Madhavi was grazing through Times of India newspaper. She accidentally sighted a small news item on a road accident in Japan highway. She normally would never read such items as these road accidents had become an almost routine affair. But this particular piece of item was about Japan. Hence the go-through. It gave a detailed account of one person’s death and 17 people’s injury, 200 more stranded on the road with a massive pile up of 134 cars on highway. All due to a truck which got rammed into a passenger car. The blizzard and heavy snowfall conditions prevailing there at that time was the culprit.
Whenever she read about blizzard weather conditions, she could not stop herself from being filled up with self-pity. Her son Mukundan was a victim of snow blizzard. That too at a most unexpected time of the year!
It happened on March 18, 2017. The winter already over and the summer slowly setting in. The best season for holidaying. What a horrible day! A beautiful day full of fun, joy, mirth and holy bliss suddenly turned ghastly. Death lurked on all of them with its devilish appearance. The very thought of that day sent shivers through her nerves and she shuddered to think further. But memories lingered and haunted her.
Mukundan along with his office friends were planning to go to Arunachal Pradesh. Since Madhavi had never been to that side of India requested the guys to include her also in their tourist gang. He warned his mother saying that their vacation would be a road trip on a jeep on the hilly terrain. “So, be prepared for jolts and jerks and back aches.”
Madhavi being a lover of nature and landscapes replied. “You don’t need to scare me by such warnings. Arunachal Pradesh is worth a thousand aches and a hundred challenges. I had heard about Bhagwan Parashuram Kund Mandir there. In fact, Kerala is known to be a Parasurama Kshetram. Now I understand that there is temple for that God at Arunachala Pradesh also. I am curiously interested to know how Bhagwan Parashuram, a God of south western corner state of India – Kerala, is worshipped in that north eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh. Not only this. There are many more things to see and appreciate there. Wildlife sanctuaries, National Parks, valleys, waterfalls, Se La pass similar one to that of Nathu La pass of Sikkim and so on….”
Mukundan said, “I don’t know about your temples. Our destination is Tawang and I know that there is a Monastery. If you get to see your Bhagwan Parasurama Kund Mandir in our trip, then okay, fine. Or else see your God in Bhagwan Budhdha Himself in the abode of Tawang Monastery. All Gods have same act of kindness and perform same abundant showering of blessings. After all God is omnipresent.”
Madhavi had absolutely no problem in travelling with those young guys. They took extreme care to see that she was comfortable. They were on the highway from Tezpur to Tawang. The trip was simply breath-taking. Amazing was too small a word to describe the nature’s beauty. The hills, the slopes, greeneries, icy winds, gushing rivulets with flakes of icesheets, all simply enchanting. At times, she was reminded of her Amarnath Yaatra which too was quite similar to this trek. But this was of a different kind in so far as the local people were concerned. This place far from maddening crowd, truly holy and blissful. Only few people were seen en route the trip and on roadsides. Vehicles were plying and quite often military trucks and army jeeps were noticed stead past them.
If everything was easy and cosy then what had destiny to do with them? Without some adventures, some unexpected events, some twists and turns, their trip would have ended a routine sojourn with no spice at all. So, in order to make their trip a memorable one, God devised a unique plan. It was around 2-00 pm. A long stretch of vehicles was on the road. A road block due to traffic jam. They were almost near Se La Pass. A sudden gush of choppy winds, snowfall and sharp blizzard struck nearby areas of Ahirgarh, Sela, Nuranang and the whole traffic had come to a standstill. A raging snow-storm had struck the area.
There were vehicles before Mukundan’s and there were vehicles behind Mukundan’s. Madhavi was wondering what was going on. The driver went out and collected information that a strong raging blizzard had hit the area and the local army had swung into action in rescuing people stuck up there. Lot of tourists from various countries, like Japan, Bulgaria, New Zealand had to be rescued and rushed to safety. The young guys including Mukundan went out to see if they could be of any help in such a natural calamity. Because they knew that unlike other places in India, here it would be dark very soon around 4-30 or 5-00 pm itself.
