Friday, April 28, 2006
Wednesday. 26th April 2006
It was Wednesday evening, 26th April 6.38PM
The dusk slowly started to creep in to the day. It was an unusually hot afternoon and my work officially ends at 7 PM.
I have tidied my desk. The previous week was an unusually happy week on personnel front.
The training programmes moved smoothly, to say a trifle better than planned.
I was assigned with a tough task of training existing production staff, the not so young ones. They haven’t gone to a Petroleum Engineering school yet they were excellent operation staff, the backbone of industry. Their age was a problem, their memory was a problem, though most of them could speak English, and their writing was a hindrance. But issues were sorted out smoothly about sending them to a technical English course prior to the theory classes. I have already started class room lecturers and field visits.
Tomorrow is Wednesday; I thought as I looked at the planner in my desktop. I have classes at 10AM. I have no time to write a blogpost for tomorrow. I thought I can to put a photo quiz to cover next two days.
A raised my eyebrows! I looked at my watch and thought that my dinner will be late.
“Who is that?”
“Who is that, come in” I quipped thinking that my dinner will end up today in a sand witch.
A black nose came first through the door, then the rest of the head. Now another nose head etc and finally their big bodies too.
I smiled at the two sets of white teeth, broad charcoal black face and the large noses.
They were my new trainees Michael and Peter.
“Good evening Mr. Jac” in unison
I replied and told them to sit.
“No Mr. Jac, we are already late. We are in night shift and we have come to check if we can attend your classes tomorrow morning after our shift.”
“Why not” I was delighted “be here at 10 AM sharp”
“Yes sir” also in unison.
Michael moved closer to me to ask some thing
‘What do you want Michael? I can help you, if you will ask me what is that you need please”
“Mr. Jac! You know that you gave me an Arabic English dictionary to refer with the text books” that was two days ago.
“Yes” I affirmed.
“Do you know that I don’t read Arabic well” he smiled showing his white teeth.
surprised though, I couldn’t hide my smile
“So why didn’t you tell me that” I was amused.
“Mr. Jac, we know that you made such efforts to get us these dictionaries and I thought that you will be offended if I return it immediately. Here it is “he gave me back one those thick dictionaries.
“Michael, you need English to English dictionary”? I asked him thinking about a small personnel one I have in my room.
“I know it is not in the company warehouse Mr. Jac” he was being very humble as that was his nature.
“Mike! I have one in the room that belongs to me. It is yours from tomorrow. Get it from me when you come for the class at 10 AM” I saw thanks in his eyes and that was enough for me.
“You can take this Arabic one too, so that you can give it to one of your daughters."
Now Peter was silent all these time and I saw him hesitating.
“Now what do you want, Peter !” I couldn’t guess what he wanted.
“Mr. Jac, I too need one dictionary like that for my daughter, if it is not too much to ask” he was a bit shy.
“Peter ! I have just one which is my personnel, but next rotation of my vacation, I will bring one for you” I wished that I had one more.
“Ok, it is deal, Mr. Jac” the smile I saw in him was real. As usual, I thought in my mind that, why is that I can’t smile like them.
They looked at the watch, murmuring among them that the bus will be waiting and shook my hands and said good bye
But I didn’t know that it would be their last good bye nor did they.
I locked my office door and went to my room hurriedly.
I was out after my shower and a change of clothes.
The dining room, in which I am to have dinner, was crowded and I finished my dinner quickly, as I had some more work on my weekly report. I was out quickly and was on my desk as usual to finish of the pending report.
Normally nobody enters my door with out knocking and now I saw the lock turning in with out a knock which was enough to raise my eyebrows. One of our drivers, Jallalludin barged in and I was about to ask him why he did not knock, but the expression in his face stopped me.
“Sir, you heard about it” he was breathing fast.
“What is it, for God’s sake” I asked him not getting up from my chair
“About the accident and the deaths. I heard it in the walkie talkie” his face was ghost like.
He told me that there was an accident involving the crew change minivan.
I was on the phone on an instant and at the other end was Muthu, an Indian friend working in the field station.
He was whimpering and told me that it is true and there are deaths and all are being rushed to the field hospital. He doesn’t have details.
I was out of the door with my car keys in a second; Jallalludin following me. I had just two faces in my mind, Michael and Peter.
Jallaludin stopped me.
“Don’t drive today sir, I will drive” I was angry but I saw that my hands were shaking. I meekly handed him the key of the pick up.
The hospital was five kilometers away, the parking area was full with vehicles and swirling lights. Red, green, yellow…I felt unsteady.
I saw that the whole staff was there.
Army personnel were on guard at the inner door of the hospital. I showed my ID, but he did not even look but flatly declined and told me “mumnooah” meaning forbidden or not allowed in Arabic.
I was looking for any faces that will clear me in, but I couldn’t find any.
Then I saw him… another of my trainees weeping and coming towards me. I held him steady. He told me the news, a death toll of nine including Michael, and that Peter is fighting for his life.
The security man in the hospital recognized me and came to my rescue, asking the army man to let me in.
I was walking in the hospital corridors like a ghost, my legs felt heavy. The security man took me to the critical rooms.
I saw all… every one of them except Peter, who was in serious shape.
That is what I call morbid. I can’t explain what I saw there.
Out of the total of thirteen in the bus, the number of survivors with severe injuries were just four.
My Peter died yesterday morning along with two Indian staff who was in the bus. They were all my friends, used to see all of them almost everyday.
My dictionary for my Michael is on my table near my laptop. I have told every one, not to touch that. Be it there. Mike is here with me.
Who will hold my hand when I go to see the family today?
Who will cry with me when I hold Michael’s daughter?
Who will I lean to, when I see all the tears?
Where is my Peter, who wanted just a dictionary for his daughter?
Where are my tears gone now?
I couldn't get a picture of Peter.
The picture on top is Michael.
Below is Joy and Sudhakar.