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I wish to pen down (key in?) a singular event I happened to experience, something that I wouldn’t forget soon. This blog post I hope will serve to me as a refresher down the memory lane, years later.

On Alex’s advice, I decided to run hills. (In his words, “You’ll hate yourself running uphill but I know no other method to improve your running speed and stamina.”)  I biked to the top of “Mt. Salisbury” and after running it up and down, was on my way back home. On the bridge on Lindberg Rd, I saw a girl drooping, leaning across the bridge. I gave her a second glance and biked ahead wondering if it she was running and the sun dehydrated her. But who runs in their sandals? I turned back and rode toward her.

“Are you alright? Do you want some water?”

She started sobbing. (Uh oh!) She drank some water and hugged me. My turn to freak out, because it wasn’t a brisk hug but a painfully long one.

“Whatever it is, it’ll be alright.” (I offered my two pennies of  solace).

“Would you help me commit suicide? I want to jump over.”

“This won’t help, it’s too shallow” (Who commits suicide jumping in a bog? She wouldn’t even have fractured herself! But I agree, this isn’t the best reply you can give to a girl contemplating death. In my defence, I handled it good enough, overall.)

She fell on the trail and I sat next to her, wondering what action to take. I asked her which direction her home was and that we should walk that direction. She told she was drunk, a fact I deduced during the aforementioned hug. I compelled her to keep walking to her home and get some rest. On the way, we embarked on a (trivial) discussion about the existence of god and the goodness in people. She told me how other people on the trail ignored her and walked past. She was a Purdue undergrad; her life was in shambles and she had no one. (I believe the last part is false; for you need some parent / guardian who’ll fund your undergrad, especially in this country. I didn’t challenge her.)

She also mentioned she had been contemplating suicide for years and that I should help her. (Now I am of the opinion that if a person truly wants to die in spite of being counseled, the government should give them the opportunity. In India and Indiana, it’s a felony. Nonsense; but I’ll save this discussion for another day.)

Now this girl jumps over the railing and stands on the road, waiting to be hit by a car. The speed limit for that road is 30 mph, so again an ineffective way to kill oneself. Again I sprung into action and made her jump to the other side. At this time, she collapsed in the grass. I felt it the perfect moment to call 911. She rose up and tried to snatch my cellphone but I overpowered her. Sensing trouble, she ran away in the direction of her home. I gave her description to the authorities and no sooner than I traveled some 100m than I saw a Sheriff car (without sirens, interestingly!) turn towards the apartment complex. They caught her as soon as she was about to enter the house and interrogated her. My role ended with me narrating the cops this incident and giving my identity.


Tailpiece: Do you think we have free will? Was it my own free will that made me turn around and help (?) the girl out? Or was I programmed? My life would have been a bit different had I chosen to ignore and bike past her.

Assume for the moment that we do have free will. Was I right in doing what I did? For all I know, this suicide attempt stays on her “file” possibly throughout her life. Perhaps she was suffering with a terminal disease and death was her best option. Even then, I think I acted wisely. I think I can justify my actions. What do you say?

(You might have read about my running the first \pi miles. This is a rather different experience).
(Edit: 6 July, ’12 — If you have fractured a jaw and are looking for a liquid diet, see this post I wrote recently).

Today evening I completed running \pi miles on the Wabash river trail. I have done it more than a hundred times in the last few months. But today was special. Completing the track was a liberating moment. For one, I completed it with less-than-usual oxygen; I breathed only through my nose and not once through the mouth.

As I write this, I feel the steel wires and rubber-bands in my mouth. My teeth are fixed, the jaws are immovable and there are six stitches on the chin. I can feel one molar chipped off and one week after the accident, I feel pain in my wrist.

It was on the evening of 26th May that the four of us set out for biking. We were around 10 miles from Purdue where I had this accident. It was a reckless daredevilry, something that I am not proud of & something I wouldn’t like to recollect¹. After the accident, we called a friend and also 911 (the latter came before) and I was taken to the Emergency room of the hospital². I had the X-ray and CT-scan done but already knew my jaw was fractured. The doctor stitched the chin-injury and discharged me with the desperately-needed painkillers. Three days later, I had a surgery with an oral surgeon who (after knocking me unconscious) implanted steel braces and rubber-bands in my mouth thus completely immobilizing any jaw movement. For six weeks, I shall not be able to open my mouth. No coughing or yawning please! And only liquid diet.


I realize that the pain-killers have subdued any painful sensation in my jaws. Most of me is perfectly fine, most importantly my brain. And I am doing Mathematics with acetaminophen. Just like Erdös!³ Hope I am able to come up with some theorem in these six weeks!

¹ In my defence, I blame the reversed role of left/right brakes controlling left/right cycle tyres in the America than India.
² In retrospect, although spilling out blood from my mouth, I was surprisingly relaxed. Rather, one of the friends had a panic attack seeing me spew blood!
³ If you are unaware, the legendary mathematician Paul Erdös took amphetamines and said the drug helped him do mathematics. Read his biography here.

About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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