It was summer and half of the Paata village was already empty of its male inhabitants. The war was on and almost every men was called upfront by the Gorkha Regiment. Vishambar the postman was one of the few men left in the village along with some of the retired folks. In the hills, mostly the men either get enrolled into Army or they move to the big cities to earn some livelihood. It was high time as Pakistan had infiltrated into Indian villages in Kashmir. Vishambar on his radio had recently heard that there might be a nuclear war between the two nations. Being a high school graduate, he did not know much about the gravity of the situation, but the way the news reader told the news, he could sense that it was something really big. But nothing of any sort mattered to him- people killing each other, men assaulting women, kids indulged in tobacco intakes or nations bombing each other. He was aloof from all this nuisance, or one can say he never bothered to care about such things. That’s one of the many reasons why he never got married. He was an orphan, brought up by his uncle. His uncle was the one who persuaded him to go to school and become something useful. He told him about the opportunities that lay ahead in future and what a boon it would be to be a literate. Even now he could never thank him enough for his advice. Even with his meagre job, he was content with it. He preferred to be a mail man sitting mostly in a government provided hut rather than either getting killed on the border or working in the stepped fields.
Vishambar in his youth worked in a hotel in the capital. He had seen the city life enough to get sickened of it. He never liked it there. Though his lifestyle was really influenced with whatever time he had spent in the city. When he got the job of a postman, he brought his radio along with him which he really enjoyed listening to. He even took a lot of pain in bringing his cycle with him to the village with the help of a local matador; though he later realized that it was of no use there in the hills. Now he just used the cycle when someone parceled something really big from the city, which had as bleak possibility of happening as snowing in June. He had a maid who did all the small chores for him which included preparing meal two times a day. His salary was well enough for him to have such luxuries. Reshma, his maid, was a local villager whose husband had died as a martyr on the border. To meet some ends and earn something to run her family, she worked errands in Vishambar’s little hut. In his 24 years of posting here in Paata, Reshma was there helping him for a decade now. For him she was like a little sister and that’s exactly how he treated her. He often lend her some money for courtesy. And she in return gave him pulses, onions and other things which she grew in her fields, which Vishambar usually send to his Uncle’s house.
Usually he just sat and did nothing because anyone hardly posted anything. Almost all the village people were illiterate and seldom would anyone go and ask Vishambar to write a letter to any relative. Mostly the newly wedded brides used to come to Vishambar to write a response to a letter from their husbands who were mostly posted at the border. And most of the times Vishambar only was the one reading them. The effect of matrimony takes its time to diminish itself from someone’s mind. The desire to hear a word or two from their husbands was what they all craved for. Whenever they passed through Vishambar’s hut, they always inquired if there was any mail.
But with war on head, the frequency of mails increased. After a long long time Vishambar had finally realized how nerve-wrenching his work was. He received two or three dozens of mails on a weekly basis now which were forwarded to him through headquarters in the capital. And distributing those mails was not the only thing he had to; he had to read them as well. And if felt necessary, he often had to sit in people’s porch to write the response and later post them. It became really difficult for him to do so much so sudden. He would’ve happily done all this if he were in his twenties or thirties. But it really was a tiring job for a person of his age, as he had to move up and down from house to house to give the mail and then read them as well. The best part though about all this was that he often received sweets and food items for bringing those mails. The villagers loved him and his work. After all he was like a messenger of God for them and Vishambar too liked this thought very much. Though bringing a sad news of someone’s death made him real sad as well. He couldn’t bear to see the newly wedded girls crying and their mothers often fainting and falling down. Seeing that Vishambar used to think that how unusual his job was. For some he was a little oasis in a desert whereas for some he was a sign of death. They all showed no sign of happiness or sadness on their faces until Vishambar start reading their letters. For them it was the day of judgement.
After finishing almost every household and sharing their mails with them, Vishambar used end his part of the job by visiting the last house which was situated at the end of the valley. There lived an old woman named Bachaspati Devi. She was in her eighties and anyone seeing her could tell that she was on the verge of leaving this planet for good. She had only one person alive as her kin, her grandson named Vijay. Her son and the daughter in law, both died a long long time ago in an accident. She was the one who brought up Vijay and made him what he was today. She was strictly against her grandson’s decision to enlist in the army as he was the only one left in the family, but who could change the mind of a hill-born adamant young kid who has decided to serve his country. Vijay often wrote letters to his grandmother and as usual Vishambar read them to her. She would grab Vishambar’s hand tightly as soon as he start to read. She used to be so happy to hear that letter that quite often she would ask Vishambar to read it twice or thrice. Vishambar never denied the old lady’s requests. He could understand the pain and feeling’s of that woman’s dreaded soul captured inside those little shackles of bones. Every week on Sundays when mails reached to Vishambar, this old lady would sit in her porch since afternoon and wait till the dusk when he finally reached her house. He often used to dine that particular day in old lady’s house. He would ask Reshma not to cook on Sunday nights.
