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I wish they were 10 minutes early, he could have been saved.

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Our entire apartment people are gearing up for the celebration. Children are excited to participate in many cultural programs that the apartment society people have arranged and there is a big murthy of Ganeshji as well. I stood in my pajamas staring at the arrangements that were going on down near the celebration area. Slowly a tear trickled down my cheeks. I tried hard not to, but even after five years, it is still not easy for me. I know, if mom sees a single tear in my eye, she will break down again. I need to be strong for her. But how can I? Thought Mridula.

(Five years back)

“Mom! Please, I will help you later in the night with the arrangement, I have to go for dance practice. You know, this time it’s going to be wonderful. You just wait! All of us are practicing it so well, that you will be shocked”. Shouted Mridula at the door while she tried to wear her dance shoes in an answer for her mom who wanted her to help the Ganesh Chaturthi festival arrangements. Knowing her daughter who loved dancing, Vidya went on continuing the preparation without waiting for Mridula. Vidya loved festivals and she did it with a lot of interest. Their apartment ladies also had a huge group who always invited one another on such occasions.

On the day of the festival, Mridula and Vidya woke up early. Mridula’s father Sreekanth was already awake by then to help his women in which ever way he could. While both Mridula and Vidya took charge of the kitchen, Sreekanth got busy in tying the toran etc. Sreekanth was a very humble man who never raised his voice on anyone and Mridula was the apple of his eye. He always spent every minute of his free time with her. Sreekanth was always part of the family in everything that happened either in Vidya life or with Mridula schooling and other things. Vidya always shared everything about her day and they always discussed before making any decision in life. Mridula adored her father and needless to say Vidya loved her small and perfect family.

Sreekanth finished performing the pooja and all sat relaxing. Vidya got up to get some Prasad of the pooja to share among them, but she noticed Sreekanth being uncomfortable and rubbing his chest. She worried as Sreekanth being an engineer always had irregular sleep patterns.

“Sree, what’s wrong?” asked Vidya.

“ Oh! Nothing, just a little pain in the chest, must be gastritis”, answered Sreekanth thinking not to worry Vidya because he knew if he tells her the truth of how bad the pain is, she may panic.

Sreekanth thought of drinking some water to ease the pain and got up to get a glass. But the moment he stood, he just lost balance and collapsed on the floor. He fell unconscious.

A moment Vidya stood shocked but recovered soon and shouted for Mridula to come immediately who was busy in her room with her books.

“ Mom! What happened to dad? Why is he on the floor”, shouted Mridula in panic as soon as she came and saw her father lying on the floor. She crouched down to him and tried to wake him up. Vidya asked her to get some water. Vidya spilled some water on Sreekanth face to make him conscious. Although he was unconscious he was breathing. Vidya called an ambulance immediately.

The ambulance arrived, they did necessary and emergency treatment and confirmed that Sreekanth had a heart attack and needed to be shifted to the hospital immediately. Vidya and Mridula rushed him into the ambulance with the help of some of the neighbors who came as soon as the ambulance arrived. The hospital was not too far but they were supposed to take a different route due to the blocking of heavy traffic in the roads because of the festival celebration.

The ambulance driver rushed as fast as he could with the sirens screaming at its pitch. Unfortunately, they turned into another road block where people had closed the road to celebrate the festival with pompous decoration and a huge idol of the God placed in the center of the road. The entire road was blocked by people with bands etc. The ambulance could not go front and could not go back as traffic behind them blocked them to move in any direction. Though the ambulance could have reached the hospital in ten minutes it took more than forty-five minutes for the crowd to clear and make way for the ambulance to pass. By the time they reached and rushed Sreekanth to the emergency, the doctor announced, he was brought dead. Even if they could arrive 10 minutes before they could have probably saved him.

By the time they reached and rushed Sreekanth to the emergency, the doctor announced, he was brought dead. Even if they could arrive 10 minutes before they could have probably saved him.

Vidya’s husband, Mriduala’s father could have lived, a life could have been saved if there was no blocking of the roads and the crowd was controlled that day!!

Mridula moved out of the balcony shutting the screens and closing the doors. Since that day watching Ganeshji festival celebration brought fresh memories of losing Sreekanth forever and it broke them even more. Though time heals, it could neither bring Mridula’s father back nor Vidya’s loving husband. It left a constant hole in their life.

Dear people!! I understand festivals and culture are very important and I respect them too. But I kindly request every one of you to be a responsible citizen. Every minute is important for someone who is hanging on the last thread of hope while they count every breath. Not only on Ganesha festival but also any other celebration. Kindly do not block roads or the traffic. Keep it to the sides of the roads controlling the crowd in a line or better yet the celebration strictly in any open fields. But never blocking the movement of vehicles.

“Always make way for an ambulance and save a life”.

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