The Nail

Mahi didn’t know how that day had turned out to be so special. It started the way most days do – a lazy morning, followed by a hurried getting-ready-to-work routine and a rushed breakfast. Then began the short, but seemingly unending, ride to the railway station – on a TVS moped that once belonged to Appachan when he was a peon at the local registrar office. It was always in the family, so when it came to a two-wheeler to use for commuting, it was a natural choice! “This is the safest thing you can use when you park it in the railway station da kutta”, said Pappa when the moped was handed down to Mahi.

The ride to the station would have been eventless if it werent for the tiny nail on the small by-lane that Mahi generally used, to avoid traffic. Two hours earlier, the nail had felt it was time for it’s act of glory – all these days it had remained the only thing between an old man on a rickety old stool and the hard brown floor. The strain on the poor nail was so much that it decided to give way. Down fell the rickety old stool, taking the old man with it, to the hard brown floor. The impact of this fall sent the tiny nail flying on to the street – where it lay waiting for Mahi’s moped.

As usual, Mahi stopped the moped for 2 minutes in front of the small Vinayaka temple and did the usual praying. It was more of a mechanical ritual than an expression of devotion. The moped knew, more than Mahi, to stop at the temple – come rain or shine. Mahi took the sharp turn into the by-lane and tried hard not to accelerate – the road was non-existent, but the potholes were very much there. The moped was in a good condition, but there was no escaping the fact that it was old! Mahi had thought of messing up the moped in the hopes of getting a new one, but that thought was driven out by Pappa’s casual remark – “Mahikutta, it’s just a matter of another 8 months. Then you’re not going to be here after that. If this moped doesn’t last, you could always take the bus for a while.” So, this moped, no matter how old, was still Mahi’s preferred mode of commute.

The nail was lying on the road, its head stuck between two pieces of stone and its pointed tip looking up to the skies. Call it fate or the laws of flying-objects, the nail was positioned to cause maximum damage to any made of rubber that passes over it. The moped, with Mahi on it, oblivious to the waiting nail, was coming down the very road.

When disaster struck in our case of the nail and the moped’s tyre, the sonic effects were minimal, to the extent of being virtually undetectable. The moped didn’t feel a thing but the nail on the other hand, had met the purpose of it’s Creator. Barely 100 metres from ground zero, the moped realized what had happened. Mahi did too, although Mahi’s realization was punctuated with 4 letter words that would have made Ammachchi do a somersault in her grave.

Mahi got down to assess the damage. It was bad. The only thing to be done now was to get the moped to a mechanic and find a way to get to work. All this in the next 15 minutes before Mr.Nair, the manager, could realize Mahi was late. The road, for all practical purposes, was uninhabited. Except for the old man on the erstwhile rickety stool outside a shabby tent, there was no other living soul. If one didn’t count the stray dog lying in the corner near the lamp-post that is.

It was a while before Mahi realized that the only way out was to leave the moped and walk to the nearest junction and get an auto. Just then, there came a Maruti 800 car on the very same road. A savior in a shining white automobile, perhaps, thought Mahi. The car seemed to understand the moped’s predicament and stopped. Sanju was not the kind of guy to just drive past when someone was in distress. Especially, if it was a young and lovely damsel like Mahi.

Mahi heard the door bell chime – it seemed to reflect the happy chimes in her own heart. Sanju was home.

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