Remember your kiddie days? When getting all excited about making your parents’ day special was normal? When you put in a day’s work (or more) into creating that special Happy Birthday card for your Mom? I really hope that spark and that desire to do something special for your parents never fades away. But sometimes it does. You still make efforts, and it may seem somewhat similar to how it used to be, but deep in your heart you know it is not. Sometimes it’s mechanical, a habit. And the day seems good, but it is good at a superficial level. But sometimes, even though a day before the special day you’re not up for anything, the clouds may part, the stars may shift and everything can change. For the best, of course! Here’s a story.
Yet another lazy Saturday, thought Sara as she sat on the floor in front of her floor level bookcase, sifting through paperbacks, trying to choose. She had had a small argument with dad that morning and had spent all afternoon holed inside her room with the intermittent internet, before giving it up altogether and turning all cheery and normal again. Still, that didn’t make much of a difference, except that she wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the crumbling state of her technological devices. Hell with it, she thought. It was a beautiful day, one of those rare ones when bang in the middle of a hot-hot summer, the clouds betrayed and danced and clashed and shed enchanted water on the Earth. She stood for a while in their verandah, right in the drizzle, letting tiny droplets pat her cheeks and hair and shoulders, looking at the row of houses looking magical and dreamy in that rainy-weather light, trees and plants turning greener with each second.
Her mom called her in for tea. “I’ve got to go to the gurudwara. You’ll come with me?” she asked Sara while sipping on her cup. Under normal circumstances, Sara would have agreed to go, with just a slight hesitation. Not because she had anything against religious places of worship, but because it was the vacations and getting out of the house required making a sincere effort to look presentable. Today though, of course Sara agreed, and it was a very enthusiastic agreement. It’s really just these moments that make people realize what a mood swing of the Almighty (for want of normal words, pleasant weather change) could do. Besides, she had been struck with an idea and she really wanted to make it work. Sunday was Father’s Day and she had earlier planned on making a greeting card and presenting it in the morning. Now though, she wanted to do something more than just a card.
It had been five and a half days since her father had been trying to find an old movie online. He did find a few legitimate links, but none of them worked smoothly and he had just been disappointed. Sara decided it would be cool if she could find a CD for that movie and surprise him with it on Father’s Day. A bouquet of fresh roses scented with the rain in the morning would be a welcome gift too! Her mom hopped in on her plan and the two set off on Sara’s scooty, telling dad they’d be back soon from the gurudwara and stopping by the mobile shop for a recharge. By the time Sara was taking out her scooty, she was feeling giddy with enthusiasm. It was drizzling, and she was one hell of an adventurous girl.
Here’s a bit about Sara’s mom. She’s an average built woman with auburn and black hair. Sara quite liked the orangish hue that came from frequent use of herbal mehendi. Her mom isn’t much of a chemical fan. She’s a sensitive brown-eyed person with a golden heart and hence it had been years since Sara and her dad and mischievous brother had played a prank on Mom. They feared she might just drop unconscious from shock, so it was better to be safe than sorry. Plus, sometimes it was total role-reversal; Sara the mom and the mom, the kid. Even though it was Sara who drove the scooty each time they had to go shop for home products, her mom was perennially afraid of the monstrous Delhi traffic and had that constant edge in her heart and expression, so focused on the thousands of motor vehicles on the road that she wouldn’t even reply to what Sara might be saying from the front.
The roads were wet and Sara and her mom, both were feeling quite happy, just because of the awesomely pleasant weather, and they decided Sara would drive really slowly and they’d make it to all the places they had to visit. A mental note was made, and they started off, driving through their block and onto the roads. Sara tried driving as slow as possible, and carefully wove around the streets and cars, hoping her mom was enjoying the ride-in-the-drizzle as much as she was and made it to the main road. Just before entering a crossing, she braked hard and the scooty’s brake made an annoying screechy sound, before coming to an abrupt halt. Her mom got anxious, but Sara simply held up her left hand to her and gave a nod that said, ‘It’s okay. There was just an idiot three-wheeler speeding like an ass on a dangerous wet road’. She rode her way calmly into the main road, avoiding the potholes and slowing to a crawl on the speed-breakers. Cyclists and rickshaws passed them and just looking at that, Sara burst into laughter, right there driving on the road and her mom said, “You can definitely go a bit faster. We don’t have all night to roam around.”