It was the third weekend of the month of June and Vishambar’s pouch was yet again full with letters. Keeping his daily preparations short and having a very light breakfast, he commenced his journey from the first house on his way. On the judgment day, Vishambar hardly ate anything before leaving, he used to get a lot to eat in almost every house. So whole day after distributing and reading all the letters, Vishambar finally reached the old lady’s house. Every time she used to wait for him anxiously. Vishambar sat on the charpoy which was there in the porch and took out the last letter of the day from his pouch- sent by Vijay Singh. It was all usual for him as he tore the corner of the envelope and pulled out a white sheet. But this letter was somewhat unusual… he could sense that it was one of the unwanted ones, the one which made people to lose hope in their lives. As Vishamber unfolded it, he saw that it was typewritten instead of the usual handwritten; and Vishambar understood the rest of the story. It was such a sad moment. The old lady was sitting anxiously in front of him and waiting for him to speak and he thinking in his mind that in what way could he tell this woman this tormenting news, so that she wouldn’t just die listening to it. Vishambar couldn’t think of any way to do that without hurting her. He just couldn’t bear the fact of sharing something like that to this poor soul. She had no one except her grandson, who too was now deceased. He was in a really awkward situation and there was silence in the air for a long time, which was finally broken by the old lady.
She grasped his hand as she usually did and said- “Aren’t you able to understand what he has written?”
To that Vishambar gave the hardest fake smile he had ever given to anyone and said- “No amma, writing is ok, I am just reading it myself first.”
To which she said-“Just read it out loud, I will listen as well.”
By now Vishambar had made up his mind that he couldn’t dare tell her the truth that her only grandson is no more on this world. He wasn’t too weak to speak that but was too weak to see the old lady remorse and give up on her life. So he decided to make up words of his own and speak to her in the way Vijay usually wrote. And he read the whole letter framing words of his own. Lying to a kid is real easy, lying to a man is even easier than that but lying to a woman takes up a lot of convincing. But even their hearts melt in ignorance if it’s either about their lover or their loved ones. So the old lady as anxiously as she used to, heard those precise words coming out of Vishambar’s holy mouth. To his surprise she didn’t ask him to repeat it that day and then like always she started cleaning the corner where Vishambar usually sat to have his dinner. But Vishambar said he wasn’t hungry today and might have some complications with his stomach. He wanted to get out of the site of that pious woman. He wasn’t that much religious of a person but he was scared of the fact of lying to that old woman and was completely filled with anxiety that he was surely going to the hell made for people like him. The old woman tried to make him stay at her hut only and asked him to let her help, but he insisted on going back to his place. With long strides down the valley, and heart pumping in the very unusual way he reached his hut at around ten o’ clock. He straight away washed his face which was pale red by now. He emptied the pitcher of water in one go to calm himself and then he lay down on the mat beside his working table . He wanted to surrender himself to the goddess of sleep as soon as he could and wanted to forget all that had happened in the delusion of dreams.
It was a new day and Vishambar got up bit late from his usual schedule. Usually this day was his real weekend as on Sundays he worked whole day. He still had a faint glimmer of the deed he did last night in his mind. All day he tried to convince himself to believe in what he did was humanly the best thing he could do. If he had told the old lady the truth, her soul would have left her body by now. Moreover he thought that she was going to live just few months more and keeping in mind how long the last war lasted, he thought he made a good decision not to tell her. With this notion in his mind he felt little relieved. He now made himself clear that his intentions weren’t wrong and he did a great deed. Vishambar now prepared a letter of his own for the old lady every week. He often added some stuff which he believed would make her happy. And she really did like it. She rejoiced at the fact that her grandson is fighting gallantly in the war. Vishambar was really happy too of his decision. And this went on for few more weeks till the war ended.This time Pakistani army retreated back within 2 months of a fight. The Kargil was back in our control again.
But this win was more of a nightmare for Vishambar coz he realized that when the men will come back from the border and the old lady will see them coming, she would ask questions about her grandson’s whereabouts. It was time for Vishamber to tell her the harsh truth… even though she would be really heartbroken to hear that. So he wrote a last letter, the way the government usually send those for the martyrs. And he then went straight to the old lady’s house, there were no letters for anyone else that day as almost every man had reached back or were on their way back to home. As he approached the old lady’s house, he saw her coming out; she had a little rosy smile on her face, perhaps she had heard from the local folks that the war was over and the troops were coming back. The smile broke Vishamber’s heart; he was already feeling remorseful from inside for what he was about to do. As he reached her porch, he sat down in the charpoy. The old lady was busy washing some clothes which belonged to some man. She was probably cleaning the old clothes of her grandson. As soon as she saw him, she stood up and washed her hands and greeted him. He could see the excitement in her eyes, the energy which was running inside her.
She asked- “Vishamber ji! How come are you here today and that too at this time? Aren’t you busy distributing mails?”
Vishambar said- “I just received one mail today and it was for you Bachaspati ji.” And then he pulled out a mail from his pouch. As he was just about to read the letter, the old lady stopped him.
She said- “Vishambar ji, you must be tired of doing all this on your own, reading everyone’s letters. Let my grandson do it today. Even I wanna hear him speak after so long.”
And then say said out loud- “Vijay! Can you come out a bit beta?”
A tall handsome man with a fair complexion came out from the other room. Vishambar was shocked to see him. He couldn’t believe that it was the same guy who was mentioned as deceased in one of the letters few weeks back. He came directly towards him and touched his feet as he greeted him. Just then Bachaspati pulled out a Khaki out of the tub and gave a hard stroke at it and then put it on the wire to let it dry. And on that Khaki was a name written in a badge in bold letters- Vijay H. Singh.
The old lady said- “Vijay, take a look at the letter Vishambar ji just brought and read it out loud.”
And just then Vishambar stood up as soon as he could and said goodbye to the two and started walking back to his hut.
