"As soon as I saw you , I knew a great adventure was about to happen" - Winnie the pooh
in continuation of –metamorphosis
We spent our days biting chapatis into the likeness of the sign on Batman’s chest and watching a TV show called ‘Shaktimaan’ . A convent school we were enrolled into. While I ventured into the scholarly and eruditely world without having shed a drop of tear, Both of my siblings spilled out Ganges and Thames from their eye sockets.
A grandfather , daadaji , who isn’t that good at hearing , would giggle at our frolics. Cats we had in plenty , who pooped on the cushions in plenty . We were literally manhandlers , slaughterers of animals. I once , along with the ape soaked a new born puppy in wintery cold water in an attempt to have him hallowed of all canine sins.
Non vegetarian food , however was, and is barred from the thresholds, pure Brahmins that we are. The youngest uncle used to feed our dog Dabbu on hens and chickens to man him up. He , however came to be as good as any other dogs we tamed over the years to follow. Once ran clenching my red underpants with his teeth.
All this while , we grew up , slightly. It was time to leave.
6 : EXODUS
A train called Rajdhani express awaited us at the railway station . My first train journey while in full awareness of the whereabouts was about to begin. It was a fully air-conditioned train. Our kinsmen bid us goodbye and we left our home , the fecund land of Nainital , the land of the gods. Daadi wept at home. The ape was left all alone.
I wasn’t sure of whether the train was actually moving and confirmed it by standing on the floor. Ohhh… Yesssss , it moved , like a serpent. A stewardess fetched me a tray of candies and I shyly picked one , and though I didn’t see it , I’m sure mummy would have smiled from ear to ear. Nevertheless , we moved on , to new beginnings.
Around two days later , we were in Patna , the spittoon of the devil. The city was smeared with paan spittle.
All this while I hadn’t been in knowledge of any of it. My father was taking us with him to his regiment. I had hoped it would be just a trip for a few days. They hadn’t told me under fear of any misdemeanour or perhaps even riot and arson from my part as I was Daadi’s favourite.
As we neared the army quarters , sitting in an army vehicle , the cream-coloured buildings , I asked , for cautionary reasons – ” is Daadi there ? we’re going to Daadi’s , aren’t we? “ . Everyone replied in the affirmative , even the driver and the young army helpers.
We were chauffeured with our luggage to our new army house , with no Daadi nor any ape sister to pick the ponytail of. The beginning of a new epoch it was for us.
I had been in an army quarter before, at Rajasthan , when I was born, but that was all beyond and memory. Actually , I had even been to Nepal without any comprehension of it at all , in my mother’s lap.
Our house was on the top storey of a two-storied block with four houses in all . The ground storey houses had their own garden as well. The house immediately below us was empty . It was large locality with Blocks encompassing a big enough park . Ours was at a solitary corner of the locality. Across from us on the top storey lived a Moslem family with two children , both older than us and often used to block the stairs with their carrom-board set while enjoying their game and it really became an austerity just to climb down the stairs. Anyhow , we bided our time with them.
I and my elder brother both were enrolled into a school called Army School . On the very first day of my school , two men on a bike claimed me to be their ward and said they’d come to fetch me. I was walking to them readily just when a neighbourhood uncle arrived on his cycle.
Soon we had our friend circles and life was abloom. I had two friends and both were natives of Patna I suspected. We played cricket, hung on jhoolas and scraped the rust off slides with the bottoms of our knickers. At evenings we’d go running to and hug each other like brothers long lost as it was in movies.
There were a few things we did first upon settling in the new city. As soon as we get our legs back under us , a Television set was purchased right away and then a tutor was hired for my dimwitted brother. The tutor was a lean young man in his twenties who came on a bicycle everyday and wore a cap forever on his head. He was given a shiny curved cane of wood the length of a hand-span by our mother to torture him with. I peeped through the curtains as the cane-wielding tutor sat on the table with scrutinizing eyes encumbering the pale pupil afront of him who desperately tried to get his tremulous fingers to work.
Right below our house , was the haunted house , on the ground storey. It was rumored to have been possessed by spirits and none had ever been into it. The garden was ruined and the fence was broken. There was a certain window with a shattered pane through one day I peered within and proclaimed in an eerie tone – ” there’s a photograph , tucked at the bottom of a mirror hanging off a wall. A red lady stares out of it”.
The thinnest kid eased himself in through the bars and confirmed our suspicions without actually going near the picture. The craven merely went in and then climbed back feverishly out through the bars under the fear of forfeiting his bums to the ghost.
In fate’s own sweet time , our neighbours got posted away somewhere else and my mother displayed an ardent desire for gardening and insisted on moving to the ground floor – into the haunted house , which according to her was much cooler than the top storey.
Despite our fear and resistance , the homemaker’s will prevailed and much to my chagrin , the doors of the accursed dwelling were opened loose for us.
By this time , I was in first grade and had met She-who-must-not-be-named , the first creature that incited the buds of tender amorous sensations in the chambers of my puerile little heart.
The new primary wing I’d been promoted to wasn’t half as cool as the pre-school. There was no tricycle room.
I became adept at academic studies and my nimble , genius mind stunned every single one of the teachers.
By the time the half yearly exams ended and the result was announced – I had scored a perfect hundred percent !! and the world just looked like a bra strap waiting to be snapped.
read further – Retreat
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