Dubai: Sandwiched between a truck, a school bus and a heavy trailer, Gulabchand Geriya’s car rolled up like a ‘crumpled paper,’ with him stuck in the mangled remains of what was his new Mazda 323.
Moments later an astonished police officer pulled him out with some difficulty, invoking the Almighty for the miraculous escape.
Call it divine intervention or a miracle, Geriya escaped the four-vehicle pile-up with only a tear on his upper lip and a cut on his right thumb that required a few stitches.
While it is true that tolerance has a timeless relevance, having an immediate goal to work towards, such as the Year of Tolerance, is a great reminder of how each one of us needs to, on a daily basis, make this attitude an integral part of our lives.
It’s been exactly 25 years since the accident, but the 69-year-old still vividly remembers every moment of the horrific crash and its aftermath.
It was a usual warm May afternoon in 1995 and the father of three, who was 44 then, was on his way back home from work when he caught up with his fate that changed his outlook of life forever.
“On May 3, 1995 afternoon, I was coming back home after work. Back then, Garhoud bridge was just two lane. I must have been driving on a speed of less than 60km/hour when I saw a soft drink delivery truck abruptly stopping before my car (as it broke down) so I had to brake suddenly. I thought of shifting to the next lane but cars were passing by in a good speed and the vehicles behind my car were also at a decent speed and one of them couldn’t stop in time leading to the pile up,” said Geriya, retracing the moments before the accident.
The impact from behind forced the bus to run into my car, which in turn pushed my small sedan Mazda 323 under the soft drink truck. I could almost see my whole life turning upside down before me.
According to Geriya, who works as a Government PR Consultant, his vehicle was followed by a school bus with students on board that managed to stop, but the trailer behind the schools bus could not stop in time and rammed into the bus, severely injuring a couple of students sitting in the last row seat.
“The impact from behind forced the bus to run into my car, which in turn pushed my small sedan Mazda 323 under the soft drink truck. I could almost see my whole life turning upside down before me. My car’s bonnet rolled up before me, shattering the windscreen on me and through the rear mirror I could see the bus jumping over my car and headlights of the bus approaching my car seat,” added Geriya, reminiscing the event in vivid details.
Geriya clearly remembers that he was listening to a prayer on his car audio, which is believed to be effective in warding off spirits and seen to give strength during material challenges.
“With one hand holding the steering tight, I raised my right hand, prayed and screamed stop. Suddenly I felt everything came to a standstill. I looked around, my passenger seat, the front and back of my car were squished as a crumpled paper. Within minutes, the police and ambulance arrived. The police officer came to my car and tried to open the door but in vain. He broke the side glass and single handedly pulled me out,” recalled Geriya.
Recollecting the words of the police officer who was astonished to pull him out unscathed, he said: “The police officer asked me if anyone else was in the car, checked on my level of consciousness, injury and started immensely thanking God. He said ‘I cannot believe you have survived out of this collision, this is a miracle and only the Almighty has saved you, never forget Him’.”
Geriya was not entirely unscathed but compared to the state of his car, his bleeding upper lip and 16 stitches on his right thumb could only be termed as a scratch.
“At that moment, I was not worried about my injury but had two concerns. My children were only aged 10 years, eight years and five months old, I wanted to let my wife know about this incident. We did not have mobile phones back then but the police had. I requested him to allow me to call my wife and informed her about the incident,” he added.
His second concern was retrieving the documents inside his car.
“I work as a PRO and had my clients’ important documents such as passports, trade licences and other government documents. I felt like I lost all of this in the collision. But, the police immediately surrounded my car and recovered everything,” he recalled.
Geriya says that apart from helping him become a better driver, the incident helped him grow more patient and more spiritual.
“I had incurred a big loss in 1994 and didn’t have enough money to even pay for petrol. I was told by a spiritual leader that I will be gifted a new car soon. I feel this was God’s plan to drastically change my life. Through this I understood that adversities brought blessings with them and I grew in honesty, faith and patience,” he added.
Facing the biggest scare of his life helped Geriya put life in perspective, which led him to pardon those who caused the accident.
“I strongly believe good deeds pay back. The trailer driver left the location and Police decided to jail the bus driver for a couple of days and file a case against him. However, I said he was innocent and must be pardoned. He did not intentionally do this to us. What mattered most was with God’s grace we all survived,” said Geriya, urging people to be more tolerant with each other.
He also called on motorists to be more patient on roads, urging them to be respectful of other road users.