On the evening of the accident Ganesan was on a bus from the office in Fort, heading in the direction of the National Cancer Institute in Maharagama. The bus was making its way in starts and stops, accelerating and braking as the driver tried, ruthlessly, to overtake on the crowded roads, and Ganesan was gazing out through the half-open window, at pedestrians waiting impatiently at traffic lights and bus stops, at passengers in other vehicles staring silently into their phones or out at the monotonous evening. The light hadn’t yet begun to fade but the day was coming to its end, the city’s commuters all lost in the long, mindless journey from place of work to place of sleep, their last remaining obligation to the outside world. Ganesan squinted out at the passing street signs now and then to see whether he was nearing the hospital, but unable to decipher their wording from afar, in no great hurry to reach his destination and not especially concerned about getting off too early or too late, he soon forgot what he was looking for and let his eyes glaze over, the few sharp edges he’d managed to summon to his field of vision dissolving back into peaceful ambiguity.
Ganesan had known for several years that his eyesight was less than perfect, had been finding it harder and harder to discern house numbers and street signs as he drove around the city, but it was only a couple of months earlier, in order to get his license renewed, that he’d finally consented to having his eyes examined. He’d never visited an optometrist or an optician before, had sat uncomfortably on the stiff leather chair as the man placed a pair of heavy steel frames over his nose, as he flicked a switch and asked him to read out the series of small English letters that appeared on the lit-up screen, starting with the left eye, then the right, and finally both together. Ganesan felt sure he was confusing the names of some of the letters but the man made no comment either way, inserting a thicker pair of lenses calmly into the frames with every set of answers that came back. He went to his desk, scribbled a few notes, then turned and announced that Ganesan would have to start wearing glasses, that he was significantly shortsighted and that his tendency to squint would only worsen his vision in the long term.