Vijay said to his grandmother- “Dadi ji what just happened? Why did he just go away like that without even showing us our letter?”
His grandma replied- “Maybe he brought an old one with him. Well he is getting old as well kid. We old ones often act crazy my dear.”
Came here after a long time,
Finally got free from mine self built cage of sustainability,
How could I let me be fooled and get trapped?
Trapped around those ghastly towers of concrete!
Was I in too much doubt about my own creator?
That I questioned my own old ways of survival.
And leaving behind the calm and serene abode,
I surrendered myself to be imprisoned in the dungeon
Anyways I have come back now,
To my very own origin.
The place from where I commenced,
My voyage that would lead me to my own doom.
I am sure she would take me back with a smile
Heart of a mother is always ready to forgive
So chaste and pure
Like a divine and heavenly soul
But what do I see here!
What happened to my Mother Nature?
What did you do to her my siblings?
Why is she so gloomy and withered?
Why is that grass so pale which used to be so green?
This place looks like a desert as if greenery has never been.
And what happened to the sky which used to be so blue?
Now looking at me face down as if he’s ashamed of losing his hue.
Where’s that gusty breeze?
The warm breath of my Mother,
Where’s that ravishing rivulet in the woods?
Which used to flow through her bosom to feed me.
What have you done to her fledglings,
The wonderful oaks, pines and spruce.
Why like a unruly tyrant my sibs,
You cut off their head for some wright’s use.
Where are those red roses that used to shine so bright,
Like a princess drying her locks in the deck at sunlight.
What happened to the daisies and the tulips too,
Who once filled our gardens and now left so few!
Where are all the moths and the mighty monarch,
Those unanimous kings of wings…in air who used to march.
And where are all those sparrows and the miry magpies,
In our veranda all day who used to roam and lie.
No doubt my brothers you can always boast,
That how you turned a divine hamlet into a town of ghosts,
That for the path of development that we laid,
Slaughtering our own nest was the price that we paid.
What will you tell to the ones who are yet to take birth,
That places so bright in old pictures now seem to be in dearth.
What will you say when they’ll ask- What have you done?
Where’s the fiery ball of fire that you used to call as Sun?
Smog will be covering whole sky even at noon,
Though it won’t be dark, but you would still see a moon.
Would you be able to point their little finger so light,
At the moonlike sun which will appear to be white.
Colours are not just crayons used to show a child’s imagination,
They depict the life around us, things we see through our vision.
Meddling with nature’s ways has never gone great,
Life without colours, is like palm with no line of fate.
Let’s bring an end to this devastation we have done,
Bring back those mystique tints to our mother, and be a good son.
We have done enough for ourselves and now it’s time that we commence,
Take a true step forward to enrich lives of our descendants, not just pretend.
(So that was today’s assignment… Hope I did justice. The Commons)
edited with the help of- Priyanka Chandak
It was almost the time for harvest in Bhogpur village. Retired Subedar Purshottam was sitting with his Hukkah in the porch of his old house. With each puff of smoke from his pot, he was taking away a second off his life. He didn’t even care about his life anymore because he had no reason to. He had seen enough of it. Enough of his kids who didn’t want to take care of him anymore; who couldn’t even have a small corner in their big bungalows in the city for him. Enough of this brutal world where money is all people run after. He often used to sit and think about the time he was in army and what a gallant life he had there. The hero’s welcome he used to get when he used to come back home from the border. He gave 40 years of his seven decades life to that profession. He liked nothing more than his life in the army. But he always felt that whatever he did there was of no importance to the ‘bloody civilians’. The villagers or any other person just can never understand what sacrifices that a soldier makes for his country. Sure he became grumpy because of all this, because he always felt that he deserved more than what he received, at least a little respect and care from his own kin. But with time he had realized the ugly truth- the road to one’s end is meant to be walked alone. The only soul he cared for his entire life passed away last winter. But the more sad part was that no one from his family showed up for the cremation. Lakshmi was like an integral part of his life. Though he was no different in behavior to her, but she knew all his traits. She was the only one who could bring a little calm to the turmoil inside him. But with her gone, he lost his soul and was now just waiting on his old coir to leave this planet for good.
He had a little farm which he had to look after himself. There weren’t many folks around as almost everyone had shifted to the city, so he had to do almost everything by himself. After a long and rough season the paddy was finally up, smiling bright at the sun. In a week or two, the harvest was due. Sometimes Purshottam used to think that how weird this life was- first we sow and grow something till it becomes fully grown and then we cut it down just like that. He could see the similarity of this peculiar lifestyle with his own- growing into something useful and when he was no good for anyone, he was cut off from this world. Now he could see that why this planet is called as the Land of Mortals. With another puff he took a little sigh. Just then he heard a little rattling sound coming from his fields. He thought the rabbits were back again, so he threw a stone from the pile he had kept beside his chair. But to his surprise it didn’t stop the sound. So he got up to take a better look at the unwanted guest. All he could guess was that it was larger than a rabbit but smaller than an Elephant. It had some reddish hue. Purshottam could hardly see what it really was with his naked eyes. So he went inside to get his spectacles and along with that he brought a long bamboo stick as well. Cutting through the paddy carefully he charged towards the place from where that sound was coming. As he drew closer, he saw a little disturbance in the field. That little creature in the field got a little sense of the incoming human with a long pointed weapon attached to one of the limbs. It got the feeling that its trespassing scheme has been compromised, so it started taking careful steps towards the opposite side of Purshottam’s advances. It moved and moved at similar pace at which Purshottam was cruising in. Few minutes later when it saw Purshottam coming closer to itself, it started running and soon it was out in the open- a calf with reddish hue.
