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March 5, 2004

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Whose side are you on?
Aly Zaker

Coursing through life, we choose many directions, many sides. We knew about right and wrong as things that are done and not done in a certain way from a very young age. Then we came to know about left and right. They gave us a sense of direction like the right side, left side etc. As we grew older we came to know about various other implications of sides as well in our lives. Because right and left had to do with politics. In fact when we were young it was right to be left. And then, of course, right kept climbing higher and higher in terms of being right and, today, to be right is right. At least the Policeman of the world says so. I am unnecessarily swaying with tide of unorganised thoughts. Let me try to focus on what I thought I would speak about today. I would venture to speak on such trifles as the right and wrong sides of the road.

I was driving through the Gulshan Avenue at seven in the morning of a Friday. There were only a few transports on the road. All on a sudden a car appeared at a considerable speed from one of the lanes in the left and before I could swerve to the right, rammed against mine. Fortunately for me, I managed to swerve enough to the right to have been able to miss the full impact. It took me a few seconds to get a hold of myself and get down from the car to see what the damage was like. The driver of the other vehicle was already in front of his car, trying to find out what I had done to it. Seeing me in front of him he said, “Well, thank God I had seen you through the corner of my eyes otherwise I would have been done for”. I said, “I had the right of the road because I was in the right side (not wrong side)”. He said, “what do you mean right of the road? While on the road every one has equal rights”. I thought it was useless arguing with him and left with an ugly dent on the left fender of my car. I, at least, was still alive. What happens most of the time in an accident of this sort is that before you get to realise any thing you are despatched to another world. This happens as our drivers do not care about the right of the road. And more often than not these drivers are at the helm of the buses. There was a time when we used to call the trucks, killers. We used to say “killer trucks”. But now that role has been taken over by the buses and they have earned the title of “Bus Mafiosi”. A slight digression. I must share another experience with my readers. I was waiting behind the wheels in a road jam. In front of me there was another car. A rickshaw puller came from my left and wanted to manoeuvre through the gap between my car and the one in front. In the process one of his wheels got stuck with the bumper of my car. On such occasions I usually surrender myself to reticence. I saw the Rickshaw Puller trying his best to get his wheel disengaged and eventually gave up, huffing and puffing. At this point the passenger of the rickshaw came down to me and said, “why aren’t you helping him?”. I said, “why was he trying to achieve the impossible?” “Because he is small and he has the right to”, said the passenger. Now, I became phlegmatic. I know that if I was hit by a bigger automotive contraption and was even done to death none of its passengers would lift a finger in protest. This should teach the mortals like us not to be sandwiched between the big and small.

Reverting to buses, have you noticed what is usually written as a matter of assurance on the back of them? It is written “in the name of God I leave”. What is not written, however, is that after this if I hit you, don’t blame me blame God. It’s also written, sometimes, that every passenger in this bus is insured. This, of course, gives little solace to its passengers. To get back on track with sides, there’s no “whose side” on the road of the city, country or of life. There’s only “my side”. Everything and everybody else can go to hell. My space and your space should be one, no right or left, no right or wrong.



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