It was a fault in the traffic signal that made him famous at birth. While his mother carried him, his father decided to carry her in his own Maruti 800 when the labour became too much to bear and Mrs. Sen felt it was finally time to offload.
Mr. Sen did not consider asking for the ambulance. He thought it would be too late by the time the ambulance came cutting through the morning office traffic of Bengaluru. Moreover, why should he spend on an ambulance while his own car could do the job.
Things went well till the last signal before the Hospital. It was an automated traffic signal point unattended by any traffic police. There, due to a fault in the electronic circuit, the green flashed for 10 seconds for each 110 seconds of red instead of the usual 30:90 ratio. Vehicles piled up. The law abiding citizens of the day neither dared to overstep the signal, nor did anyone have the time or patience to inform the police.
Mrs. Sen at the back seat continued to writhe in pain. She shouted, “I cannot take it anymore … fast … fast..”.
“We are about to reach the hospital. Be a little calm, Sukeshi. Have a little patience, a little …”
“Patience .. you stupid …. I told you to call the ambulance. I don’t know when you will understand me. Had you sent me to my mother’s in Khadagpur, we would not have seen this day. Oh .. oh . . oh …. Oh my mother … he ma Kaali … he maa Durga.”
Mr. Sen honked and honked. He was sweating. His honking annoyed the driver of the car in front. He got down and shouted, “Hey man what is the matter with you? Can’t you see there is no way I can move the vehicle? You are blind or what….”
Mr. Sen also got down. “What to do brother? My wife is serious here and ye saala signal….”
The annoyed gentleman in yellow shirt glanced at the back seat and calmed down.
“Hey brother, you should have called the ambulance.”
Her groans became louder and ominous. It seemed the child had no patience to wait for the green signal. “Mr Sen, the child will come out now.. now.. right now… do something. O Ma, help me Ma Kaali …”
Mr. Sen panicked. The gentleman shouted, “Emergency … child delivery … ladies, medical men … anyone please come …”.
Coincidentally, there were a bunch of nursing students in a nearby van. A few other ladies also joined in. The car was covered with whatever clothing material available.
Those who should have taken the advantage of the ten second window of green signal forgot to use it. Nobody moved. Nobody cursed. Every one waited to know the outcome.
After some time one of the nursing students shouted, “It is a boy.” The gentleman in yellow shirt said to Mr Sen, “Congratualtions, Sir”.
Another student shouted, “We must reach the hospital immediately. The child needs urgent help.”
Mr. Sen Panicked again. “Immediately? How do you do that?”
The gentleman in yellow shirt shouted, “Brothers! Friends! Start your vehicles and give way. Medical emergency again. Come on, make way.”
No one knew how it happened. Mr. Sen found that now his car could move. A large number of volunteers had appeared to urge the people to move their vehicles and clear the way for his vehicle till they reached the hospital one mile away.
The mother and the child were taken to the ICU. Mr. Sen paced up and down the waiting room of the nursing home. His eyes fell on the wall television. The sounds was muted, but the news flash went on – ‘Child born in a car struck in the traffic Jam’, “First child in history to be born in a Maruti 800’. It accompanied a blurry video shot on a mobile phone. Mr Sen said to himself in shock and joy, “Udi baba! It is about my son. He is already a star.”
*** *** ***
Inside the studio of the First Superstar Network in Mumbai Mrs. and Mr. Sen waited eagerly to know the results of the final round of selection for the fifth season of ‘Child Super Star’. They had done everything they could do to train Maruti, who was now six. Both of them brimmed with confidence. Mr. Sen knew that Maruti would be one of the twelve, but he was not sure of the exact ranking.
Maruti’s second sign of greatness came as soon as he had learnt to walk. Whenever he heard music, he clapped and tried to dance. Mrs. Sen would proudly say, “Look. How our son walks like an accomplished dancer.” Maruti’s natural talent got a boost when dance classes were started by an ex-dance teacher in their colony. Considering the natural inclination of the child, they got a special fee discount. Nobody was allowed to enter the hall during training sessions. But Mrs. Sen managed to get the feedback that Maruti was always the number one.
The lady anchor came on the stage. Mr Sen said in a low secretive voice so that only Mrs. Sen could hear, “Isn’t she at least ten years older to you. But look at her. She looks to be no more than twenty five.
Mrs. Sen winked, “Why not? She is now engaged to the twenty five year old producer of this show.”
Light … camera… action.
The scantily clad anchor looked at the camera with her seductive smile and announced, “Hi, this is your host Nishita and I am here with the final selection list. As I announce the names, I would request the participants to come to the stage and join me. The first one to make to the list is … Mehar Jahangir from Kolkata.”
The studio erupted in claps as a seven year old boy walked to the stage from behind the giant screen that started showing clips of his audition rounds.
One by one ten other names were announced. It was time for the twelfth. Mr. Sen feared his wife’s anxiety might lead her to a heart attack. Mrs. Sen said, “Don’t panic. Keep calm.” She took his hands in hers.
Nishita announced, “And the last one to be selected is …” She stopped. Mr Sen’s heartbeat increased.
She continued, “Wait. It is a tie.” Mr. Sen took a sigh of relief at the increased probability.
“It is a tie because the last two participants are twin sisters from Bhubaneswar.”
Mr. Sen could not hear anything further. He got up and ran outside the studio.
Sitting on the steps of the studio building he could not accept what had happened. Mrs Sen too couldn’t believe what had happened. They sat there in silence brooding over their loss till they heard Maruti shouting and running towards them. He was brimming with enthusiasm. “Papa where were you? Backstage I was waiting for you. You did not come to take me.”
People had started coming out of the studio. Mr. Sen saw Nishita emerging from behind. She came towards them. Looking at them she said, “So, you are the parents of Maruti.”
Mrs. Sen said, “Yes.”
“And it was Maruti who made headlines some years back for being born in a Maruti 800?”
“Yes. While struck in a traffic jam.”
“Well, tomorrow we are going to shoot at the place where you were struck in the traffic jam. You are all coming with us. Your son has been selected as a wild card entry.”
(In response to indispire 285)