. Half an hour later the three of them were standing between 38 bodies in all.
“Sakha… look at these people. I’m tying them with the clothes I could find from these bags. But the blood is not stopping. I guess there are at least 15 of them who need immediate medical attention. We need to take them to the hospital immediately.”
“Right. Look at that cart. We can put them on it and pull it.”
“To Windsor naka? Pagal ho gaya hai kya?”
“Yes. But we dont have to pull it. Your car can pull it if it can come down here. Few paces down hill there is a relatively flatter incline. It can climb down from there. Then we will tie these carts to it and we can climb up. Do you think your car can pull 4 carts?”
“Interesting idea. And what other option do we have anyway. So lets go. You try putting as many of them as you can on that one cart and I’ll tie the remaining ones to my car.”
It seemed the adversity was bringing the best out of the two. The plan indeed worked. While Vinda brought the carts in line and tied them together, Sakha quickly carried as many bodies as he could to the farm so that they could be loaded to the carts. The ones in really serious condition were put on the car. There were seven injured passengers who had luckily survived the crash and escaped with minor injuries also helped. Finally, they were all set to go.
“Do you think your car can pull it?” Asked Sakha.
“I hope so. Pray to Balaji. Common baby.” and Vinda put his feet on the accelerator.
Boy! Did the car respond. The Japanese technology was put to test. And it came out with flying colours. The outlander pulled the 4 carts tied to it with a decent speed and was quickly on the road. Windsor naka was 15kms away. Sakha sat on one of the carts while Moti ran the whole distance. Thankfully the god was with them. It did not rain that morning again.
“Doctor… is there a doctor around? Quick” Shouted Sakha as he ran inside the SHCU frantically looking for medical help. Looking at the site in the carts, people around rushed to help. All the patients were accommodated within minutes… and within hours, the police and press had also arrived. Every one asked just two questions. What and how?
15 people had died in the bus crash. 12 were seriously injured. The remaining eleven bore the immediate testimony of the heroics of just two people and one dog. Sakha and Vinda were gods for them.
To be continued…