I grabbed my breakfast and rushed to work.  I connected my phone to the car system so that I could be on call while driving. From the moment I stepped into the office till I left late at night, I was so engrossed in work that I barely remembered anything else. I even forgot to have lunch, five cups of coffee kept me going. When I left the office late at night, I was still on call, with my phone connected to the system once again.

As I was driving past a bus depot, a bright light from the right-hand side blinded me. A loud horn startled me, almost deafened me, and I heard a loud screeching noise in the background. Instinctively, I braked hard and my car fell dead in the middle of the road. My heart was pounding, sweat dripping from my brow, and my hands clutched hard on the steering wheel. I was paralysed with fear. The bright light was still staring at my face.

When the lights went off, I saw the bus that had stopped barely inches away from me. That’s how fickle life is, a few inches to life or a few inches to death.

“Are you okay sir?” asked the driver who alighted from the bus.

“I’m ok,” I replied.

I started the car again and pulled over to the side. My phone was ringing again but I ignored it and got out of the car. I went to the nearby tea stall and asked for a bottle of cold water. I sat on a bench and sipped some cold water, my hands still trembling. I emptied the rest of the water on my head.

The owner of the stall came to me with a cup in his hand. He said, “Bhai, that was close. Would you like some tea?”

“Yes, thank you,” I said and gratefully accepted the cup of hot tea.

‘In a moment it could all have come to an end,’ I thought while sipping on my tea. My mind was flooded with a myriad of questions. ‘So fickle is life. If indeed it was to end in that moment, would I be going happy? Or would I go with repent in my heart? Have I lived my best life? Have I loved enough? What am I doing with my life?’

I felt a sense of gratitude in my heart for still being alive. It was as if I had received a divine warning to rectify my ways. I spotted a Ganesh mandir on the opposite side of the road. I paid the tea vendor for the tea and crossed the road. I removed my shoes and went inside the temple. I bowed to God, thanking him for this life and for the wakeup call. I vowed to not let this awakening go to waste. I walked out of the temple and to my car. Saw eight missed calls on my phone, but switched it off and drove away.

Zeyd Ladha