Friday, April 19, 2024

Bob’s Banter


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By Robert Clements

Ghost Wearing A Helmet..!
The skeleton standing in the middle of the road, at the dead of night, got me startled. “A ghost wearing a helmet!” I whispered in fear, stopping my car and walking towards the eerie bony figure dancing up and down in front of me. “I never thought ghosts needed helmets!”
“If I had only worn one when I was alive, I wouldn’t be a ghost now,” wept the strange figure. “If I had worn a helmet, I wouldn’t be seeing my two children starving and my wife struggling to make ends meet. If I had only worn a helmet then!”
“You are wearing one now,” I said.
“Now, when it is too late,” said the ghost, putting his hand on his fiberglass helmet and trying to tug it off, “Now it’s stuck to me forever!”
“What happened?” I asked.
‘I was a small business man, who was just beginning to do well,” wept the ghost, “I used to trudge all over town marketing my stuff.”
“A successful ghost story!” I said happily.
“My business did well,” continued the ghost, ignoring my comment, “and I was able to shift into a bigger flat, and my children were put into good schools… and then I bought a motorbike!”
“A rags to riches story!” I said.
“A riches to dust story!” cried the ghost. “It was the pride of my life, my most valued possession.”
“And what about the helmet?” I asked, looking at the contraption on his head.
“Ah the helmet,” said the ghost again trying to pull it off, “It was given to me by my wife, she said she loved my head and wanted it intact!”
“A wise woman,” I said.
“Who I laughed at,” said the ghost bitterly. “I never once wore the helmet!”
“Blockhead,” I shouted.
“Yes,” said the ghost, “Though it was more mincemeat when I had the accident. There was nothing left of it!”
“And how come you are wearing the helmet now?” I asked.
“She threw it into the funeral pyre,” said the ghost weeping. “And now I have to wear it forever, as a reminder of my foolishness.”
“What a sad story,” I said.
“There are thousands of us, who have lost our lives because of our stupidity,” cried the ghost, “But worse there are hundreds and thousands of pillion riders, wives and children who sit at the back without one. Tell them to save their heads and wear a helmet. And not just wear one to fool the cops, but to buckle it up. It’s no use wearing a helmet after you’re dead, it can’t even protect you from your guilt!”
I watched the ghost fading away, a helmet on his broken skull!
The story might be an imaginary one, but the deaths on the highways, and even streets are not. Like an avalanche, bikes have come to stay, but rules have not. A few years ago, I stopped by a traffic policeman and asked him why he was not penalizing those who were not wearing helmets, “They are poor people sir!” he replied.
And that is the attitude of those in authority. Not for a moment do they think that that same poor person once dead leaves behind a starving family, and because of the attitude of policemen and the stupidity of the bike rider one death causes a family to die.
Each of us has a responsibility to see that lives are saved. I had a rule I made for both my daughters. I knew that I could never prevent them from going pillion on someone’s bike, so I told them, “See to it that you wear a helmet when you sit behind!” “But dad, guys don’t carry an extra helmet!” They both cried.
“The guy who values your life will!” I said, and left it at that.
I once remember I was hopping mad to hear my eldest had gone on a long jaunt with a guy from her college on his bike. I called her and even now so many years later I can hear her shaky voice telling me, “But I’m wearing a helmet dad!”
And now there’s something else that’s crept in, and that is an absolute disregard for rules. Bike riders overtake from any side, and if that car or lorry swerves, there’s no place for bike and rider and even the unfortunate pillion to be under the wheels of a truck. And that’s instantaneous death.
Why do they do it? Well, I can think of nothing else but impatience.
We seem to be a country of impatient people. We do the most dangerous things, because we cannot wait a few seconds.I would suggest that the police make it compulsory for every rider to paste a pic of his family somewhere on the bike’s handlebar where he or she can see it all the time. “I’m going to take a risk by overtaking from the left,” he says to himself, then sees the pic of his little child or loving wife and stops himself. Isn’t it better that he comes home a few minutes late than never coming home at all?
There are thousands of ghosts like the one you’ve just read about, some waving helmets they should have worn and others copies of traffic rules they should have followed. Look carefully when you take the road next and you will hear them whispering and waving to you like those pitiable monsters in Netflix’s ‘Walking Dead’ pleading with you to ride your two- wheeler with care for yourself and concern for your family.
Hush! Can you hear their weeping?
The Author conducts an Online Writers and Speakers Course. For more details send a thumbs-up to him on WhatsApp 9892572883 or [email protected]


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