2008.

As I saw him pull up his socks under his pants, gently push his feet into the brown shoes and tie the laces with his shaky hands, I felt as though I was time travelling. Physically I was in 2019, staring at him but mentally I was somewhere in 2008. Suddenly, my mind was relaxed, a hundred things did not run through my mind, I had no deadlines to keep and I was not consciously blocking out my stress. I half expected my aunt to come down, wearing a colorful saree, smelling like the yellow- staining majanta perfume and say where all the food and snacks were kept and insist that we eat all the chocolates in the fridge- then wave us goodbye as then she would proceed to get on the scooter behind him with her bag around her shoulder and the pallu of her saree tucked on her lap. We would keep waving and standing by the gate until they turned around the corner, common courtesy I suppose. The radio in the room is still playing old Malayalam songs. The radio itself was very old and I cannot remember a time without it playing these old songs, waking me up in the morning while my aunt is in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast.

Thus began a long 8 hours in my summer vacation. Some days we would go shopping during the day. Mostly for books, otherwise we would not be willing to leave the house. Travel in the rain to buy chips and pickles? No thanks. Travel in the rain to buy chips, pickles AND look at books? Yeah, alright. (Now I understand that kids are easy to manipulate.)

And some days we would laze around watching TV, eating all the aforementioned snacks, reading books (a simpler time, before the era of smartphones) and wait for them to come back. By evening, my mom would wake me up from my nap, scolding me to not sleep at dusk, and then she would proceed to light the lamp and start the evening prayers. By the time she’s done the sound of the gate opening would be music to our ears and both my aunt and uncle would be back with a whole lot of treats. We would make Tea and coffee and sit around the table talking about our day. And without fail, every year, whenever I go there, they would never forget to buy me the traditional snack Bholee. I don’t think I’ve eaten it from anywhere except their house.

These memories felt untainted and happy. I could stay in that moment forever.

However, I was snapped back to 2019 by the sound of the door closing behind my uncle. For a brief moment, I was back to being a 11 year old with no care in the world. So much has changed-

The radio starts to play old Malayalam songs and my aunt hums along in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast for me.

But somethings, remain the same – comforting and familiar.

Advertisements
Standard

A bus journey to remember.

Getting out of the KSRTC, I started walking towards Shaktan Stand. I passed by some street vendors who were selling mangoes.

3 Kilo, 100 rupees! Varoo Varoo*” (*Come!)

I looked at them and continued walking.

“Mole, molkkum venemengil medikkam! 3 Kilo verum 100 rupees.” (You can also buy it! 3 kilos for just 100 rupees.)

I smiled thinking how they looked at everyone as a prospective customer.

Walking over to the usual place where I find the buses that take me home, I dodged so many school children crowding over different buses. Little did I know that this was foreshadowing.

The bus wasn’t in it’s usual place and I asked a bus conductor standing beside me , “Chetta, Peechi Dam bus evide?” (Where is the bus to Peechi Dam?)

“Aa anjamathe bus. Neela bus . Kandille?” (That fifth bus. The blue one. Saw it?)

I got on it and the seats had been taken already. I stood by the door, kept my bag by the feet of an old lady, hoping she wouldn’t scream at me.

A couple more ladies got on the bus. And finally, so did the bus driver.

This began a 20 minute journey that’s hard to forget.

As soon as the conductor stepped foot in the bus, there was a swarm of school kids starting to file into the bus. It was probably around 20 or so , but felt like a 100 kids minimum , in that already packed bus. I clung on the metal bar in front of me for dear life, literally. They started dumping their bags on the laps of the people sitting. One by one by one the pile grew until someone said “Mathi mathi! Oru paruthi ille makkale!” (Enough! There’s a limit to how many I can hold kids.)

The bus slowly started it’s way out of the bus stand. Between all this commotion a lady tapped on my shoulder:

“Mission Hospital ariyumo?” (Do you know where Mission Hospital is?)

“Aa ariyam.” (Yes.)

“Ethiyal onnu parayane.” (Please let me know when we reach there.)

The bus had moved for , maybe, 50 ft when it reached it’s first stop. A few more school kids got in.

The Conductor : “ullil po pillare. Malayathil alle parayunne! Aa bag okke evideyenkilum vachittu ullilekk po ellarum.” (Push inside! Keep those bags somewhere and move in.)

A small shuffle from everyone trying to move in. The Conductor seemed to think we were inside Hermione’s bag from Deathly Hallow, unlimited space inside. Honestly, How far can you go in a small private bus?

The second stop, again was filled with school children looking expectantly at the bus. It stopped and the conductor said only 2-3 students, out of the almost 20 waiting there, shall be allowed in.

Of course that was a lie and he let in as many kids as he could.

As of now, people were going in, nobody was moving out. Fun.