Mukundan saw a woman moving to safety on her own was actually moving towards a place without knowing or noticing that she was almost near a steep gorge and in any moment would fall into deep fathomless depth. Mukundan lost no time and rushed towards her and pushed her to the opposite side. It all happened in a fraction of a second. The lady was aghast at first for being pushed suddenly with a strong force. But soon she was made to realise the danger she escaped from. But Mukundan got stuck up in a pit of snow of two feet and could not come out. He shouted and screamed for help. His voice got broken and scattered in the blowing winds making it freak and feeble. The blanket of darkness also added to his miseries. The inaudible screams, invisible sight and lack of information about him in troubles all added to the intangible access to timely help. His friends were busy shifting the injured patients to military camps.
When things go wrong, things get complicated further and further. Mukundan was never accustomed to snow and here he was freezing. His legs became numb and now frost bite took the toll of his legs below the knee. In spite of being madly thirsty, he kept screaming for help. By a freak of good luck, the Japanese lady heard his shrill screams and alerted others. Army men and Mukundan’s friends rushed to the spot and tried hard to pull Mukundan. By then steep damage done was done. Blazing Sword Division of the troops did their maximum to rescue him and others.
Madhavi seated in the jeep was left to herself. Not finding Mukundan or his friends nor even any news about them, she felt very nervous and uneasy. She was worried that none of them was ever used to such unforeseen climatic conditions and they would not be in a position to withstand a sudden exposure to such harsh blizzard snowfall. That was exactly what had happened there at the site. Mukundan’s friends had bruises and slight hurts that too more due to handling and moving the patients. But Mukundan was worst hit.
Japanese lady came to Madhavi and tried to comfort her. Before she could utter a word, she burst into tears. The man who tried to save her was now in terrible misery. How could she repay? Could any word of gratitude express her feelings? Madhavi sensed something treacherous had happened to her son. The old saying “Operation success, but patient died” was it going to be true in her case? The Japanese woman survived but her rescuer, viz her son? Was he alive? What happened to him and where was he?
She jumped out of the jeep and rushed towards the Army men. Others were trying to hold her and stop her but to no avail. She saw many injured people with different levels of injury and wounds. Many were crying shouting shrieking in agony and pain. She kept praying and praying, “Oh! Parashuraama, save my child. If need be, take mine, but spare him. You are my only saviour. Please bestow mercy. Oh! Tawang Budhdha, don’t be a silent spectator. You have a paramount duty. Save my child. He who tried to help others should not be left dying.”
Her prayers did not go unheard. One officer took her to the military camp where Mukundan was admitted. He was given sedation. The doctor was hesitant to break the news. But Madhavi insisted. One of his legs below the knee was frozen badly and had to be amputated. Madhavi heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank God. He is alive. He is alive, never mind even if he is physically challenged. I will support him for rest of his life. He should be proud that he lost his leg while saving somebody. Hello doctors, you please treat his body. I will treat his mindset. Both will take time – his physique and his mindset to accept life. But surely he will take the jolts and jerks in his stride.”
The frozen atmosphere outside was getting cleared of snow and blizzard. Calamities come and go. But men have to develop mentality to withstand first and then to overcome the hurdles. Jack Ma said it correctly. “Fall seven times. But get up eighth time. Then you are acclaimed successful.” Mukundan fell only once. But he would learn to stand up. He might not be able to run. He might limp. But surely, he would live up to his mother’s notions and views.
It took quite a long time for Mukundan to come to terms with life. Madhavi made him understand that jolts and jerks which were quite common to hilly terrains were equally common in anybody’s journey of life and had to be taken in the same spirit. She made him understand that new slogan for life should be …
‘Don’t say -- Beware of jolts and jerks. Better you say -- Be prepared for jolts and jerks.”
Sometime in his life he will certainly go to Tawang Monastery and pay his respects to Bhagwan Budhdha.
The jolts and jerks will not deter him.