On the 28th of April it was just another Wednesday morning and I was standing on my balcony, watching the tiny cars from the 23rd floor, as they sped off to another day at work. I live on the Palm Beach Road, the highway connecting Mumbai to Pune and Goa,with the Arabian Sea right across.The speed level here is around 100kmph on an average and we think nothing of regularly taking the speed count to 120kmph,it is the norm on this road.As I took a sip from my big blue coffee mug I looked out at the many fishing boats on the sea,and almost then there was a loud bang on the road below,followed by many more.
What followed was terrible screeching of brakes and tyres and utter pandemonium.A car,completely smashed in the rear,stood in the middle of the highway,followed by 9 more cars.2 of the cars had completely turned and now stood facing the opposite direction.Shards of glass lay strewn everywhere and people from every direction ran to the cars,to help open the doors,to help the passengers out.Traffic came to a standstill,cars lined up on the highway,everyone was calling someone on their mobiles,everyone tried to figure out who was the culprit who had caused such a terrible crash.After the initial checks it was discovered that apart from a gentleman who had fractured his hand,there was no one who had been grievously injured,and this in itself was a miracle,as all cars were well over the 100kmph speed level.But one of the best things about the entire episode was that though there were 10 cars involved,none of them had a baby/child in it.Since it was a weekend morning most of the people were headed towards their work place.
The confusion and the fussing over and the checks carried on for some more time,after which the passengers were brought to the side of the road and made to sit under the shade of the trees.
It was then that I saw some people standing on the side of the road where the mangroves are.They seemed to be holding up something on a stick,holding it away from their bodies,people coming to take a look and then moving on.I figured even from such a height that it would be a snake,dead or alive I wasn't sure,but seeing how casual people were around it,I assumed it to be dead.I did not realise it the,but this poor reptile was the cause of the pile-up that could have become something really deadly and tragic.
One good thing here was that unlike many other times before,the cops reached pretty soon,and from somewhere,hunting the smells and sounds,the hound of reporters and photographers completely covered the spot.I mentioned many other times the cops arrived late,cause there had been instances of random fires starting in the mangroves or two-wheeler accidents happening,or public beating up a lorry driver and supporting the car driver(though it was his fault) and I had called up 100 and spoken to some policeman or the other,but they had only responded by asking me stupid details like is someone dead,how much injury is there,and even when I told them I am a witness from the 23rd floor and cant give such minute details,no one arrived on the scene even after they told me they would reach soon.
Anyway,that is a different story.The reason of the crash was soon evident.The poor snake,sunburnt and in search of some water and a cool spot,was trying to cross the road.The driver of the car saw the snake crossing the highway and immediately applied the brakes,avoiding crushing the reptile and in the process,09 other cars rammed into each other.Though it was a noble deed,the poor reptile couldnt be saved.It had already died due to heat.Later on,after the cause of the commotion was discovered,many of the people who had been in the cars that crashed actually laughed at the situation.
The confusion and commotion and traffic hold-up carried on for almost 2 hours and finally everyone went on their way, the damaged cars taken away by the tow trucks,the passengers been picked up by their friends and family,the glass having been removed.
And along the side of the road lay a long rare reptile in the midst of the huge concrete jungle, unable to find a place to rest,unable to find water in this heat,dead and soon forgotten.