It required the media's chronicle of death to make some cosmetic adjustments to the rogue traffic of Patna outside St. Xavier's. One precious life has been lost and no lessons have been learnt. It was not merely a news item. It asked questions to which the state and its citizens have no answers. After all the child was not someone who came to school in an official car with a beacon light as a public marker of importance, escorted by khaki-clad bodyguards: a governmental undertaking with the honest tax-payer's money. She was riding a pink bicycle enabled by the Chief Minister's initiative on the education of the girl child.
To call Patna's traffic indisciplined would be an embarrassing understatement. It is wild. With the upwardly mobile social structure jubilating in new found wealth and no sense of social responsibility, many parents give their teenage brats motorcycles to emulate the devilry in the advertisements of those mean machines. And they live up to the peer-pressured demands of adolescent heroism to zed.
If that is not bad enough, the rogue bus drivers of the city, road-hogs who are infinitely more efficient as killers than the DTC, are always there to add to the tally of road mortality.
This morning's paper said that we shall have a new traffic regime in place in the months to come. It is being worked out in Singapore!!! I blinked once, twice and a third time. Why does the traffic arrangement of Patna have to be worked out in Singapore or Johannesburg or Rio de Janerio? Why not in Patna? Next we will claim that the governance of the state needs to be outsourced to some off-shores agency. Then why did we drive out the colonial British after the great freedom struggle that is touted in all the post-independence history books?
This morning outside St. Xavier's, there were traffic separators and two potbellied khaki clad red-capped constables by the local refreshment stall. They are the markers of a response to a tragedy that could have been avoided. Avoided very simply. By putting speed breakers. As indeed there should be speed breakers outside all educational institutions. This does not require international consultancy. Just common sense. But it may not be just as simple as applying common sense. St. Xavier's happens to be on the traffic route of very important people. People of national importance. People far more important than Reema Gupta. When they travel, the state cannot afford two bumps on their backsides. Cheers Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This was a Chronicle of a Death Foretold.