Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Train

Summer of '89.

Good old times when I was this innocent young kid, mumma loved me so much and papa had the time to take us to places. Summer vacation was on and we were out on our voyage to Agra and Delhi. We were at our uncle's place in Delhi and one fine day we set out to see places; The plan being Qutub Minar --> Chandni Chauk --> Lal Quila.
Remember the plan because I will stick to it! :)

We have finished visiting Qutub Minar, Now we are in Chandni Chauk.Thew markets are crowded and there are just too many shops. I have never seen such a crowd in my life. As we are moving along, something catches my fancy. There is this toy shop which has this beautiful long train on display going on its long circular track. The engine is black, the track is silver and the coaches are beatiful. I instantly go and start watching it closely. It makes a whistling sound and also throws a small puff of steam as it carries on its track. Boy isn't this amazing. I can't help seeing it for minutes. I want it. I want it somehow. I decide to plead my parents to buy that for me. But as I turn back, I get jitters. I find myself standing alone in middle of that crowded market with no signs of my family nearby.

Bang! What to do now?
Now the extremely smart kid that I am, I am reminded of the plan.
Chandni Chauk to Lal Quila. Yuhoo!

I don't waste a single more minute, I turn around and start moving back towards Lal Quila. It is some 2 kms from here, but I am smart and I remember the way back! I see a couple of policemen with their walkie talkie on my way, but I am not to tell them that I am lost! Why? Because policemen are thugs. Almost all of the movies say so. I don't stop. After a twenty minute walk I am here standing right infront of Lal Quila. Hey but there is this six lane road that I have to cross.
How do I...Tring... Red is Stop, and Green is a Go! Whoa who needs help?
I carefully cross the road and reach the main entrance of Lal Quila and sit down in shade eagerly waiting for my family to reach here. I am all ready to give them a surprise.

Half hour passed. No ones here! I am thirsty. I look around and spot a handpump in front of a shop. I quench my thirst and start waiting again in front of the cold drink shop. Its getting late but I am determined that they'll reach to me. Suddenly the shopkeeper who is watching over me for more than an hour starts coming towards me.

He is asking - "Beta aap akele yahan kyun baithe ho?"
I am smart. I must not tell him that I am lost otherwise he will go and tell the police. I have to make up something. Quickly.
I answer - "Mere mummy, papa, mama, mami, didi sab kho gaye hain. Wo Lal Quila ghoomne aa rahe hain isliye main yahan wait kar raha hoon"

He listens to me carefully. He chuckles slightly, takes me to his shop and hands me over a cold drink. He looks like a good uncle to me now. I am sure. I like Maaza.
He is asking me again - "Aap apne ghar ka address jaante hain?"
I am assured of the fact that He is a good person.
I reply - "haan" and I tell him the complete address of my Uncle's place. I am a champ. I remember the complete 5 line address. He says OK and goes away somewhere. I am waiting for him to return.

Suddenly my seat has started shaking.. whats happening? I open my eyes to see the familiar bus stop and playground near my house. I am sitting in an auto with the shopkeeper. I have reached back home. Yes the uncle is a good man. I go and knock the door.

Shopkeeper holding my hand : "ye aapka bachha hai?"
I don't say a word. When two elders are talking then I should not talk in between. My taiji is puzzled to see me coming back with a stranger.
Taiji: "haan haan".
She pulls me towards herself.

Hurray I have made it back to the home.
Yayie
And theres more to it.
None of my family is here.
I came back first.
Ain't I'm overjoyed!

My taiji, tauji are having a long conversation with the shopkeeper. It seems like they are thanking him.There are some phone calls happening. But I am not bothered.I am just playing around with my toys.

I have just defeated my friend in cricket. I am excited and I open my eyes. I see my entire family there standing right in front of me. Mummas weeping. Why is she? But more importantly I see some new clothes and a helicopter for me in the shopping bag. I am happy.

Today is 13th. I will turn 6 tomorrow. I like my birthday presents but I still can't get that train out of my mind.

P.S. - The person had informed a police station that he was taking me to my home. When my parents got the information that I have reached home safely, they immediately went to that shop. They bought stuffs like crazy there. I think my father handed over the clothes that he had bought for himself to the shopkeeper as a gift. In the night my mumma wrote my name and the address on my arm with a pen.
I woke up next day only to find that we all were going again to the same place. Oh no not again! My father kept holding my arm as hard as he could the entire day. And he told all the shopkeepers whom he had inquired about me that I was the boy. I got greeted Happy Birthday by scores of shopkeepers that day :)

1 comment:

Sapna said...

very memorable b'day
thank god nd the uncle who helped you.may god bless him