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Howrah Station at night. Google images

“What? You haven’t left your office yet? When will we go to Baba’s house?” Surabhi, Raju’s mother, was angry with her husband, Abhijit.

“I am stuck up, Sona. Don’t worry! Whatever be the time I shall take you guys there tonight. Please don’t be angry. ” Abhijit pleaded. But Surabhi had hung up. He knew he was going to have bad time at home.

***

“I don’t think we will make it today. Your Jamaida is still in office. I don’t know when we will start for Baba’s house?” Surabhi said little worried.

“Calm down Didi. When he had said he will take us there, then why do you worry so much?”Madhavi replied.

“Oh! Tham toh! You and your Jamaida. You guys are made of what, I don’t know. It’s already 4.00pm and we have still not started yet. Do you know what time we will reach there?” Surabhi said.

“Hmm. Around mid night or so? But we have already told Nilesh that we are coming today. So what is the problem? If not all, he will be awake to open the gate of the house.” Madhavi said.

“I am not worried about the gate dear. I am afraid of the area. It is so deserted after 8:00p.m only and imagine we will be reaching there by midnight. Will it be safe for us to carry so much gold ornaments along? What if we are attacked?” Surabhi shared her fears.

Bah Re! If we don’t wear ornaments in marriage, then when will we wear them, Didi? We have to take them along. Don’t worry we will be safe.” Madhavi assured.

Durga Durga!”Surabhi chanted.

In Madhavi’s family her elder sister, Surabhi, was always anxious and worried of even little things. And if she had nothing to worry about, then it would be her biggest worry. So the family teased her and nick named her as Chintamoni.

***

“It is my Dadu’s house, why would you go there?” Misry asked angrily.

Duth Boka! It is my Dadu’s house too. You forgot we are cousins.” Raju explained her.

“So Dadu will share the goodies and stories with you too?” Misry was bewildered.

Her Daddy had not told her about that. She had imagined she was the only grandchild who will own the sole proprietorship over her Dadu and his love. But she was meeting one stake holder here.

“Yes and I am not the only one. Dia and Ria are also there. But Dadu loves me more than anyone else as I am the eldest grandchild.” Raju laughed on her face.

Misry was speechless. She had heard of Ria and Dia but were they stake holders too? Oh My God! What will be left of the shared goodies then? Daddy didn’t mention that too? He only spoke of fun she would have with her cousins there. He didn’t mention anything about sharing.  She was little worried now!

The seed of rivalry was already sown. It shall be reaped when the time comes.

***

“Surabhi! Come on be quick we will be late.” Abijit said waiting near the Taxi.

“Look who is talking.” Surabhi replied checking the lock on the gate for the sixth time.

“How many times more will you check? You have locked the gates yourself and mind it is Harrison lock! So don’t worry. Please board the taxi now.” Abhijit teased.

Surabhi made a face at her husband and sat down in the Taxi.

The taxi drove them straight to the Howrah railway station.

“Raju ! Don’t leave Misry’s hand and Misry don’t leave Ma’s hand. Okay?” Abhijit instructed.

Misry nodded.

Jamaida, we have too many luggage, let’s take the help of a porter.” Madhavi said.

Aaare! Don’t you worry when your Jamaida is here!” Abhijit never left a chance to flatter himself in front of his sister in-laws. And they enjoyed it too.

He asked the ladies to move on and started picking up the luggage all by himself. Raju extended his help but Abhijit was all showing off and refused to take help. By the time they boarded the local train, Abhijit was badly panting but he didn’t want to show.

The train moved towards its destination.

Misry sat near the window watching the platforms, people, city, field and everything passing by. She was very excited. Luckily the compartment was more or less vacant, other than passengers there were few food hawkers too doing business. Raju kept himself busy, eating whatever came his way right from sweet candy, Jhaal muri, badam etc. Surabhi was alert as usual clutching her handbag tightly.  She sat occupying the entire seat making sure nobody gets a chance to sit beside her. Abhijit sat across Madhavi chit chatting all the way. Their topics moved from politics to film fare. Both were screaming in less than ten minutes. It was typical of them. Putting across their views and getting it accepted was more important for both of them rather than listening to each other’s view. This time their agenda was what was on the menu card in Amitabh Bachchan’s house party and they fought hard with their verbal blows as if they both had attended the party.

***

“See! Didn’t I tell you it will be deserted as hell? Durga Durga!” Surabhi was already panicking getting down in the small station of the sleepy town where her parents lived.

Oh Didi, Tham Toh! See if we can get any cycle rickshaw to reach home.” Madhavi snapped.

“You guys wait here. I will see.” Abhijit said.

The platform was deserted. Other than few dogs and beggars sleeping on the platform there was not a soul to watch out for and the big clock on the exit gate showed half past midnight.

Misry was very sleepy and cold too.

“Ma when will we reach Dadu’s house?” She asked yawning.

“Sweetie just few minutes more.” Madhavi replied.

“Few more minutes? Not less than half an hour and if we don’t get a cycle rickshaw then God knows what will we do. It’s all because of your Jamida.

Offf Didi Tham Toh!” Madhavi hissed.

Abhijit returned in a short while. They boarded two cycle rickshaws to ride home. The lanes were deserted too and dimly lit as the rickshaw paddled all the way to Dadu’s farm house.

Finally it stopped in front of a very narrow lane off the road. It was pitch dark around. Other than the small lamp burning on the handle of the cycle rickshaw there was no light. They got off the rickshaw but had to wait on the road. The narrow lane leading to the gate of the house had ditch on the either side, so it was dangerous to walk in the dark.

Mama Mama O Mama!” Raju yelled from the road.

Slowly, the house lit up with lanterns. The gate opened and an old man came out with a torch light in his hand.

“Come my children come. Here see the light be careful! There is no electricity at the moment. Just watch your steps.” He was chirping cheerfully, behind him stood the entire family to welcome them.

Baba you are still awake?” Madhavi said touching his feet.

“Awake? I have made three trips to the railway station already since the evening for you guys. Where is my Didibhai?” The old man asked looking for Misry.

Misry appeared from behind her mother and looked up at the old man. He looked so very different from the photographs in the album back at her home. His silver hair was replaced by milky white hair, he was tall and lean and his teeth were missing too.

Ki Didibhai, How are you? Do you remember me?” Dadu asked giving her a toothless smile.

Pranam Koro.” Madhavi softly instructed Misry.

Misry quickly bent down and touched the old man’s feet. He picked her up in his lap and tried to kiss her cheek. Misry backed off as Dadu’s unshaven white beard tickled her.

He laughed and took her inside the house. Others followed behind.

Misry kept changing laps from one person to another. She was visiting them after a long time. Everybody was so excited that the house was suddenly alive in the dead of the night.

“What would you eat Misry?” Dida asked. Though it was very late at night rather too early in the morning, the old lady knew the child must be hungry.

Before Madhavi could say no, Misry expressed her desire to eat chiwda Bhaja.

The old lady didn’t wait for a minute for any help. Since their kitchen was at the other end of the courtyard outside the house, she lighted a stove in the living room itself and quickly made the dish for Misry.

When she handed a bowl full to Misry, the little girl ate it to her fill.

Madhavi thought, “When will you GROW UP MESSY.”

*****

Glossary*                            Baba- father

Sona- darling            Jamaida- Sister’husband                 Didi- Elder sister

Tham toh – just stop                                      Bah Re- Good                     Duth Boka- fool

Dadu – Maternal grandfather                            Mama- mother’s brother       

 Dida – maternal grandmother

chiwda Bhaja – Deep fried rice flakes.

 

26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.

You can read the other post in the series here.

 

 

 

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