On the eve of May 14, I was heading home from work, as usual. I had taken the left turn at Vijay crossroads onto University road when I felt the bump at the rear of my scooter. The next thing I remember is that I was sitting on the road with my ears ringing and my right wrist broken.
Rewind 20 mins – After coming down the stairs of my office, the first thing was I had wrapped dupatta around my face – which is quite common, given the heat in Ahmedabad but then I had put on my helmet.
A few moments later, I realized, I was still sitting on the road and that someone had been kind enough to park my Vespa in a safer zone of the road. I saw my wrist and I instinctively held it by my left hand and placed it across my chest resting on my left shoulder. (Right now, I am typing with my left hand, my right hand now dressed lying flat on the table next to my system.)
Rewind 7 mins – I had stopped to have a snack and taken out my helmet, before getting back on road, I was very much tempted to not wear the helmet as I didn’t want to go through the process of wearing the scarf, put on helmet adjusting my specs before I hit the ignition. However, I went through the process.
I got up, holding my right wrist in my left hand. The adrenaline making it shake uncontrollably. The ringing in my ears had stopped replacing it with a slight dizziness. I stood holding onto my Vespa, took off my helmet only to find some wetness on my right temple. My specs had broken from the impact with the ground, leaving a small gash.
Fast-forward by 70 mins – I was sitting across the Doctor, my forehead patched up, looking at the X-Ray of the split bone of my wrist and being informed that I will have to get plates placed for full recovery. I was scheduled for the surgery next morning.
Surgery went well. What follows now is weeks of exercises recommended by a physiotherapist; keeping my hand elevated most of the times; sleeping is difficult as I need to be careful. All in all, there’s still a lot of P.T. needed, before I could have full function of my hand and be able to drive, again. Currently, my degree of freedom is 3.
However, the point of this is not the accident and absolutely not the fact that I went through it. The point is, folks, please please wear helmets – no matter what country or state or city or town, you are in. No matter what time of the day you are driving. No matter if you have gone to a place which is just 5 mins away. The only reason I got away from this accident with a fractured wrist and a small gash on my temple is because of the helmet. I can still remember the ringing in my ears, if not anything else. I still remember the giddiness I felt, nausea that kept rising. I shiver at the fact, what would have been the situation had I not been wearing a helmet and was just wearing the scarf, which is common with girls in Ahmedabad.
The thing that troubles me more is we do not forget wearing shades but compromise on wearing helmets. I know it could become hot and stuffy inside; that it becomes tempting to just remove it and drive with the wind blowing through your hair. From personal experience, I could say – the wind in your hair is not worth it. Wear helmets. And in cars, wear seat belts and this not just for the drivers it is for the passengers too, in both front and back seats.
Our body is pre-programmed to protect ourselves. The instincts tell us, rather at times, make us act. So why not protect the main system of our body so that we are at least, a little at ease while riding. In another accident where I was a pillion, it left me with road burns all across my right arm with stitches in my knuckle. My instinct as I fell was to protect my head. Yes, I was not wearing a helmet then. but my friend was. Fortunately, we both got out with just bruises and scars that we share now.
Let’s not wait for a rule or law to be enforced for something that protects us. Let’s also not wear those helmets that are more like hats. I see people wearing it just for the sake of not getting penalized. Let’s avoid wearing headphones with loud music. There is chaos outside, I know, but hearing music could be fatal too. Even I am guilty of this of hearing music, but after this incident, I am surely not going to.
To run this story home, I got in touch with a dear friend, Urvashi Patole, who is a biker and is the founder of first woman biker community in India called Bikerni. She has been riding a bike for over 15 years now which include stunt and dirt racings. Here is what she has to say – Helmets don’t need to be made mandatory. People should have a sense of self-preservation and safety. Wearing a good lid ensures protection from one of the most common accident injuries, that is to the head. Traffic is getting heavier and more indisciplined as the days go by, it’s our duty to ensure that we get home safe every day.
She nails it when she says that it is our duty to ensure that we get home safe EVERYDAY.