Thursday 31 January 2013


The Bees at Shivpuri

What's Your First Thought When You & Your Family Are Suddenly Endangered?
            We have all grown up in families where, as children, we have been blessed with affection and showered with love, hugs and kisses. In the eyes of the parents, happiness of their children is paramount, perhaps the only thing that matters. We’ve all been told that we are always at the forefront of our parents’ minds. As parents, we’ve said much the same to our children and shown it to them by walking them safely across roads, coddled them when ill, sung lullabies or read out stories to get them to sleep. We’ve all read about occasions when a snake was seen right next to a toddler, who was in his own world of fancy and oblivious of his surroundings and how, as a parent, the mother put herself at danger and rescued her baby.
            Is this universally true? Your answer will invariably be, “Yes, of course. What a silly question?” I beg to differ. When faced with sudden danger, your first thought will be to save yourself. The key word is ‘sudden’. In the case of a snake and the baby, there was time to think. Let me prove my point with two examples.

In India, we have three-wheel vehicles called ‘rickshaws’, where the driver sits upfront and the rest, whether fare-paying passengers or families, sit on the rear seat.In this particular case, the father was driving and his wife and two kids were on the rear seat. A 10-tonne truck was approaching from the front, well within his lane and at a moderate speed. When about 10 metres short, the truck had a front left tyre burst and swivelled left. The father turned hard LEFT and heard the truck striking his auto. He was thrown out and escaped. Sadly, he lost one child, who was sitting on the rear right part of the seat. Had the father turned hard RIGHT, the entire rickshaw would have been sideswiped and  probably turned turtle. All would have been injured, but not grievously.

In the second case, I had taken my wife and two kids on a picnic to a village called Shivpuri. This spot was in a natural bowl-shaped depression, about 30 metres deep. I parked at the rim of the depression and we all went down comfortably. The rim was lined with trees and we were generally having a good time in the shade. My seven year old son was playing with his slingshot and aimed at a beehive. The swarm of bees came buzzing down and my son ran towards us. Before we knew, the swarm was upon us. My wife and I ran uphill for the safety of the car, leaving our son and two-year old daughter behind. I realised this when I was half-way up and heard my daughter screaming. Sanity prevailed as I ran down and yelled at my children to lie down and keep absolutely still. My wife was in the car by now and the bees went away on their own. All of us were badly bitten and needed medical treatment, with my kids detained in the Intensive Care Unit overnight. We haven’t yet lived that memory down-it torments us. Parents thinking about themselves before their small children!
I am aware that most of you out there will call us cowards. That is just not true. The desire for safety is so strong and deep-rooted in one’s mind that the first thought that comes to you when faced with sudden danger Is SELF-PRESERVATION. Always and every time.