It was more like a fully grown up cow but smaller, yet big enough that it couldn’t be called as a calf. It was more like in its adolescent age. Purshottam was really furious to see that a part of his hard work was devoured by this little red beast. So he ran right towards it, in full rage, to bring an end to it’s life. But the calf wasn’t new to these chases, it kept its safe distance all the time. As soon as Purshottam took a leap, the calf increased it’s own pace. Whenever Purshottam took a little time for taking breath, the calf used to stop and eat the small grass-lings on the ground as if it were mocking at him. It made this chase look like a game. Purshottam after gaining some energy again started shooing the calf away from his fields as far as he could. He knew that in no way he could catch it in this lifetime. It was growing pretty dark outside and dusk was about to take a turn into night. Purshottam thinking that he had shooed the calf far enough, threw some stones at it to make it go little further. And when it was far away from his sight, he retreated back towards his old hut.
It was really hard for a person of his age to do something like that. He wasn’t young enough to do such chases. He was really tired of all the chase he had done that day. But none of the few ones left in the village were going to help him, so it was all his work to do. He reached back to his old house and sat on the old charpoy. He was really tired and didn’t have any strength to prepare a meal for himself. So he ate a few guavas that he had plucked from the tree in his backyard. Few of them were enough to fill his flaccid tummy. And few drops of water from the pitcher at the end finished the dinner part of his day. Turning off the switch of the bulb, he then lay down on the charpoy to call the night off. Nothing on Earth was so soothing than taking rest upon the ropes of that charpoy.
He could still recall the day when he had bought that charpoy in Dilli for 10Rs and how happy his wife and kids were to see him bring that home. He could still recall that day very distinctly. For few days kids just used to jump on it’s little strings and Lakshmi used to shout at that them not to make the strings loose. A tear dropped from his eyes while he thought about it. He would give up everything to see that moment again; but alas, this life doesn’t work that way! Soon those tears collectively formed a wall in front of his eyes. He cleared them of with his gamcha and closed the lids.
Next morning Purshottam woke up later than his normal routine. He had a really good sleep after a long long time. But waking up this late was against his defense time norms. He could see himself getting old. He could feel the change in himself. Nevertheless he got up and did what he used to do everyday. He took a bath, washed his dirty clothes, prepared few chapatis and sabzi which would last enough for the lunch. Everyday he used to make enough for himself to last till lunch. Then he cleaned up his varandah and watered the plants. Everyday the Tulsi tree was the first one he used to serve; it was planted by Lakshmi when she first came to his house after their wedding. Though everyday she used to water it through the holy pitcher of their little temple while chanting mantras… but Purshottam wasn’t such a religious man. He was more of an atheist or rather agnostic, yet in Lakshmi’s presence he never questioned her faith and would politely accompany her in all her religious tasks. But with her being gone now, he would deliberately make efforts to annoy God in the hope that it might cut his life short. Yet, at times he would ponder, that maybe, letting him live was the greatest punishment for him. This fear often provoked him to water the Tulsi plant daily. And after all the other daily chores, Purshottam again filled his Hukkah with new burning coal and then he sat on his coir to gaurd the fields. And with a long sigh he took the first puff of the day.
He had hardly taken few patches of the tobacco when he heard a familiar rustle again from a corner of his paddy field. Looking closely he saw a reddish hue again- the calf was back. Clenching his wrists in rage he got up from his chair and grabbed the bamboo. He started the day’s campaign with large pebbles. The first one he threw hit the calf just at the center of its tummy. The calf didn’t see that coming and with little vibration of surprise in it’s red skin, it started running towards the woods. Purshottam felt little joy with his aimed shot hitting it’s target. He took another aim, throwing the pebble with as much power as he could. Though this time the calf had it’s laugh, the pebble passed between it’s hind legs. This time calf started running towards the upper steep path of the mountain valley. It was pretty young so it was not difficult for it to climb it. Whereas Purshottam on other hand was having a hard time in chasing the calf. It was becoming really hard for him to breath. He was taking frequent stops now. But enough was enough as Purshottam had promised to himself that he would bring an end to this chase today. He started taking smaller breaths. That way he gained some energy and he finally stood up. The calf was still there at top, peeking at him like as if playing hide and seek.
Purshottam started taking small small steps towards it. The calf seeing him advancing, started running again. Few moments later they both reached the top. It was plain there above though covered with Pine trees. Purshottam knew that he was very near to the Thano village. He thought that if he is able to make this calf go towards that village, maybe then it won’t come back again as there were greener fields to feed upon or maybe any villager will end up catching it. So Purshottam kept on trailing the calf as far as he could. After sometime he saw some white fences. He knew it was someone’s ranch or a farm. Purshottam threw few stones at it and made it run as far as he could. The calf passed two broad fields and after few minutes it was really hard to spot it. Purshottam was assured that finally it was the end of his chase. So he headed back to his house. It was a long way back; he took the shortest path he could. On returning back to his house, he drank whole pitcher of water first and then sat on his chair to take some rest. Rest of his long day passed in throwing stones at parrots and rabbits. He ate the chapaties with sabzi which he had prepared for lunch. With a day long chase he didn’t get time to eat them in afternoon. And drinking a full pitcher of water his another day ended. Like everyday he then lay down in his charpoy, remembering another old instance from his past and just like that he slept.
