One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time.
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet
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I was as usual the last one to arrive. But then, birthday girl was spared that one day. Everybody was all set to bring in my birthday with a bang. "Quick Priya! You are already late!" they said. And off we went to Lonavala in our two cars.
While Rajat drove at a safe pace, Sameer loved to cut through the wind swiftly. The climate was amazing. We were talking, singing songs, clicking pictures, and teasing Rajat for driving too safely." Come on Rajat! Faster! See how he is driving like a boss." I said. "Who? Sameer? At the speed by which he is driving, I just hope they don't crash into something and die.." and before he could even complete his sentence, Sameer's car hit a rock at the middle of the road . Rajat slowed down his car, trying to keep calm. Sameer's car then spun twice, right in middle of the road and then hit the ground with a loud thud. Rajat stopped our car right that moment. If you ask me honestly, He froze. We all did. Everything was so sudden and expected, that we didn’t know how to react. Except me, everyone got down from the car and ran towards Sameer's car. I was shaken to my nerves. My limbs were numb and my tears wouldn't stop. One by one all of them came out of the damaged car. Only when the last person had stepped out, I gathered my wits, assured myself everybody was fine, and then I stepped out. There was quite some damage that happened to the car. Sameer and two others decided to take the car back to Mumbai to repair the damage done. It was already late afternoon by now. We stopped at the nearby Kinara restaurant to have our lunch.
The day didn't seem to end even after that. By the time we decided on halting at Payal's farmhouse, it had already started getting dark. Only Rajat and Payal's phone was working, the later not having network. The moment we got the location of the farmhouse, and we opened it on Google maps, the phone read to us, "switching off in 3 2 1.." and there! Now our last hope was gone too. Five of us were stuck in a dark night, on a deserted road, not knowing where to go! "Now only you can help us with the route Payal" we all exclaimed. We then blankly followed her given directions. After around 15mins of driving, she was clueless of the path. "Guys! I can't figure out the way anymore." She said in despair. And suddenly, her phone rang. It was the keep of her farmhouse. "Memsaheb asked me to call you. Said you needed directions to come over" he said. "Yes kaka! Thank god you called. We are lost. We have just come straight from the Kinara restaurant on the highway. But I don't seem to recollect anything" I said. "Go back to Kinara. I'll guide you the way from there. Don't worry. You'll be here soon", he said assuring us. We did just as we were asked to. We were driving into the dark. After half an hour of drive, he said, "You are almost here! Can you see me around?" We couldn't see a thing. Then suddenly, from the windshield at the back of the car, I saw a man standing with a lantern in his hand, waving to us. I yelled out loud. "Priya! Are you alright? What happened? " they all asked in concern. "Look! There!" I said pointing at that man. "Ahh...finally we are here!", said Payal. It was her keep. We all then walked out of the car. The night had finally ended.
It was indeed the most unforgettable birthday I had. And I hope I never witness anything near to this ever again.