Thursday, 30 May 2013

Paying It Forward.. A Story of Immense Compassion.

For, it has a potential to go viral..

The programs conducted on the campus of Initiatives of Change, at Panchgani, Maharashtra, India, are often described as ‘life changing’ ones by the participants. And through these programs, sometimes, come out stories that could inspire humanity…

Here is one such story, stranger than the fiction, narrated by Capt. Suri, a senior pilot and an official of Air India, a participant of the program, ‘Making a Difference, Together’,  specially designed for the very senior officers of Air India.
Captain Suri, an important member of the rescue team of the Kandahar highjack victims in the last week of Dec, 2000, narrates his story to Bhisham Mansukhani, a journalist and member of the IofC (Initiatives of Change) facilitation team. Bhisham describes it as a fascinating real life account of ‘Paying It Forward’

Capt Suri narrates,

Capt. S P S Suri
“This happened in 1979. I was attending a college in Delhi, and visiting Dehradun every week end, where I grew up. I would take the Sunday night bus to return to Delhi. In the wee hours of that fateful Monday morning, at 4 am, I rode my motorcycle home from the bus station as usual. However, as fate would have it, I fell asleep on the bike. I was told; I collided with a cyclist at high speed, and hit my face to the ground. My face was crushed. I would forever remain indebted to that unknown Sikh who braved the very unfriendly police laws then, and brought me to the hospital (All India Inst of Medical Sciences, AIMS for short) doors. Understandably, he left the scene to avoid police harassment, depriving me of expressing my gratitude ever. 

The story took yet another queer turn. The doctor on duty was shocked to see my crushed bleeding face. He couldn’t detect a pulse on me, and after examining me thoroughly he pronounced me dead! He wrote on the public discharge slip that I had expired due to brain hemorrhage and excessive bleeding. He then sent my body for a postmortem to the mortuary.

Fortunately for me, the mortuary was overcrowded due to which the supervisor on duty placed my body outside the room with other cadavers. At around 7.30 in the morning, the sweeper on shift duty saw my leg moving. He got the fright of his life and immediately informed the authorities.

In the meanwhile, my mother had already been informed of my so called demise. My sister was grieving, but my mother simply refused to believe I was dead. On reaching Delhi, instead of going to my grandparent’s house, they reached straight to the hospital, only to receive a very pleasant shock.

 However, my face had to be entirely restructured. I had to undergo comprehensive plastic surgery and it took me nearly 18 months to recover.

 I reminisce, how strange are the ways of life! One would expect learning lessons from the episodes such as what I went through, but, to be honest, I didn't in any way become more cautious than I had been before the accident. Three years later I became a pilot!”


“I moved to Mumbai in 1983 when I was posted a probationary pilot for the Indian Airlines in the city. A few months into my job, and another incident of road accident would take place involving me that would change my outlook about life forever!

 I was traveling by bus to South Mumbai to visit the doctor to show him x-rays of my facial bones which had, by then, largely recovered. I had tucked the x-ray into my shirt. As the bus was passing through Juhu, it slowed down near a truck standing halted by the side if the road. To my utter shock, I saw a young school boy getting crushed between a stationary truck and the bus in which I was seated. The bus slowed down and moved to the left at the bus stop leaving very little gap with the standing truck. The school children were rushing to get into our bus when this boy came in between the truck and the bus.

 I do not know what got possessed of me. Instantaneously I got off the bus, lifted the boy in my arms as the blood from his head wound bled on to my shirt and x-ray. I was surprised as to why no one else would help. Perhaps the unfriendly police laws about accident which had made my savior to drop me at the hospital portals and run away! Most shockingly, even the bus, which was a culprit, sped off on its course as though nothing had happened.  However, one decent young motorcyclist came forward to help. A Sikh taxi driver agreed to take us to the nearby hospital but advised us to leave the boy at the hospital and immediately rush off.

But I was undeterred. I wanted the child to get an immediate medical attention. The doctor on duty refused to attend to the unconscious bleeding child until the police arrived. I looked him in his eyes, held him by his throat, gave him my ID and literally ordered him to save the boy. The doctors gave in and did the decent thing. The boy survived. In some ways I felt extremely good. I felt, the thought of my own accident, and that unknown Sikh gave me the strength and courage to act the way I did. My status of being a pilot worked on the doctors, and perhaps the police later. But, I thought I was paying it forward!

The history repeated with the parents of the boy too. His school friends reached his home and told the parents that the boy had died. The young motorcyclist had found their address from the boy's school bag and had rushed to let them know that the boy was being treated. He brought back the smile on the grieving Kamat family.

 In the mean while, once I knew the boy would be fine, I left the hospital, pleasantly surprised to find the taxi driver waiting for me. I offered his money to wash his blood smeared seats. He refused to take the money. He drove me home and again refused the taxi fare I offered him. I only met the boy's parents four years later. The meeting was emotional and I was touched by their gratefulness. I have grown to know the boy and his parents ever since. Well, each Diwali they send me gifts.

 The boy, Ankit Kamat, around 40 now, went on to study in Baltimore, USA, and is now settled in the US. It’s been 28 years since the incident. I might never find out the identity of the Sikh gentleman who saved my life, but I believe he would have been happy to find out that it was his deed of astonishing kindness that indirectly saved a young boy's life six years later. The sweeper and the taxi driver also played their crucial roles. This was a true triumph for humanity. It will always be the most remarkable story of my life. I will never wonder about whether Ankit will someday pay it forward. I simply believe he will.”

Hope this story would have touched a chord in your hearts. If so, please express your feelings in the comments column below here. Please share if and when you have paid anything forward...

And, pass this story on to your circle of influence if you believe the story can induce compassion in others.

D I L I P  P A T E L

Team India I Care

PS: If at all this write up reaches Ankit Kamat, we will be happy to hear a word from him in the comments section of this post.




  1. A touching tale. There are still some compassionate persons in society. I have had the chance to render this kind of service twice in my life when I was posted in Vishakhapatnam. Thanks and God bless them.
    Commander Chandra Shekhar IN (Retd)

  2. May He Bless all those who have rendered this type of help, and also pray that this spirit pervades all those who have the opportunity to be on the scene when any such incident occurs, being oblivious to the the police reactions and any doctor's reluctance. This goes for me too. love and light. Prem

  3. I share this every year- in the hope that Ankit Kamat may respond