Continued from Part 1.
Now, the previous CD shop guy had said it’d be somewhere near a chemist shop. The road had a custom shop, a kirana store, even a store for local toys. “It’s very near, it’s easy. You’ll get there without any problem.” Mom said in an ugly voice, mimicking the guy. This road was a two way road and now they were into another locality that Sara’s dad avoided because he thought people there lacked civil and common sense and could be dangerous on roads. His ideas about that place were so strong that he went all the way and called it a huge cockroach, for when even a nuclear bomb might go off, he believed this place could not change. As Sara and her mom once again, kept as close to the sides as possible, moving one after the other, Sara felt quite protective of her mom. It was Sara’s stubbornness that had got them into this place, to start with. And her mom was really scared of such things. Sara moved ahead, feeling the adrenalin rush through her veins, moving her hands as if trying to shrug off a bad case of sticky mosquitoes, so that the oncoming traffic would not miss her by chance and roll their wheels on her. It wasn’t possible, but Sara’s imagination said it might happen.
They saw the chemist shop on their right and hi-5ed and Sara felt like doing a celebratory dance. It wasn’t it, though, for there was still no sign of the CD shop. Mom now took over with renewed enthusiasm (not a positive one, just the kind that said- I’ve got to get this over with!) and started walking ahead, holding up the corners of her salwaar and muttering, “It has all been spoiled! Look at my clothes!” Sara could not look even if she wanted to. It was dark and they were busy shielding off cars that moved inches from where they walked. Finally Sara pointed out what she assumed to be the CD shop, if the movie posters on the open glass door were any indication. That was it. They went inside, all soggy and out-of-breath and were greeted by two men who turned down the volume of a sloppy Bollywood number on their player. Mom asked them for the movie’s CD, to which one of the guys replied with a ‘No.’ It seemed as if the whole effort had been drenched and turned into a mucky soggy mass. Then the guy suggested another religious movie which Mom knew was equally good and dad would like that too. Hurriedly, they agreed on it and asked for the price. “Rs. 38”, the man replied.
Sara raised her eyebrows and her mom laughed and said, “You sure it’ll work?”
“Yes ma’am! It’s an original company CD!”
Sara and her mom were giggling by now, and then the older guy smiled and said, “You’re laughing over the price, right? The company reduced the price, that’s why! It’s still an original and yes, it will work”. He was laughing too. Sara decided to anyway go home and download the movie somehow. She was all anti-piracy but sometimes it just had to be done. They left the shop laughing and giggling and then her mom turned all serious and said, “Now you’ll go from where I’ll ask you to! You’re such a scary adventure-loving girl!” Sara agreed and they once again, stuck to the side of the road. This time it was even more dangerous, as they were no longer facing the cars and traffic coming their way. Sara heard her mom calling from behind, “You know we’re walking on the wrong side of the road,” she said turning into her teacher mode, speaking like she’s teaching a five year old. “We should always walk facing the traffic.”
“Okay mom, you mean like this?” Sara smiled and turned around, taking steps backward. Mom laughed. “You’ve got a mean sense of humor, kid! And you don’t even see the situation.” Sara replied, “It’s okay. We’re okay. Just a road to cross and we’ll head home.” Mom smiled and they reached the daddy road once again. Just like God witnessed their remarkable dedication and the way they faced their fears just to get for dad what he really wanted, to make his special day memorable, He took mercy on them and provided them free roads! Narrowly missing a slip, mom walking fast in her funny peculiar manner that Sara’s brother liked to mimic, with one shoulder perked upwards and head tilted slightly to the other side, looking down on the road and yet in front, at the same time, they crossed the road, past the crane that could have lifted them and crumpled them up, past the sticky road and the apartment with an open transistor, and reached their scooty. There was a family of six standing near there and mom asked for an easy way out. They shook their heads unanimously when she asked about the easiest route. “It’s closed” they said.
