Joined: 12 April 2016
It was 5:30 PM when Avadh express arrived Borivali station. I was not sure whether my father had already reached Mumbai or not. "Had he been there, he would have definitely reached the station even before the train arrived",the thought strike my mind with a surprise. " That means he might have dropped the idea of coming there", I said to myself. It was strange for me. My father never leaves me alone in a new place. One of my uncle lives in Mumbai. Whenever I used to go to Surat from Solapur during college days, I always used to halt at my uncle's place as per my father's advice. "But this time, papa didn't inform me of anything. I could not even talk to him since last three days. I did not even know where my uncle's house was ?", I continuously murmured in my mind.
Just as I began to think, what I need to do further, I heard the sound of classical music coming somewhere from nearby. As I came out from the exit, I saw a concert was organized in grand hall just oppsite to the railway station . It seemed like a gathering of great singers . The entrance of the hall was beautifully decorated. Out of curiosity, I crossed the road and went there. I saw a large crowd of audience had assembled there to enjoy the melodious voices of the legendary singers.
Next day it was my paper. "I can't spend more time ove here. Its going to be dark soon and I don't have any place to spend the night. Moreover, I am not very fond of classical music". Thinking this I came out of the concert. Attached to the building of that hall, there was a raised platform. I saw a girl sitting on that. Looking at her accessories, it seemed even she had come there to give her exam. I asked her about her plan. She was thinking to spend the night in the guest house. Her exam was also due the next day. I didn't know what to do and where to go ? So I asked her if I could accompany her for tonight. She thought for a while and then said, " yes". I was really happy to hear that. I guess she too was delighted. It looked as if we got friends in a foreign land. The guest house was near the station only. We discussed whether we should order a blanket or a quilt. Then ended up on a decision that when we wud reach there, we wud order a blanket as the temperature was not so cool. In the few minutes, we considerably mingled with each other.
We were about to leave that place, just when I remembered I had not informed at my home about my safe arrival. I was a little scared by the thought that I wud be scolded for being so careless. But then I had to inform them. " Mother wud be in tension, she needs to know that I am safe," I thought and searched my bag for my phone. I searched my whole bag but could not find the small device. After searching it for nearly five minute, I saw it screwed in between my books. I took my phone out and looked at its screen. There were no missed calls. This came as another surprise to me. " Why the hell nobody called be today. Had it been some other day, I wud have got series of missed calls in my phone. Then why not today ?", I thought with suspicion. But then I saw a message from my father. The mesaage asked " Reached ? " I became a bit relaxed that at least everything is alright with them. That was enough for me.
I was about to reply to that message that I saw my father roaming outside the concert hall having a chat on his phone with my uncle and as usual was telling him that how much he is fed up of my regular carelessness of not informing him whenever I go somewhere and how this time even he did not bother to call me up continuously so that I can embibe in myself at least some sense of responsibility. I felt guilty of myself.
While conversing on phone he saw me. He did not say anything to me, didn't scold me either but just asked me to pick my belongings as we were leaving for my uncle's house. He also informed me that tomorrow he won't be able to arrange a car, hence I need to know the exmaination centre right now so that I can easily get there, the next day and only after that we will leave for my uncle's house.
I didn't like the idea very much since I had promised the girl to stay with her this night. I hate breaking promises even if they are made to newly found people in my lives. But it was a n order from my father and could not dare to object. And I refused the girl to come with her. I could sense a little bit of sadness she felt from my decicion, since we both had planned out everything from taking room to convence for reaching our examination hall. But still she respected my decision and both of us bid goodbye to each other. Me and my father moved towards looking for our centre.
My centre was on station road, lane A. We were not able to make out where exactly the location is ! So my father asked the people who were sitting outside the cconcert hall to guide us with the directions. They told us something. They pointed towards the place where two lanes were going. They told us one was going towards Pune and another one was lane A where I needed to go. My father whether I was able to understand the way or not ? Although I exactly could not but still I answered him in affirmative. I didn't want to stress him much. He had already undergone an operation because of his accident. He was hardly able to walk yet he was trying to help me out in every possible way.
"Why are you taking so much of tension ? I am a grown up girl. I will manage tomorrow. Let us please go to uncle's house as u need some rest.", I wanted to say all this to him but could not say. Papa does not like advices. He would never like me caring for him like a weak man. Hence, I did not speak a word.
Just then my uncle arrived to pick both of us in a taxi. We all sat in the taxi. Uncle sat in front. Me and papa sat on the backside. We feel more jerks when we sit on the backseat of the car. I was worried about my father feeling pain each time the car jerked due a pit or any speed breaker. He had just underwent and operation and tomorrow was his appointment in the hospital as well. That is the reason he has left all upon me to reach my centre else he wud have surely come.
Finally our taxi stopped near a big sweet shop. Many people were buying sweets from there. Many lanes went inside through the street on which we were standing. Uncle told us that we have to go through these zig zag lanes to reach his house and since taxi can't go through the narrow lanes, we needed to walk there on.
All three of us began to move inside the lanes. I had phone in my hand. I thought of checking some messages as I had got since I had not checked them since morning due to the hustle bustle which was going around outside as well as inside my mind. My father and uncle discussed their office stuffs as they walked towards home. I think they got so lost in their conversations that they went way ahed leaving me quite behind. I also did not pay much attention since I was a bit lost with messages. But my father has a habbit of walking swiftly. Even a major injury did not affect his speed to a great extent.
In all this they didn't pay attention that I was left behind. Nor I had any inking that I have lost them. As soon as I uplifted my head, I saw they were no more near me. However, I did not take it much seriously. I thought they must be somewhere nearby. Soon I wud find them or I wud ask someone or atleast papa woould definetely find me. He can't leave me alone.
