Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When freak accidents strike

I had my very own Freaky Friday last week. It was a freak accident as freak accidents go. 

Waiting to board the train to work, one of the women trying to get in ahead of me fell back on to the platform, landing straight on my foot. The steely point of her high heel landed smack on the big toe of my left foot. I felt, rather than heard, it pop, and immediately thereafter there was a sharp stab of excruciating pain.

Weaving my way through the crowd, I looked down at my foot to see the nail oozing blood from three sides; the nail itself had been dislodged and had risen up half an inch out of place.

Being a fan of the “keep-things-on-a-need-to-know-basis” school of thought, that is all the detail I shall give you. No sense in disturbing the last meal you had.

So I rushed to the only doctor that I found with the ‘Welcome’ mat outside his clinic, 
at that time of the morning, and he ripped out the nail (this is the last gross reference to the nail), dressed up the wound and plied me with an anti-tetanus shot and antibiotics. 

An old nursery rhyme went, “For want of a nail, all was lost.” My situation, thankfully, was nowhere as bad as that. The freakishness, in my perception, arose from the fact that having my feet stamped is not a new experience for me. On an average, I get my foot stamped at least once every two days. I don’t know what cosmic meaning to imply to this. Why people become incapable of standing on their own feet when they find themselves in my immediate neighbourhood, I do not know.

Following this accident, many people asked me if I gave the offending foot stamper a piece of my mind. I said, no.

For one, I was in too much pain to go out looking for her. Besides, I had just about caught a slight glimpse of the murderous heel. I couldn’t very well identify it in a lineup, unless the pointy end of the heel had my blood on it.

This morning I read about another freak accident. A young man, barely out of his teens, it seems, climbed up the cage of a tiger at the Delhi Zoo, crossing the standoff barrier that separated the majestic animal within the cage from the cruel animals outside it. A witness said he had been trying to get a better shot on his camera, when he tumbled in. As fate would have it, he got an opportunity to click a selfie with the tiger.

The tiger didn’t pounce on him immediately, but stared at him for a while, that some witnesses have described as 15 minutes. The man must have wished for unconsciousness, blessed unconsciousness, so he wouldn’t feel the moment of death.

But terror often heightens the senses.

That was when the Freaky Quotient of the whole incident exploded.

Some do-gooders thought they’d be doing the hapless ‘insider’ a favour by pelting stones at the tiger. It only served to enrage him.

The media has gone overboard with its descriptions of what happened next, but since I’m keeping it on a need-to-know basis, I’ll just tell you that the poor man was mauled to death.
The incident got me thinking about freak accidents. Accidents where the most insignificant and trivial incident leads to damage far beyond the cause.

The effects could be death, injury or damage to property, or a combination of all of these, but what marks the freak accident is that it occurs in such unusual circumstances that no one can predict that something could go so wrong.

That's the thing about freak accidents. 999,999 times out of 1000,000, all goes well. And yet once in a freak while, things go so horribly wrong, as if fate, old fate, were trying to make up for all the moments we’d been allowed to go scot free.

Have you ever experienced a freak accident like this?


  1. Often, 'do-gooders' end up doing more bad than good. In the Delhi zoo incident, if the zoo authorities had been alerted and asked to handle the matter, there is a chance that the victim may have been saved.

  2. You are so right. Do-gooders do end up doing the exact opposite of what they set out to do. Whether the zoo authorities would have been able to do something or not is a question that is open for debate. Apparently it is not easy to tranquilise a big cat. Besides, the keepers couldn't even find the stun gun, I've read.



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