Sara started the scooty and they reached the road. Looking back at the huge signal, they saw the horde of yellow and orange lights gradually speed up, having just released from the red light, moving towards them, on an otherwise empty road. “Oh damn. Fast, fast, fast!” Sara muttered as she entered the road and sped up, now crinkling her eyes in the drizzle, turning up the accelerator, feeling like Mike racing in the Pacific arena in a Roadrash game as a couple of bikers swiftly zoomed past. She heard her mom speak softly from behind, “The traffic’s still far away, slow down! We’ve got to take the next cut on the left.” The said cut was near and Sara slowed down, indicated left and took that cut. ‘Darkness’ was the first word that came to her mind. She hadn’t been here before and it was spooky. No overhead lights to light up the place, though the place was still alive with people. There were shops on the right, messy houses on the left and tempos and small carrier autos on the roads, reversing and parking and just moving around. Sara didn’t know what she could do except just move straight ahead, sometimes feeling like there’s only her and that narrow strip of the part of road where she was driving. Dark vehicles passed by and mom kept muttering, “Straight, straight, straight.”
The road forked and Sara guessed the left would take them home. Sometimes it really came as a surprise. A while ago when they were yet to cross the daddy road, Sara’s mom worried about being crushed in case they walked too early or too late. Sara always thought things through, even in case of emergencies like these. “It’s okay mom,” she said. “Just think logically. It’s actually not very difficult to think like Sherlock Holmes.” They had made it through easily, right? Taking the left was one of those logics into work. The street got weirder. Sara had no idea where they were and soon enough there was another fork. Sara started towards the right one, but soon realized that it was very dark and very narrow and filled with people. It just didn’t seem right. Her mom asked her to take the other one, which was broader but still very dark. Cruising among the black mass, the road soon gave away to a strip of un-made land, just stones put together, with muck and wetness making it soggy. Sara slowed down and they bumped along the road, scooty now a little unsteady, what will all those people making all kinds of noises. They were now in a small slum kind of an area and no one moved away even when Sara honked continuously. People in dark clothes, girls in sequined and bellbottomed jeans, kids in rags and crying, and that bumpy road all made them nervous but thankfully it wasn’t for long. The road eased out and viola! They reached another road, but Sara recognized this one with a jolt of happiness! The inside main road, the one that led to their flower seller! They had come out right in front of another inside road that led to their gurudwara.
Just as they turned and entered the lane, Sara and her mom gave a celebratory whoop! It’s just that feeling when you’re all nervous and anxious and then you enter your area and it’s all cool. Sara parked in front of the gurudwara, thanking God all the time, looking up at her jeans sprayed with mud and her slippers slipping and squishing in the muck, her feet speckled with brown and still not caring a single bit about it, for they were back from a seemingly small but surely memorable adventure. Returning after offering their prayers, Sara realized they had left the CD in the scooty’s open storage area! :P The cell phone vibrated and Sara’s dad asked with a mixture of anxiousness, anger and relief, “where the hell have you been!” Looking up at mom with an expression that said, “Oops!” Sara laughed and said they were stuck in traffic and would be back in 10 minutes. They reached the mobile shop next and while Sara waited outside, her mom did the chore and they set off finally, for home.
“How about some ice-cream?” Mom asked. “Whoa! You sure are enjoying this a lot, aren’t you?” Sara teased, to which her mom replied with a smile and a nod, just adding that minus the safety part, yeah it was fun! Sara hid the CD in her scooty and they went inside giggling and laughing, telling dad they were stuck in traffic, the scooty had trouble starting, etc etc, and looking at each other and laughing again! Sara realized how happy a tiny deed made her feel. She hadn’t even done anything, the card was still pending and they didn’t get the exact same movie, which she had to download. But watching her parents tease each other, having ice-cream together, she imagined how it was just perfect. How it’s not what you gift, but the thoughts behind those gifts that make the moments priceless. That night she slept a comfortable sleep, imagining all the amazing things tomorrow would bring. :)
If you haven’t realized yet, Sara is me and this story is 100% true. :D