Since I tend to chant a lot, I had always reckoned that when the end finally came, God’s name would spring naturally to my lips.
Then one day, a few years ago, I was returning by cab from South Bombay, accompanied by my business partner. It was raining in sheets, the afternoon sky was brooding dark and the roads were glistening wet. Our cab was right out there in the front at the traffic signal at Mahim Church junction. The minute the signal changed, our cab lunged forward and made for the Mahim causeway in a streak.
And then it happened. The cab skidded hopelessly, twirling like a tipsy top right in the middle of the road. The brakes weren’t working and in a slow blur I saw the road divider rushing towards us, then the cab rotated counter-clockwise and I saw a white Esteem rushing at us, then the cab rotated again and the dividers rushed at us even faster and then the cab rotated another arc and I saw a red double-decker bus bounding down at us, just a few feet away. Through the slow motion blur I could see there was now a rush of all the cars that had raced behind us from the traffic signal, and they were so close that I could see the front row of drivers watching the death twitch of our cab mesmerized. The cab driver’s face was chalk-white and there was sweat pouring down his oily forehead. One hand on the wheel, he was trying to do things to the handbrake. Mind you, all this happened within seconds but seemed stretched out in time. And as the cab made a fourth inebriated pirouette, both my partner and I were certain our time had come. This was it. The curtains.
And, with Death just seconds away, this is what I heard myself say: F**k! F**k! F**k!