It was a new day and he wanted nothing new like the past two days to occur again. But he was pretty much sure that the calf wasn’t coming back again. Again like everyday he did what he used to do in his routine and finally sat down in his chair to keep a watch over his near to be harvested crop. It was a calm sunny day and not much of rodents or birds were there to make him move his muscle. Just like that a thought came to his mind that what might would have happened to that calf? What would it be doing right now? Was it caught by a villager or is it still feeding someone else’s field? And many other thoughts rolled in his curious mind. Almost whole day passed and he saw no sign of any rabbit or bird or a calf. He just sat there wondering what might would had happened to it. A sudden urge grew inside him to see that calf again. After a long long time he had been busy with something off his daily boring routine. He missed the red beast. For him the calf became like a little companion- a known acquaintance. Chasing it was something of a meaning to him now, it gave him a new reason to live. But alas, he drove it away! That little thought made him sad. He broke his only rope of hope.
He just stared at that little corner if it has come back. As dusk grew up on the day’s end, his watch also came close to an end. Feeling grim about his loss, Purshottam got up and headed back towards his hut to prepare something to eat. Inside his hut he made a dough out of the flour. He lit the chullah and put the tawa over the scintillating flames. He saw the tawa getting heated up. He took a piece of dough and made it like a little dumpling. Then he rolled it plane with a belan and then took it in between his hands to put it over the tawa. Just when he was about to do that, he heard an old familiar rustle coming from his paddy field through his window. A little smile grew in his face and with a breath of satisfaction he put the chapati over the tawa.
Quite often while traveling from one place to another interesting things happen with you. Well this article is not about that interesting part but rather just explaining what can actually happen around you when you travel.
So here I was going back home after 3 months. My exams had finished just two weeks back. Okay cutting all the crap about why I was still in Delhi for two more weeks… just come to the part where I prepared my bag and all and was about to leave. I got about millions of calls from my parents back at home…telling me same thing again and again that what to do and what not to(you all know how parents are). So moving on… It was 9PM and pretty cool outside as it rained that day. I had chosen to go at night coz it was summer time and same day in afternoon I heard that 2300 people had died by now due to heat wave in India. So naturally as I wanted to live more in this awesome world… I thought to leave at night…coz I knew my fluffy body won’t survive the heat outside.
So I left at 9 and reached Kashmere Gate by 10.30. Now one thing that always bothers me is this name. It is spelled as Kashmere Gate…though we all know it is Kashmiri! Right? Even my spell checker in my PC right now is indicating that it is wrong and has marking it red. I guess Kashimiri people were highly offended by that so they asked to change it…well after all everyone want there own privacy… Right?
So moving on… I came out the metro and tried to find a normal bus. Well to be honest, with my attire and all many Volvo guys get excited to see me every time like hey- “that’s our Chicken to devour tonight”. Well I feel so good about the honor they give me…but it feels really sad too coz I have to deny them all. I can’t afford 600 bucks to reach Haridwar you see. In fact with 600 Rs I could go back and forth and come back again. Well so finally after 10 or 15 minutes of searching I found a normal bus- with “Dulari” written on the top. Well looking at that bus I could bet that it wasn’t treated as per her name. So anyways, as I entered into Dulari… everyone started staring at me. Well here’s a thing, it’s like a ritual in normal buses that as soon as someone new enters…everyone wanna have a look that how this new one looks like and where will this one sit. Well truth is…in case of men, most young guys are waiting for a beautiful lady to enter…which is actually very rare to happen…but come on…we are guys…we never loose hope. And I have no idea how young girl’s think in this case…coz trust me I’ve rarely seen any girl traveling alone in a normal bus. They feel rather more safe in the Volvo.
The rest of the passengers just try to check who is the newcomer who’s gonna sit beside them…coz you know what…it is kinda important to know that. Many a times the person turns out to be a trickster…one who befriends you and all and then making you smell something…gets you unconscious and rest you can imagine what he does. Hey don’t imagine any sexual thing…I mean he takes your stuff and all… I am pretty sure thieves in India are that much sincere that they focus in just their work. You know what… here’s a thought, I think that there should be reservation for thieves as well…after all they could be such great workers. Right? Well when government can give reservation to almost anyone then what’s wrong with thieves? Okay jokes apart. Moving on….
So I took a seat beside a quite old looking man. He was a typical Garhwali. I could easily tell that by just one glimpse at him. It was a three seater and he was the only one sitting on it…obviously covering the window. Here’s a fun fact, no matter how old we get we all want the window seat. Just accept that this craving for window seat never goes away in anyone. No matter in what kinda vehicle you are and what your age is…everyone wants window seat. So anyways… I searched whole bus for a window seat(lol…well I am no different) and when I found that all are already taken so I went to that available three seater. I had headphones on my ears…so just lowering lil voice I asked- “are these seats taken?” He said something without looking towards me which I was unable to hear at first so I asked him again. Now this time he had a good look at me and trust me when I say this- the only thing which that man would had thought was good in me would be my “Wildcraft” bag that I was carrying. His face was like as if he was literally disgusted to see me. Well call it generation gap or what but this is actually a fact that middle aged people or old one’s from my state UK(sounds better than Uttarakhand right) are so so disgusted to see anyone walking with headphones on. And I’ve no idea why are they all like that. For example my father himself is so bugged with these little innovative devices that he rather prefers calling them “Feeders” instead of headphones, coz according to him these just feed music inside our ears. Well he is right to very extent…but why does he hate them, that I’ve no idea. I never asked him why…coz I seriously don’t wanna have long heated discussion with him about this.
