A NARROW ESCAPE
Satish and Vidya landed at Boston Logan Airport to spend some time with their daughter, Rachana. She with her husband, Navin had come to receive them and to take them to their house.
“So, how are you Baba and Aai? Was the wheelchair service at the airport okay, Baba?”
“Yes. Did not have any difficulty. We both are good.”
“Okay, let us move.” Rachana and Navin loaded the baggage in the car.
In half an hour, they reached their home.
After relaxing for a short while, they had some refreshing tea.
“Baba, Now, tell me about your health,” Rachana said.
“To tell you of my health, I can not walk long distances and am unable to walk briskly even small distances. I get breathless immediately and have to stop for some time. The speed of tortoise goes okay with me for short distances. “ septuagenarian Satish said.
“I am okay in that respect. I am prepared to go for long walks.” Vidya said smilingly.
“Don’t worry Baba. We will take you by car to different places, you don’t need to walk long distances. Whatever short walk you will have to take, you take it at your pace. Even slower than a tortoise. No problem.” Rachana assured Satish.
With most of the things automated, Satish and Vidya started their stay in the U.S. with full comforts.
After the acclimatization for a week, on weekends the old couple was taken to different sites of interest in and around Boston. Satish used to keep himself nearby the car, while Vidya used to move rapidly with the young couple. Aquarium, zoo, museum, etc. were visited. Satish with his age and his coverage of different parts of the world had lost keenness in seeing such places. But his interest in nature was still active.
On Saturday, they decided to go for the afternoon picnic at Franklin Park.
Intense sunshine had pulled out many from their homes. A big number of local people had gathered in the garden enjoying the bright sun. Wearing the woolen jackets, gloves the foursome went to the park at two in the afternoon.
Satish found exciting the lush green lawns having the backdrop of almost bare trees. With dazzling sunshine, the atmosphere was very pleasant. After parking the car, they walked half a furlong at a snail’s pace. Made themselves comfortable on a bench. Rachana took out the thermos and they enjoyed the hot Ethiopian tea. The temperature was around two degrees centigrade. They decided to take a small peep into the woods. Satish led the group. The dried leaves on the ground were making a crackling sound. Ten-minute walk and then Satish raised his flag. They all stopped. Satish could not move any further. The family decided to turn around.
Unexpectedly, the sky turned dark, greenish. An air funnel, as though descending from the cloud, suddenly appeared at the south side of that big garden.
And there was an announcement on the public address system.
“A twister of EF rating 2-3 is suddenly generated near the south end of the garden. The funnel has hit the ground and roaring forward, it is moving towards the north. The winds are of speed above 100 mph. It can uproot or snap large trees and topple cars.
Everyone is requested to leave the garden immediately. Only two minutes are with you and the twister will strike the garden. It is moving from south to north. Please hurry up.”
There was a commotion. The visitors started rushing to the parking area and getting into their cars and leaving the park. Chaos prevailed in the garden.
With a deafening roar, the twister entered the garden.
Satish’s family turned around but could not rush back. Satish told other members to run fast and get into the car. He would come slowly in their direction. Of course, they did not agree. He shouted at Vidya and Rachana and insisted they run and get into the car. Navin was holding Satish’s hand slowly pulling him.
The two ladies ran and got inside the car. From there, they could see the funnel of the twister entering the other end of the garden.
“Baba, somehow walk faster” Rachana called out.
“We are walking as fast as Baba can” Navin yelled.
And there were creaking & groaning sounds from far away inside the garden. Few trees were windthrown, uprooted and a few were snapped.
Navin said, ”Baba, Let me try lifting you.” With all his might Navin lifted Satish. But the strong winds blowing faster and faster, making it extremely difficult for Navin. It became impossible for Navin to move even inches in the required direction, lifting Satish and keeping balance.
Satish said,” Navin, You go and get inside the car and be ready to leave the place before the twister comes closer. I will come at my pace.”
Satish thought, “If I run this much distance, I am sure to get a heart attack and collapse. If I walk slowly in an attempt to save myself from heart failure, the twister will take me along with it. It seems this is the end of my life. Let others be saved.”
The speed of the wind was still increasing from roughly 110 mph to 160 miles per hour. Satish had to keep moving at whatever pace he could achieve. He pushed Navin desperately to leave him alone. Finally, looking at the situation, Navin ran alone to the car. He got inside and started the engine. They could not keep the doors open as the speed of the wind was increasing rapidly. All the dried leaves in the nearby area were being blown and they were flying very high. The public announcement system was giving repeated warnings. “Twister has entered the garden at the southern end. In a couple of minutes, it will reach the northern end. Please, leave immediately.”
Satish was managing speedy winds and trying to walk as quickly as possible. A distance of 5-6 meters was left and Satish was struggling to move even this much distance.
He was just ten steps away from the car. And the twister came in close proximity. The sound of twister like a jet engine was deafening. Vidya, Rachana, Navin all were at the edge of the seat. Vidya prayed to God to give some speed to Satish and to hold the twister for a few more minutes moving in their direction
The spiraling twister having come close, Satish somehow was trying hard to reach the car. Navin opened the door for Satish to enter. The gusty wind rushed inside, and gave a big blow to the car and gave a tilt. The two ladies shrieked. The next moment car settled back. The twister reached within a few feet from the car. Extending his hand, somehow, Satish touched the door. The raging tempest was trying to push Satish away from the car. But he firmly held the door. Navin unlatched the door from inside. Satish with all his strength was clinging to the door. He came close and pulled the door. He somehow entered the car even though fast winds were tilting the car again and again. Navin closed the door and started the car at the fastest possible speed.
The spiraling twister was just behind the car. Navin pressed the accelerator and moved on. At the first turn, he moved the car in the direction perpendicular to the twister. After the most anxious few minutes, he looked behind. The twister was going in the other direction. Still maintaining the speed, they reached a safer place. Navin looked at Satish. He was exhausted and was sitting leaning backward. Navin said, “Are you okay, Baba?”
Satish had a smile on his face.
Their afternoon picnic had ended happily on a thrilling note.