In the summer of 2003, I met this chap, let’s call him Vijay, who managed a restaurant on the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. I used to drive from Chandigarh to home in NOIDA every weekend via that route. Consequently, we got talking and while we were never friends, we were friendly. On one such visit I was told he had an accident and was recovering and didn’t work at that restaurant any more. I called to wish him a speedy recovery.
We didn’t meet for the next couple of years, though he did keep in touch on and off. Around 2005 Vijay called and asked if he could meet me at my office, then came over a little later.
We shared a cup of tea in my office while catching up and he casually asked me which car I drove. My car at the time was a Hyundai Elantra and I told him so. After a while, he asked if I could drop him to an interview in Chandigarh. He was pretty banged up, recovering from his accident, limping and used a walking stick to boot – I wasn’t about to refuse an ailing man help towards rebuilding his life and not a quick drive in any case.
We sat in the car. I drove and Vijay sat at the back saying it was better for his spine. During the drive he called someone at the company he was to interview at and asked he could be met at the gate as security wouldn’t likely let him enter without delay and he wasn’t feeling well enough to go through the formalities and wait. From his tone, the person appeared to be the one who would interview him.
We reached the large building that was his destination. I could see a man standing alongside the entrance who appeared to recognise my passenger, who asked me to stop the car near the man. I did so.
Vijay asked me if I could open the door as he was having trouble with his walking stick. I got out of the car and opened the door for him, waited for him to climb out, shut the door and while he shook hands with his contact, got back into the car and waited for them to finish so I could say a quick goodbye and go back to office.
He finished shaking hands, turned towards the car, instructed me in an authoritative tone, in Hindi, to go back to the office – he would call if he needed me any further, turned around and walked away.
I never heard from him again.