“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Road Rage

(Mother holding up photograph of her daughter, a victim of hit & run in Los Angeles)


It is 0935 hrs today; I am on my way to office on my Bullet motorcycle. On a narrow, dipping, curved stretch, a Honda bike comes straight at me, swerves to avoid a ditch and wham! , hits my right side. I am a fast rider, but very careful one. I am at around 40kmph when the bike hits me. Because my bike is heavy and at the last moment I had swerved to the left, I escape with a torn footwear and a sprained little finger. My toes are miraculously intact, except for a little pain. He had hit my brake and footrest with his bumper; both brake pedal and footrest got twisted and jammed. The fellow stops 10 mts away, glances back at me, and rush away.

I am 53; most of my peers do not ride a bike anymore; they drive cars. I am an expert biker, so I survive these lawless roads and drivers somehow. Suddenly, I am no longer the middle-aged man; I twist my bike around and give him chase. He dances through the oncoming traffic, takes unexpected turns and is a good 200 mts ahead. I blare my horn, my bike roars. 2 kms away, I catch up with him, overtakes, cuts across his path, gets down and as he removes his helmet, slams a right hook on to his jaw that sent him tumbling down from his bike. I pick him up by the shirt front, clinically assess the vulnerable points. He is taller, bigger, younger. I ask him, why the fuck did he run away. He said I am in a hurry. Exposed midriff. I punch him right on his belly and he doubles up like a folded paper. My right elbow hammers down on his back, and as he crumbles, I straighten him up and taking up a boxer’s stance, hit him with both my fists. The fellow bellows, don’t hit me, I am sorry.

Hit and run. You read it in the newspapers every day. You see it on the roads; Kerala has the highest number of road casualties.

A crowd gathers. People try to pull me apart as I take his keys away from his bike. People are shocked by the brutal attack. They threaten me. Some try to fling a punch at me, but I am too fast. I am surprised that the crowd lets the man go and turn their wrath upon me. I show them my bike, my torn chappals, my finger that had started to swell. You shouldn’t have hit him, there is Police to take care of such things. Accidents happen on the roads, they say, but you don’t hit people. Would you hit if it were your son? Don’t think we will care if you are an old bugger, we can beat you up worse.

In spite of the adrenalin rush, I am cool. I ask them – so you would rather side with someone who drives carelessly, hits me and tries to get away?

Moderates turn up and advise me to get lost fast. I move, though not so fast. Who the fuck are you to take law unto your hands, one man asks. I grin at him wryly; he is incensed. Look at the old fart laughing, he says and advances threateningly.

Once in a while the tables can be turned. Once in a while the victim avenges. Once in a while, you deny the onlookers the satisfaction of clucking their tongues at the poor bastard who got a raw deal.

I am unable to go to office. I call them up, take my bike to a mechanic and the damage costs me Rs.1,100/- plus a new pair of footwear.

I am not gloating about the violent way I beat him up; it has been decades since I got involved in a scuffle. But everyday on the road, I see youngsters getting away with rash driving, leaving the victims without a glance of concern. Those hooks on his chin, those punches on his midriff, that elbow hammering on his back- that’s for every single one of them who have cared nought about others.

And as for the onlookers, I realize what angered them was to see a victim fighting back. It has been like that every instance. When a woman retaliates at an attempted molestation, the sympathy of the crowd goes to the molester. If she just sits down and sobs, the crowd will make appropriate noises of sympathy and covertly watch her exposed body. If an old man is pick-pocketed, they will shake their heads at the lawlessness and feel their own wallets. If a child is hit as it runs across the road, they will blame the child and not the speeding driver.

Here, I raise my middle finger in salute, onlookers!

********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 25.03.2011


  1. Balan, such idiots are everywhere. The crowd could not accept an older man ripping apart this young guy. They are good for nothing; they just make a good audience.

    I hope this guy remembers this lesson for his lifetime. Hope all's well with you.

  2. @B: Thanks, B, I am fine, except for the slight swelling on my little finger; no broken bones.

    Accidents do happen. We too often become careless, but we should not run away, that's the meanest, most contemptible act one can do, to run away.

    It has been a new discovery for me, that I didn't lose my head. I distinctly remember the chase, watching him move away, but careful about how i drove, how in spite of the broken rear brake I managed to catch up with him. It gives me a new facet of self-respect that I could retain that old spark of fire inside me. I had become a cynic followed by indifference for the ways of the world since long, but am glad I still have the courage to fight injustice. For 1100 bucks and a new pair of sandals, I couldn't have asked for more.

    If I hadn't gone after him, I still would have had to bear the cost of repair and in addition, the frustration, the impotence would have remained irksome for a long time to come.

  3. You did not mention this adventure when we spoke on the phone yesterday?
    Fuck the masses! These are the very same" @##@^***?><##%**" who would watch in glee when a woman is beaten up in public or even violated in public.
    The moot question is who will bell the cat "the police" who is supposed to bring in restraint. Those scoundrels will extort money from you and the other fellow as well. To hell with the law less jungle.

  4. @Anil: It happened today morning. Live news from BBC ( Balan's Blahblah Corporation) :-D

    No regrets; no chest-thumping either.

  5. Wow..i admire your guts for chasing after the guy , but come on , Mr.B..its not up to you to physically harm anyone.

    You can and should chase him and demand that he pays you a compensation or something..but manhandling someone....not acceptable, unless it is in self defense..and in this case , this person does not try to hit you.

    I am not saying that one should not react to injustice , just that retaliating with violence does not prove anything.

  6. ayyoo..u hit him just like that? yea he behaved wrong, speeding off without not even a word of apology but beating him up...it went a little overboard B

  7. @Sumi: I can understand your abhorrence of violence; i am not a violent person basically. Far from justifying myself, I still would say that at certain times you have to satiate your thirst for blood. For eg;, I have seen women humiliated by eve teasers and other nuisance. I have seen men mocking at the victims who leave with shattered souls. I have also see women retaliating, reaffirming their rights to live and walk in freedom,yet mocked or held in contempt by the same society. (Remember P E Usha incident? She was a friend of mine; I know the terrible times she went through)

    Hit & run, as in my case can be likened to rape. It is a violation of my space, my liberty and my rights. I can condone it if the perpetrator apologized; in this case he ran away and thus flouted all the rules of a civilized society. An eye for an eye may leave all blind - though not always. Sometimes we have to assert our right to live, even if we have to resort to violent measures.

    Anyway, the incident had a good fallout; you have returned to my blog after a long time! Missed you around here! :-)

  8. arreh vah balan sir!you are a real dynamic person.I liked it.Even I would have done the same thing ,otherwise these people won't realiZE.I n my case ,I remember ,when I was a teenager ,in the bus,crazy men would try to take advantage (like you know what I mean)..so that time I just used to turn and stare at them and that angry stare would be sufficient for most .But at times ,I remember even yelling and just asking them "what are you trying to do".That would definitely embarrass them and show them their dignity.So what I mean to say is that ,even tolerating injustice or crime is a sin.Well done sir.

  9. yea what u say is justifiable too. most of those who come across such a situation may nt resort to violence but some other lesser means to express their anger for sure.also i think that guy wud be more careful in future to avoid a similar situation, which is like, u taught one a lesson. and having me back..i was always around :)


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