But this was never meant to be so easy as I had thought. I could not see the house afar. They had gone far away. There were lanes inside the lanes. Many stairs were also there continuing to further lanes. The whole place was quite crowded. Many people from both the communities, hindu as well as Muslims were present there. I guessed it was a religious place for both of them. I tried my level best to find my father but could not succeed. I asked people who were passing by but nobody bothered to tell help me. Nobody even wanted to hear me. It was a busy hour for all of them. It was time for hindus to perform Aarti as and Muslims to offer Namaz. Every person wanted to serve God, but no one wanted to help a girl who was wandering in the crowd, isolated and lost.
Finally, I climbed up some stairs thinking may be I wud be able to find my father and uncle from a raised area. But again invain. I was not able to see anything except a mosque which stood nearby.
"This was the place where people were coming to offer their evening prayers", I thought . I think there was a temple also nearby since I could hear the temple bells. Seeing the crowd it seemed that the place was of high religious importance.
To my utter shock, I saw the same girl standing near the mosque with whom I had met outside the concert. She seemed to be quite stressed and disappointed. She was struggling with her phone.
"She should have been in her room. ", I thought. I went near her and asked what happened to her and why she looked so tensed. So she informed me that she booked a two seater room but since I backed off, the incharge was not giving her a single seater room, as all the rooms have been booked.
I really felt bad for her. It was all because of me. I wanted to help her out in any way I could. I wanted to take her with me. "But then even I was lost. How could I help her out. Even if I find my guardians, I will have to take permission from them to keep her with me. I hardly know anything about her ? I am not even at my home. Will they allow her in ? What if they don't allow her ? Where will she go in the midst of the night ? It won't be safe for her. ", a string of thoughts came in my mind. But I wanted to help her out in any way I could. So I asked her to stop wandering and take shelter either in the mosque or in the temple nearby but she should find a shelter for herself before it gets dark. She agreed with me and went away from there.
I proceeded further. I saw some decending stairs. I decided to move down. Just as I moved down, I saw there was an entrance of a house and on the entrace of that house, a dead body of a middle aged woman had just arrived. The house was not very big. It was a congested place. Her relatives had just started to come out from their house. I felt shattered for them. I could not stand there anymore. Climbed back the stairs and again stood near the mosque. I felt a sort of peace and tranquility over there. I did not want to go anywhere from there unless I find my father. I was feeling very disturbed.
I was quite exhausted searching for my father since long. I decided to call him. I thought they might be knowing about this mosque. It wud be easy for them to find me. I took out my phone from my bag and began to dial the number. To my bad luck again, the phone was getting hanged as soon as I was pressing the number. I was not able to call him.
However, I tried again. This time a man stood nearby me and whispered in my ears, " Which phone do you have Madam ? " He was 40 to 50 years of age as per my guess. His hair had turned white but his actions seemed to be black. He came so close to my ears and whispered that I got scared. "Something was definitely fishy about him", I thought. His question was normal but his gesture was suspicious.
He again asked me, " Which phone do you have madam ? ", stroking his hair and giving creepy expressions to me. At first I thought he wanted to snatch my phone from me, probably because he was a thief but them I felt he was upto something major. He definitely wanted to snatch my phone from me but not for stealing. He wanted to take away my phone so that I won't be able to call my father. May be he wanted to take me away as well, silently. I had no idea who he was or what he wanted. I was extremely scared. I wanted to shout but my voice got choked. I wanted to run away from him but hands shivered and my feet seemed to be locked at that place. I felt helpless, completely helpless.
He again asked me, " Which phone do I have ?" He was asking me the same question again and again but I know his voice, the expression in his eyes all were challenging me to scream, if I could. As if he knew I was in the state of being shell shocked and scared and I won't be able to retaliate him. As if he knew I won't be able to scream, as if I won't be able to protect myself.
I was very frightened. I felt I would faint out of horror. But anyhow, I tried to stablize myself. I shouted for help. But the volume was too low to be heard by the busy crowd. There was too much of chaos. I still could not scream, loud enough to be heard.
He was again and again asking me the same question each time with a greater challenge for me in his eyes. I had never felt this scared in my life. The more I got afraid, the more he became confident as if my fear and his confidence were in direct proportion to each other.
Anyhow, I began to run away from there. There was no speed in my feet yet I ran and ran. He too ws not able to run faster as there was too much of crowd over there.
As I was running haphazardly, I stumbled upon a boy. I just turned around to see who he was ? To my surprise he was my long lost friend. He was shabily dressed. I had seen him after years.
That moment, that very moment, I can't even describe how much relief it had to see a face that I recognized, a friend in the large crowd of unknowns and only unknowns. His expressions told he too was shocked to see me. May be he wanted to say something to me.
But before he could tell me anything, I just ran towards him and hugged him tightly. Tears rolled down from my eyes. I felt as if I have unburdened myself after ages. I didn't want to leave him. He was my treasure. He too was quite surprised by my gesture but then he hugged me back as he came out of his shock zone.
Just then I saw that man standing behing my friend. He smiled at me with the same cuningness as he had few minutes ago. We both stared at him. I was not scared anymore now but I was still worried, quite worried, for me and now for my friend as well.
" What that man is upto? Why can't he leave us alone ?" , constant thoughts were going on in my mind. I wanted to take my friend and run away from there. His smile was dangerous as if his task has been acomplished. As if hugging my friend deeply was my mistake and he would prove it to be a major mistake. The public which never gave it ear to me would listen to him. May be trust him as well. I and my friend stood still in between the crowd.
" Its time for tea ", my mother called from the kitchen. Her voice broke me from my sleep. It was a scary dream. I felt paralytic for sometime. But then I woke up and thanked God that it was merely a dream. I freshened up myself and went to have my morning tea.
Although it was just a dream, it did leave a sense of numbness behind.
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