After a wait of around an hour and a half, the Station Master announced that the ambulance to take Kesavan to the nearest hospital had arrived. By now Kesavan had recovered enough to walk on his own and was accompanied by Arjun into the ambulance.
Given his age and the weakness that he felt due to the recent epileptic fit Kesavan struggled to climb up the steps at the back of the ambulance. However, Arjun didn’t lift a finger to help him up.
Once the ambulance started on its journey, Kesavan started talking to Arjun. He first thanked him for all the assistance that he had provided so far and then started off talking about himself. Kesavan was a widower whose wife had died only last year after a brief period of suffering from stomach cancer. Both Kesavan and his wife had been primary school teachers in a Govt school in one of the hill stations near Kozhikode. He had been on his way to Thiruvananthapuram by train to attend a function of one of his old students, who had by now become a minister in the Kerala Govt.
Based on the simplicity in his words, his old khadi shirt and mundu, his worn-out travel bag and the old broken Nokia phone which Arjun had retrieved from the train, Arjun guessed that Kesavan was somebody who believed in living a simple life. And based on some of the old stories that the old man shared, Arjun understood that the old teacher was extremely worldly-wise with humility being his middle name. Kesavan was somebody who had led an extremely simple uncomplicated life so far and had been extremely happy while doing so. If anything, the only thing that the old man missed was the company of his wife of more than 40 odd years.
Around an hour later, the ambulance driver’s mobile phone rang which he answered after pulling over to a side of the road. After speaking on the phone for around a couple of minutes, the driver looked in through the small window separating him from Kesavan and Arjun and addressed Kesavan.
Sir, I just got a call from a friend of mine who also drives an ambulance. There has been a serious accident around 15 odd kms from here where two buses have had a head-on collision. More than quite a few people have been injured and around seven-eight people are in a critical condition.
My friend wanted to know if we could accommodate at least one small teenage boy who was losing blood fast and was critically injured and take him to the nearest hospital. I wanted to know if you would be Ok with that before I confirmed it to him.
Without batting an eyelid, Kesavan immediately asked the driver to call his friend up and inform him that they would be able to take the boy in their ambulance.
Half an hour later, the ambulance had two new passengers, the severely injured boy who was unconscious and had been put on a saline drip and a nurse, Sheela who was constantly monitoring his blood pressure and heartbeats. Once she had hooked the boy up to the ECG in the ambulance, she asked the driver to make haste to the nearest hospital which was around 45 kms away. While the distance itself was not too much, the fact that they were bang in the middle of hilly terrain in and around the Palakkad district and the pathetic condition of the ghat roads, meant that every minute was critical as far as the boy’s life was concerned.