Then, Mission Hospital loomed in front. I tried to turn around and let the lady know that this was her stop. When I turned around it was just school children. ALL SCHOOL CHILDREN. I couldn’t find anybody else.

The bus stopped at the Hospital Bus stop, around 2 people got out and 7-8 more kids climbed on.

The bus started moving again.

Thankfully, the lady figured out that the big red building with Hospital written over it was, in fact, her stop and I heard her yell from the back,

“Ivide iranganam! Aal iranganund.” (I need to get off here.)

She started making her way through the sea of school children, still yelling that she needs to get out, reaching nowhere because they were all fully grown solid human beings and it’s difficult to push yourself through them. Somehow she made it to the front, stepping on numerous feet in the meanwhile. But her greatest obstacle was still yet to come. Getting down.

“Kutti onnu maroo please” (Kid,please move).

Which kid? Move where?

She danced around in that small space between people’s feet, their bags, tugged on their shawls and somehow reached the stairs of the bus. Everyone was waiting for her to get down to return back to their normal stance.

The Conductor was opening the door to let her out.

Everyone waited in anticipation. If she gets down, people can breathe properly.

He pulls on the handle. It’s stuck.

Everyone who sees it, groans.

He tried again. And again. And again.

The lady looked nervous. Everyone looked nervous . The same thoughts went through everyone’s minds, I’m sure.

What if the door doesn’t open and she will have to go through the back door?

I shuddered at that thought. Voices everywhere telling the man, who operates the door daily, as to how to operate it.

The driver is getting impatient.

After what seems like forever, he put his entire might and pulled on the handle . The stubborn door swung open. The lady out the door instantly. The Conductor’s face spelled out R E L I E V E D. The bus seemed to breathe properly again.

We continued the journey. And as if to increase the difficulty level in this weird game everyone was playing, it started raining. Great.

The bus halted again soon and the conductor tried to get off to go to the back of the bus. But as he rushed down the stairs , his trademark-black-money-bag got caught in the hero of the evening, handle of the bus and he slipped , and the bus started moving. Everyone screamed for him, the driver put on the sudden brakes and he fell back on the lowest step on the bus.

He was pulled back into the top of the stairs and he seemed shook. The schoolgirl beside him asked if he was okay

He replied : “Daivamme, brake ittath nannayi. Allenkil naalathe paperil kandenne enne” (Thank God he hit the brakes. Otherwise I’d be dead.)

As we approached my stop, I started digging into the heap of bags trying to find mine.

I pulled my heavy bag up from the bottom as the conductor screamed “Ollukara! Ollukara!”

I moved to the door, the bus stopped and I got out as soon as possible, making sure none of the straps were stuck anywhere on the bus as I didn’t want the Conductor’s incident to happen to me as well.

The fresh air after the rain hit my face . The door closed behind me and the ‘Neela’ bus took off leaving me with a strange set of memories about my own town.

Standard

‘Before-After’

This past week, I went to Chennai to visit my cousin. It was the first time I visited Chennai after almost 2 years. It was wonderful thinking about how much I’ve changed, evolved as a person, since the last time the city saw me. 

The first time I was here, I came with my mom, she took care of everything and then she left. All I had to do was go for classes till noon and come back and study. And that’s all I did. I was all alone in a city I didn’t know and all I heard everyday in the phone calls from my parents and relatives was to be careful. So that’s what I did. I was careful. I shut myself up in that apartment and only went out for the daily dosage of CLAT prep. 

To me, Chennai was an intimidating city. Everything was new and scary. For instance, I walked to classes. And I remember how terrified I was of crossing roads. I even took the long way round if it meant that I could avoid crossing busy roads. 

And when my classes ended after 25 days, I didn’t want to travel in a train all by myself, so my uncle came all the way from Kerala to drop me back to Kerala. 

It all seems so silly now. Now I travel every chance I get. And If I’m alone, its better.  The roads aren’t intimidating anymore, it’s just annoying(how drivers refuse to stop!). I take care of all my needs myself. I feel independent and free.

Chennai always holds a special place in my heart, for, it’s where the second phase of my life started. 

Thinking about all these instances gives my a small sort of pride; this is character development right? 

Standard

Bits and pieces.

The first time I went to a stadium. It doesn’t seem important. But it is. The first time, in a long time, I felt that way. Excited about something. And it was magical. Not the game. The game went on. But the happiness of the people there. Like a carnival. We jumped and screamed with all we had,supporting the men in yellow. A whole sea of people collectively screaming the team’s name. Everyone high-fiving each other regardless of whether we knew each other or not.

And I wondered, if the people in the country behaved like this on a daily basis. Not caring who his fellow being is and wha is his story. No judgements. Just enjoying each others company and supporting India as a country,not just the states or a political party. If the whole of India was a giant football team playing against the rest of the world, would we still kill each other in the name of God or a man who we worship as God?

Standard