So where were we…Yeah…so after telling me clearly by shaking his head pretty well in negation that- “khaali hai beta…baith jao!”, I took the other corner. So I finally got a good seat. Now I had to make sure that this man was safe…coz you know, my parents had told me very precisely to keep a check on that. Well here’s the thing- you can’t just start taking interview of any stranger sitting beside you…right? Well it would be so great if someone could explain this to everyone’s parents. So the thing is…one has to judge it just by observing the man’s face. Well my guy was already pissed off by me…and all the time his face was towards his beloved window…so I thought- okay..he doesn’t seems like a guy who would abduct me…and so I was happily settled. So as a confirmation call… I called home and told that their consignment is safe and will reach to them by morning…please be ready to receive it or it might get stolen.
So after all this I just had to wait to reach my destination…which was about 7 hrs away. So I just laid down with Ed Sheeran feeding his amazing lyrics inside my ears through the “feeders”. Well bus had just started when the guy on the other side, in the two seater, shook my hand. I was kinda surprised. Well anyone would…after all that’s not something that happens every time that I travel.
So I asked with a surprised look- Yes?
He said- can you sit here with me?
And I was like- Han? Why?
Then in quick moment I thought about it that why would he be asking me to do that? Well the conclusion I came into was that he too was pretty scared of those thieves and all and wanted someone safe as a seat partner. Well he had a HTC M8 with him, and just by that I made the decision that he seems to be safe and also the man beside me was pissed off by me anyway….so I went in the two seater.
Well it was pretty alright to sit with him till things started to get bit odd. Just few seconds later he started asking that where I was heading to? Umm I said okay this one is one of those who likes to talk….so I told him Haridwar. In response I asked same and be replied same. Then he took out a handkerchief…a pretty big one. Well I was bit scared by that…many thoughts started coming to my mind in a flash-
Is he a trickster? And how would he make me unconscious now? What way will he choose? Will he offer me a poisoned Apple? But then I thought- ‘Apple season is already over’…and even in market if there is Apple available…it would be pretty expensive…why would he waste his money in Apples when he could do pretty well with just a biscuit! But I had made sure in my mind that no matter what biscuit he offers me… I would strictly say NO to that(though I knew I would never say no to OREOs…well who can say no to Oreos right?).
Well after thinking a lot about this and listening to 8 more tracks which I had no idea were still playing on my mobile… I was kinda sad that this guy did nothing. Well after all I was prepared to say NO to his biscuits.
So anyways my journey continued. I was strictly asked by my elder brother not to take nap. He said that I was alone and it can be risky. Well you know what…even though if I had tried to sleep… I wouldn’t have succeeded. And you know why? Coz a stupid idiot was playing a stupid bollywood track somewhere around me. And though I am not that fond of raunchy new bollywood songs…but I knew quite a few good ones…. but trust me, this guy was playing something that I had no idea about. This always happens. Every freaking time when you travel anywhere…there is always someone who is playing an unknown song on his mobile which has speakers like we have in parties. And that’s not all…here’s an interesting fact…every time in such cases when there is a guy playing an unknown song…there have to be another one who plays his own song on his own mobile…and that too in even louder tone. It becomes like a mobile song competition. What actually was more torturing for me was that the guy who was giving this other guy competition was none other than my seat-mate. And guess what…he wasn’t using his M8 for this…he had pulled out a Chinese set…as a secret weapon from somewhere…as if he had brought this just for this case only. And thus…all my dreams about dreaming Ema Watson on my way back to home got shattered by this. Well I guess that date will never happen again…thanks those two a-holes.
Well after a while when they both felt little sleepy…there was a bit silence for sometime. Well I thought lets give Avril Lavigne a chance to date me in my dream…maybe it could lead into something. So I closed my eyes again with her song on… I tried to set up the mood. After few beautiful seconds, just when in her song she said- Hey Hey Hey, I wanna be your girlfriend… I started hearing Hanuman Chalisa! Well to be honest I am a big fan of our own beloved superhero and his stories but when you’re on a dreamy date with Avril Lavigne…everything else seems to be useless. Well guess what…it was my seat-mate’s ringtone. He picked it up and it turned out to be his mother.
Well here’s a quick question…I know how mothers are and how much they care about their children but whose mother in this world gets up at night at 3AM to check up on her kid? Well everyone’s mother is like that…I was just kidding…but the point is…just focus here…the point is that my this date got screwed as well.
So after 30 minutes of “yeah maa I ate on time”…”yeah I am sitting at right place” and all other such stuff he finally stopped talking. By then we had reached Roorkee.
It was about 3:30 in the morning and it was pretty cold and dark outside. The bus had taken a halt in the bus stop of Roorkee…coz it was like a mandatory stop for it. And just when I thought this night can’t go worse a vendor entered the bus. I was pretty surprised to see a vendor at this time of the day…or rather call it night. He entered and started speaking in the best way he can…like actors do in TV advertisements. He was selling an important device actually…no I am not kidding…he was selling mobile chargers which run from Solar power. It was like a powerbank. And guess what…it had almost all kinds of ports…from Nokia’s old ones to new…from Samsung to HTC. Well I thought of having little fun…so I took my Apple iPod out(well little bragging is no harm right…not just iPod…but Apple iPod). So I asked him that can you charge this? Well guess what…he didn’t have any port like that. I am sure from inside he was feeling bit embarrassed…after all I had very unique device…haha. So with that hiatus our vehicle finally left Roorkee.
