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Saturday , September 15 , 2012
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Stop and stare but do not help
Woman stands by stranger in tragedy

When Sumbul Yazdani left her Salt Lake GC 38 home on Friday morning for work, with husband Ghulam, she could never have imagined what life had in store for her.

She is a 38-year-old banker in the New Alipore branch of HSBC and he a regional head of Standard Chartered sitting in the Chowringhee branch.

On Friday morning, Sumbul did what Calcuttans today rarely do — step forward to help victims of a road accident. And in doing so, she confronted the ugly face of a heartless city.

Late on Friday, Sumbul narrated her tragic tale to Metro.

My husband and I usually leave for office separately, but today as he had an engagement at Taj Bengal, we left together.

Our car stopped at a signal opposite ITC Sonar, when my husband spotted a crowd on the other side.

I then spotted a bike lying on the road. A closer look revealed a woman sitting in the middle of the road and screaming.

The next thing I remember, I was running towards her. I jumped the median divider, I don’t know how but I did.

The girl was so young and she was sitting there with blood all around her, screaming for help. I then saw a man, who I later realised was her husband, lying next to her, his head smashed.

There were hundreds of people standing there, forming a ring around the couple, but no one stepped forward to help them.

My first reaction was to dial 100 from my cellphone. When an electronic voice responded, I just hung up. But within a second, they called back.

I shouted into the phone that there had been an accident in front of ITC Sonar and that we needed help.

The young girl was clutching on to my arm, and repeatedly asking: “O theek hoye jabe to (Will my husband be all right)?”

I could make out her husband was no more, but I could not utter a word. I just held on to her.

I then took the cellphone from her and started dialling numbers from her contact list. But most of them were unable to comprehend what I was saying.

Within five minutes of my having called 100, an ambulance arrived followed by a police jeep. The man’s body was stretchered into the ambulance by the cops, who wrapped his head with newspaper.

The police then said that someone had to accompany the young woman. Shockingly, the entire crowd melted away within seconds.

How could I have left her alone?

She was helped into the police jeep and I sat beside her.

My husband followed in our car.

The police decided to first go to NRS hospital. In the emergency ward there, the young man was declared dead.

The girl also needed medical attention and so she was taken away. Till the last moment, all she kept telling me was, “O theek hoye jabe to (Will my husband be all right)?”

When I was handed over her husband’s cellphone, I scanned his contact list and found a number saved as “Dad”. I called the number and broke the news about the accident.

Around 11am, relatives of the couple arrived at NRS. It was only then that my husband and I decided to leave.

I will surely go and visit the girl in the next few days and I pray to God that she gets the strength to overcome this terrible tragedy.

But I will never forget how she was sitting there alone, crying for help, as a crowd gathered to just stand and stare.

And when it came to accompanying her, no one stepped forward.

This is Calcutta!