” I should have died”. I got up at a snail’s pace – my wrists were twisted like a spiral shaped tornado had ravaged each strand of my veins. I didn’t recognize where I was and how I got to this hospital at 10 o’clock on a Friday morning. Nurses scuttled around all over the pure white-floored emergency room tending to patients ignoring what seemed like an odorous air-conditioning unit leaking and reeking of Freon. An African-American lady nurse stopped by to see how I was doing and said something along the lines of “Honey, you must be one of the luckiest guys I’ve seen. The ambulance said they don’t know how you walked out alive or how you even walked in one piece without any broken limbs after seeing your car.” It gradually came back bit by bit as I recalled each event like picture flashes juxtaposing my mental memory before I became unconscious and I said, “Thank you, I’m glad to be alive but I hope I still have a job.” At that moment I didn’t even realize the magnitude of what had happened, how blessed I was to be alive or in one piece that morning. That realization hit me hard shortly after.
I stood up and my head was spinning like Shamu had done a gazillion flips up there all in one go. (For some of you that don’t know Shamu is an Orca killer whale who performs at Sea World in San Diego, California, he’s about 32feet long and weighs 5 tons) I asked the nurse, “Where’s your phone, could I please use it?”. She said, “Sure, hon it’s right there” and pointed towards the administrative area that was about 10 paces away after giving me a wacky look for being concerned about my job, who could blame her? This was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever made to my family. I walked over step by step, petrified of the consequences, I knew my parents would be worried – a MASSIVE UNDERSTATEMENT! “Hello, Mom”, I said with a dim voice. With her grateful, slightly Indian accented, high-pitched tone – she said “Thank you God, are you all right Raja Beta? Where are you? Why didn’t you pick up your phone? What happened? We’ve been up all morning trying to find you?” One of the loving nicknames my mother calls me is Raja Beta, which means my princely son in the Hindi Language. Don’t know about the truth of me living up to that name especially after this incident but at least that’s the way she envisioned me and sometimes treated me too.
Remorsefully in a short-feeling insecure pitch I said, “I’m at the hospital Mom, I got into a car accident last night, Didi’s car Dazzle is destroyed. I’m so sorry. I should have listened to you, I can’t believe what I’ve done but I’m okay.” At that moment , my mind was confounded and my heart was sinking alone in the stormy waves of regret. My whole world instantly flopped upside down into an ocean I wasn’t sure I could swim in after hearing her voice. I definitely didn’t think about the consequences the night before when I was drinking with my cousin and his friends. “I’m just thankful I can hear your voice, are you okay? Where are you, we’re coming.”, Mama said quickly with urgency. I said “I am okay” but deep inside the panicky flood of insecurity exponentially multiplied through each iota of my being from the cilia like vibrations exploding out of my head and cheeks grazing my skin as new whiskers formed to the teats/nipples on my chest rapidly tightening as chills surged throughout. The arctic front started to strike me.
I obtained the address to the Hospital and gave it to my mother, it was somewhere in San Bernardino, California about 30 miles further East in the desert from my home-town Corona which is actually about 55 miles East of Los Angeles in what some locals know as the Inland Empire part of barren Riverside County. Afterwards she mentioned that my boss had called in the morning. Suddenly her sweet sound disappeared, in came the Sergeant’s gunshot filling my ear with fury to never be forgotten. She said, “Your boss called sharp at 8am wondering where you were, so I told her I don’t know?? He went to see his cousin last night and I haven’t been able to get in contact with him or his cousin, I’m sorry and am really worried myself. Then she responded back to me in the most disrespectful, inconsiderate and uncouth manner saying it’s his job to call me if there’s an issue, you don’t work for me blah, blah, blah etc. We’ll see you soon Beta.” She obviously wasn’t too happy with my boss’s reaction to the “Missing case of my dear son Samir?”. I’m not delving into details about my previous boss or offensive conduct she wielded with my parents it’s just not worth it, this was a very civil short-version of her reaction to my mother’s concern.
The night before I was leaving for Redlands to go see my cousin who had driven in from San Francisco for his sister’s 21st birthday party in Las Vegas that weekend – my Mother cautiously stood in between the door that connects the garage to the home, half opened with a keenly apprehensive look telling me I shouldn’t go, maybe it was her Motherly instinct. My Father stood in the garage in front of her and in a heartfelt tone told me I can come get you if you need me to. That happening repeatedly ruminated in my mind for days after the accident and asked myself over and over “Why didn’t I listen? Why didn’t I think to call? Was it my ego, my stupidity, my weary state, what was it? Why the HECK didn’t I do the right thing?” I tried to accept that I couldn’t change what had gone. I continued to ponder, “If it had to happen it had to happen or there could have been another outcome if I didn’t go that night and maybe that would’ve veered me onto a different road, who knows?”