Well rest of my journey till Haridwar was pretty normal or rather say boring….like those Indian daily soaps in which a bahu’s “Nahiii” has to be shown thrice to make the show 30 min long.
So by 4:15 almost I reached Haridwar. It was pretty unexpected as normally I reach by 5 or 5:30. Well this bus was going to Rishikesh, so I had to get out of this one and take another one towards Dehradun which would take me to my destination – Bhaniyawala.
So almost half an hour passed and no sign of any bus towards Dehradun. Well in fact I actually found one going to Doon. Well when I entered it…I gave him 50₹ note… coz normally it takes about less than 50₹ to reach to my destination- Bhaniyawala. Well after a nice laugh and good one minute argument I found out that I had entered into a Hi-Tech AC bus…aka Volvo. Well so I had to come out of that. Just after checking whole bus stop again and with no luck, I headed towards a local tea stall.
There were many buses standing there. Now just try to imagine how many offers I would have got to go to Delhi, Kotdwar, Shimla, Chandigarh…but damn it…not a single one for Doon. Well I wanted to visit Shimla for sure but couldn’t had just left just like that right…when my parents were already eagerly waiting for their consignment. So there I was in front of the tea stall. I was pretty hungry by that time…so neglecting the usual Samosas and Cream Rolls…my eye’s attention went towards Fruitcake. Let me tell you, I am really fond of fruitcake. But when I picked it up and had a look at it, I lost my whole appetite. On top of that cake was written- Meenakshi Fruitcake. Well I’ve no idea who Meenakshi was but just the idea that they were Meenakshi’s fruitcakes was very odd for me. Well obviously she must be searching for her fruitcakes somewhere and here they were…being served in public. Well to be honest that wasn’t the reason for my lost appetite. It were the houseflies that were hovering around the stall.
So anyways…just then around 5 I heard Dehradun…Dehradun! Oh…that was such a relief. I just ran towards that voice and entered in it to get a window seat before anyone else does. Well at that moment of time a good seat was easily available…that too- a window seat. The conductor took 40₹ and I was off on my way back to home. Well just when I thought everything is normal(boring) again…yet another unusual thing happened. So what happened was…when the bus actually left the Haridwar bus station, conductor counted the number of passengers that should be on board according to the number of tickets. Turns out there was one of the passenger who bought a ticket till Haridwar but didn’t deboard there. So the conductor called out- is there anyone who was supposed to get off at Haridwar? No one replied. He asked again….again no response. Well he became furious now. Well see in Delhi…only people who are concerned about tickets and all are the Ticket Checker team. Conductor in Delhi hardly ever checks anyone’s ticket. But here in UK(oh I love saying UK)…its like a big deal…they have to make sure that everyone bought a ticket…coz after all…out of that money only, they buy their daily dose of half sized desi botal(precisely called in Hindi as botal and not bottle…even though both are exactly same). So now he started checking out tickets of each and every passenger. Well after little search…it turned out that one sleeping Panditji were the one who had to get down at Haridwar and he was so deep into his sleep that he didn’t even realize that bus stopped in Haridwar. Well so he was taken off of the bus and thus the bus moved on.
Just after 10 minutes there was a halt in Motichoor region; a train was passing by. Well in this route from Delhi to Doon this is the only railway crossing. So there we were standing-by for the train to pass and down at my window pane someone knocked. Well I saw down and saw a little kid asking me to buy a garland made of chrysanthemum. Well the thing is that these kids and their families earn their livelihood by these ways. For them these trains are like the only method to earn something. Some of them sell Corn(Bhutta), some Garlands, some coconuts, etc. Well I couldn’t buy a garland from that kid coz it was no use for me. Neither I had won a gold medal in any Olympics that I deserved to wear one nor was it my birthday or marriage(oh I wish it was my marriage). So as soon as train passed…our bus moved again.
Within just half an hour I was finally in Bhaniyawala area. I got off at the point where my father usually waits for me when I come back from Delhi. And as expected, he was there standing there beside our 24 year old Yamaha RX-100. Well say whatever you wanna…but that bike is a gem. Though one of my school time classmate denied to go to farewell with me in that bike…but beside that setback…it has it’s own pride. Its so easy to use and so light-weight that John Abraham can pick 3 of those at once like he did in ….I am really not able to remember which movie.
So anyways… I gave my heavy bag to my Paa and took the charge of the bike myself. And just within 15 mins or something I was back at home with my lovely Tuffy ready to welcome me.
So that’s what happens when you take a bus instead of train or airplane. See…what a great adventure one misses.(Well I won’t mind travelling in plane…but it is damn too costly). See the irony here… I live just beside the runway of the only working airport in whole UK and leave the flying thing aside….I’ve never even been inside an airplane or even touched it.
So anyways… I hope you enjoyed the article.
Did I ever tell you that I often forget what I was talking about and go off the track many a times? Well if I didn’t…then I am telling now. So let’s start with our topic of today- ICE CREAMS.
I remember the time when I used to wait outside my house under my Banyan tree with a 2Rs coin in my hand. I used to wait to hear that Pom-Pom of the white cycle lorry- the treasure keeper…the Icecream-wala. Many people ask me a lot of times, am I from a village? I often reply to that with my own created terms- not really village but a semi-urban town. To be true…that’s how it can be really defined…the place where I used to live before. And where am I now?