They reached their trademark flower seller, the guy who knew Sara and her family ever since Sara was a year old. She waited for the guy to end a phone call, duly ignoring the other two sellers who were beckoning them towards their own stalls. But Sara was one hell of a loyalist. Mr. Hari ended his phone call and smiled up at them. “A bouquet of roses, to be delivered tomorrow morning!” Sara recited. Mr. Hari handed her a small card on which she wrote, “Happy Father’s Day pops!” and turned the card over to write the address. Sara had this amazingly creepy talent: she could get lost in her mind while doing stuff that didn’t require much intellectual use, like writing down her own address. You remember such things by heart, so she was imagining the glow of happiness on her dad’s face when she’d wake him and mom up the next morning with green tea, all while jotting down the address, so she didn’t realize she had written the complete address, city and pin code included! For a local flower seller who delivers flowers up to one kilometre. She broke into a laugh as soon as she realized it and her mom joined in. The thing about Sara’s mom? She was known to laugh a lot and when in a funny situation, everyone would have stopped laughing a while ago and her mom would still be at it, thinking of what had happened over and over, so that the others got themselves into another round of laughter, just looking at how mom’s laugh is funnier than the joke!
Her road-phobic mom decided to check out the CD shop on the opposite road, instead of the one further away, which would require the scooty. It was getting dark by then and both these girls (her mom is the classic case of the ‘I’m not old’ brigade) hated when daylight ended. For Sara, it was spooky, even though at the same time she liked the mysteriousness. For her mom, it was just an opportunity for Delhi’s criminal population to surface and kidnap girls like Sara, so she usually avoided the dark. But that day it was quite a crowd out there and lots of traffic and it was only late evening, what with the amazing feel-good weather, so they just went on doing things a little faster. They visited the CD shop, where the owner sadly replied that he didn’t have that movie, but told them of some other shop which might stock it. Mom was totally out of it by then, because if there was anything that scared her more than the inside main roads, it would be the outer main roads, complete with proper red lights and vehicles ranging from cycles to DTC buses, all on the same lane.
Sara though, was totally in the mood and she suggested an inside road and said they’d park there and walk the rest of the way, especially as they had to cross the hugest main road of that area, to get to the other CD shop. Mom agreed reluctantly, making Sara swear that she’d drive really carefully. Reaching the spot where Sara thought they could park, to her dismay they saw the place full and they had to get on the main-roads-ka-daddy-road, which for the first time made Sara anxious. Darkness, the roads wet and slippery, mud and muck, people crammed at the red lights! Yikes! Gradually, getting their ears molested with the thousands of honks and creeping along the muck-filled road, they reached the place where they had thought of parking. Alas, that was where a huge construction activity was going on, with half the road blocked and a dull yellow, rusted crane stood where they wanted to park. Sara had a negligible sense of direction even though she was driving for the past 5 years, and her mom guided her near an apartment right on the roadside, both feeling anxious and still laughing nervously as a huge bus just passed them like a ghost, making Sara shudder.
|It's not easy walking/driving on such a road, y'know!|
Scooty parked, they now had to reach the CD shop which was across the daddy road, complete with construction muck right in the centre. Sara held her mom’s hands and they nervously tramped through the side of the road, stepping into puddles, one behind the other, breaking into laughter every now and then at the idiocy of their actions. They reached the crane and her mom stopped, just looking at it in awestruck wonder as it lifted off a tin sheet, crumpled it up and dumped it on the side. “We could so easily be crumpled like that if we just stand here,” mom said, jerking her head towards the other couple of pedestrians who were passing by. “Come on.” They reached that magnanimous signal and waited for their side of the signal to turn red. Soon it did and they clutched each other’s hands tightly and made it through half-way, right up to where the hugest construction work that blocked half the road was standing, the warning boards ending just where they now stood, waiting for the other signal to turn red. They almost reached the whole way, still clutching hands and mom almost running, just being careful enough to put her feet in the right places in case she slipped. Sara held on and looked up and saw a car swerving around the corner. Missing the car by turning to their right, the duo gave each other nervous giggles and kept on moving.
To be continued....