Seconds between Then and Now

Updated: May 16, 2021

This is an instance from my life that made me realize the worth of my existence in a matter of seconds! What happened was unexpected and eye-opening.


By Pooja Kakde

Picture by Syed Ali / Unsplash


It was around seven in the evening. The rain had stopped roughly an hour ago. My mother and I stepped out of our home to buy some groceries and when we were done shopping (slightly tired of walking and carrying bags full of essentials); we both sat on a bench on the footpath. That bench was close to our apartment and we'd often go sit there. That evening, I was telling my mother that I have a difficult exam in school and I want to work hard for it. After I was done, my mom began telling me how worried she was about what to make for dinner that night.


While I half-listened to her, I spotted a tiny toad at the edge of the road. Instantly, I was attracted to it. Its skin glistened in the dark; it might have got washed squeaky clean under the rains. I exclaimed, ‘Mommy, look at that toad! It's so cute and so tiny!’


Mom stopped talking and noticed the creature on the road I was pointing at with my fingers. Although it was dark, he could be seen under the luminous headlights of the running vehicles.


We both went quiet and kept staring at him. He had brought a smile to our faces. As if the toad understood how charmed we were to find him all of a sudden, he refused to go elsewhere. Perhaps, he liked our attention.


What followed was a sweet, funny play – a street play I'd say, presented to us by the toad. He was leaping, running in circles, moving to and fro, right in front of our eyes.


Me and my mother were enjoying the sight – an absolute entertainment it was! I was a happy spectator, soaking in little joys of life.


The toad was dark grey, his skin was smooth, his legs felt sticky yet shining. He seemed to me as if he was smiling too – perhaps, a mischievous smile.


I was probably twelve-years-old that time and I remember how excited I got at that moment. Just watching him made me feel positive. His mere presence made me prepared for the next good thing that I could get to experience. There was a sudden connection established between us – me and the merry toad.


And while our eyes – my eyes – were still glued on him, a rickshaw came in full speed and rode over the toad.


A sudden sadness took over me along with a shock. What had just happened? Seconds ago, the toad seemed full of joy, living his moment and now, he was gone. He was dead. Full stop.


I was furious at the rickshaw driver for being so ruthless to kill a little life, but I knew somewhere at the back of my mind that he could not be held at fault. He would not have noticed the toad in such dark. It was an accident.


I held my mother's arm and squeezed my eyes shut. I felt emotional, only I did not cry.


Me and my mother walked back home and I was thinking all the while, how could a living thing vanish in seconds. What is this life? What is left of us at the end?