Yeah so what I was talking about… yeah I forgot… Ice Creams. Sorry but I often loose the track while talking about something. Please don’t mind. So I was saying that there was a time when I used to wait under my Banyan Tree with 2Rs in my hand for the IceCream guy. I used to come home by 2 afternoon and after having my lunch I used to search whole house for just those 2 pennies. Quite a few times my mother used to help me out by taking out 6 from her vault- for me, my bro and herself. She is a very interesting character you see…bit kiddish from inside. Surprisingly she is still like that. Even now if I bring a chewing gum home…she would still like to have a bite of that…even if its just one chewing gum…I have to break it into two. Yeah so I was saying that quite often she used to join the party and give me 6 herself. Though not everyday; well to be honest she was not that much of a kid…even she knew eating icecream everyday is not good for our teeth. So as I was saying that I used to search whole house for those two little coins. I often used to try to pull out a two from my Piggy Bank(in India its like a big pot made of clay). And even if that didn’t work…then the drawer in our dressing table was the place where there were always spare coins.
Yeah so as I was saying that after getting my hands on those two bucks, I used to wait for the ice cream man. Punctual at his job, exactly at 3 o clock he used to reach the temple area. You could hear his Pom- Pom horn from quite far. And kids like me used to run towards him. I often used to forgot my slippers home while running towards that heavenly wagon. It was too hot outside, but that feeling of having that delicious melting cold lava inside my mouth always made me forgot the harsh warmth under my legs.
There were so many options. So so many that I used to feel real jealous when the kid from my neighbourhood used to buy a 5Rs two in one icecream- an orange sheet of sweet ice from outside…covering the white milky portion inside. So jealous that I often used to wish I were my neighbour’s kid. I so used to envy that Army-cut prick. I was often asked by my mother to get a haircut like that…just coz he had one. Well I never understood this that why all parents think that short hairs are the sign of a good kid. Shorter the hairs…more obedient the kid is. Never got answer to that question either.
Well nevermind… so as I was saying that how many variesties that ice-cream guy used to have. There was 1Rs sweet red icy bar…and then there was this 2Rs one… the elder brother to the 1Rs one. More wide and large than the 1Rs bar. At three we used to get a rounded milk bar. Well it looked like it was made of milk only but my mother always used to say otherwise. At 4 we had three’s big brother same like we had 1’s. Then 4 afterwards we had the elite class- the 5Rs aforementioned two flavoured bar, mixture of 1 and 3. At 6 we had seen was the Cup- white icecream cup which now I came to understand was Vanilla. At 7 we had another cup…a bigger one with Pinkish hue…which now I think was Strawberry. Then at 8 was this new guy in IceCream town- a coconut flavour. Well out of every kid we knew in our semi-urban town…we heard that Fauji’s(Soldier) son had tasted that one. Well I never knew or rather asked how was it’s taste…but I assumed it must be coconuty as per its name.
Moving on…now we had the premium ones in the line. Skipping 9… at 10 we had Chocobar. The dream of every kid…the chocolate covering the milky region. We had heard the rumours that Fauji’s kid had tried that one too. After 10 we all never even thought of guessing how the big shots would be like. We couldn’t even imagine if there could be any other flavour after 10.
So one can imagine how small my little world used to be. And just thinking about it now…all I can do is just smile. Here I am sitting in this big Food Court with regular McFlurry beside me…waiting for me to enjoy it’s Oreotic taste. And guess how much it cost me…freaking 82Rs. 42 times the one I used to eat from the ice cream vendor. I can’t just imagine how time has flown away. How I have become an adult from that little IceCream craving kid. That how I have gone past the time when not being able to find those 2 bucks used to give me tension all day and how now I lament upon my problems regarding friends and relationships. What have I become? Where’s that little kid inside me lost? What happened to him? All I do now is cry silently inside about some silly things and some silly girl.
When I was a kid…I used to cry for not getting a toy or ice-cream and I can easily recall that how back then I used to fell asleep while crying. And when I used to get up…I would had forgotten everything. I would had forgotten the reason for being sad and angry at first place. We all have been through that phase. And that time when my Maa used to scream at me for breaking some machine and I just used to start crying; though just after an hour I used to cling in her arms tightly to get consoled by her.
We have changed a lot now. Just think that how sad our life has become now that even when we feel to cry…we just cry from inside…we are not even able to shed our tears. How much pain we give to ourself for someone who doesn’t even care how you feel.
I can’t imagine how much have I changed…too much I guess. How difficult it has now become to talk to my parents for even 5 minutes. It feels like burden now, whereas as a kid they were the first one to whom I used to go running after coming home to tell that I scored 10/10 in Maths test. Why some person’s “I don’t care” behaviour about you is so hearbreaking, whereas while doing same to your parents it’s not such a big deal? Well no one can answer to that either.
Life plays too many puns on you…and all you can do is see bieng laughed upon…only what good we can do is laugh along in our life…that way even life would be surprised to see you being happy. People say Cricket is a funny game… well I would say Life is funnier than cricket my friend and Love is funniest of all… and neither of these games is easy. And only one advise can be given about these games- Play Wisely or You’ll Get Bowled.
So what was I saying- Ice Creams right? Oh…I think I lost the track again? Did I ever tell you that I often forget what I was talking about?