The selfless good Samaritan : The Tribune India

The selfless good Samaritan

The selfless good Samaritan

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (Retd)

LIFE, at times, provides a humbling experience. We were driving from Brussels to Paris. To avoid the tedium of the autoroute, we took the national road. The weather suddenly turned nasty, with heavy rain and lashing winds. Passing through Compiegne, 70 km northeast of Paris, as I crested a flyover, the car engine gave an unhealthy jerk and died. I failed to revive it despite repeated attempts.

Leaving my wife in the car, I walked towards a roadside telephone booth. I was struggling to open the umbrella against the gale when a car coming from behind screeched to a halt. ‘You aive a probleme?’ the man at the wheel asked with the typical French thriftiness with the letter ‘h’.

As I nodded, he asked me to get in. I sat in the rear seat beside his fishing gear, while the man and his female companion were in the front.

Some 5 km outside the town, he stopped in front of a garage. Asking me to keep sitting, he ran inside through the stormy rain. Recalling the unhappy experience of a friend who had been conned in similar circumstances, my thoughts turned negative. I wondered why he had come this far when other garages were there in the town itself. Did he have some interest in this garage? Maybe he owned it, I said to myself.

I saw him talking to a person in greasy overalls, though I could not hear their conversation. I read a meaning in each gesture and prepared myself for a rip-off.

Coming back, he said, ‘We will aive to go to another garage.’

We did a U-turn and drove back past my car into the heart of the town. He found a bigger garage and repeated the drill of going inside while asking me to remain seated. ‘Maybe he did not get a lucrative cut earlier?’ my pessimistic thinking continued. I could not help touching my pocket to feel the wallet.

‘The manager says he will get your voiture (car) repaired,’ said the man, now completely drenched. He opened the car door for me to alight. I tried to detect a hint of triumph in his smile.

As I walked up to the manager, I heard the car behind me start and drive away. ‘Where has he gone?’ I asked. The manager looked at me curiously. ‘Don’t you know him?’ I enquired.

‘No, monsieur, he does not belong to this town. He was only driving through when he noticed that you needed help.’

‘But…?’ and the words failed me. I ran out in the rain, but he was gone. I suddenly felt dwarfed, seized by guilt over my evil thoughts, made worse by the realisation that I would never be able to trace and thank the angel; I had not even noted down his car’s registration number.

Later, when I shared my thoughts with her, my wife remarked, ‘The world is full of good people.’

‘It indeed is,’ I said. ‘The really “good” ones don’t even seek anything in return.’

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