Satish C. Bhatnagar : A general question is whether you find an angel in your life or an angel finds you, or it is a scenario of some divine synchronicity. Angels, fairies and mermaids (devils and witches too) abound literature, folklore of every society. However, our perception of these entities, real or imaginary, do undergo changes since childhood to sagehood.
It was about 10:30 AM of August 11, 2017, I was at the UNLV campus, and 50 yards away from my office. It was the last day of Summer Session III, and I was to give two final exams – one at 11:20 AM and the other at 6 PM. My 13-year old grandson was there to help me in administering the morning exam. While walking in my Nike shoes, my left foot started skidding as soon as it stepped in an innocuous puddle of sprinkler water that flows over from one side of the huge paved academic mall. My right foot remained anchored on the dry area. The skidding of the left foot stopped only when it had completed a kind of half split.
During the skid, the pain was very excruciating. Throughout, I felt as if a muscle of my upper leg was was being ripped apart from within. With eyes closed, I tried to figure out the extent of this injury and my mobility, if any. Despite writhing with pain, I overheard my grandson’s concern, a math graduate student offering help, and my telling him to go and tell my students to wait for me, if I was delayed. Also, I remember telling someone not to call the 911.
I also heard someone phoning a person in the UNLV Risk Management office to come over quickly and take a work-space injury report. In my service to UNLV for over 40 years, I never heard of the benefits of workplace injuries. If this person were not there, I would have gone to an Urgent Care for the first treatment. Apart from the cost on my share of expenses, the hassle of doctors’ appointments, medication, X-rays, MRI, physical therapy sessions etc. would have drained my reserves of money and energy. I was saved from infinite trouble- speaking mathematically. Through the office of Risk Management, I quickly got all the treatments.
After a few weeks, I tracked my angel, who worked at UNLV’s construction office. I profusely thanked him, as my angel. There was nothing extraordinary about him. The looks can never tell it.The goodness or viciousness is all in the heart of a person. One particular moment may define a person as an angel or a devil. In between the two extremes, we lives as normal humans. He told me how on that fateful day when I was turning over with pain, most people were walking by me totally unconcerned of my plight. He said, he did it what a human being was supposed to do.
This reflection is prompted by a farewell party given to Tim Lockett, my angel, last week. He is leaving UNLV for a better opportunity. The noticeable feature of this party was the large number of people who came across campus to greet and wish him. It was obvious that in the digital world of shrinking sociability, Tim’s likability coefficient is very high. During all these years at UNLV, I have seen all kinds of retirement and farewell parties, this one tops them in attendance. For instance, at a dean’s retirement party, besides me, there was none for 20 minutes when I said goodbye.
Occasionally, we take upon an added role of a godfather or a godmother of someone related to us. But becoming an angel to a stranger is truly godliness, which is beyond the do-goodness. Thanks Tim for the memories!
Satish C. Bhatnagar, PhD
Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4020