(Don’t read if you have not set some of your quality time, aside)
“You won’t be finding as many super-fast minis as you normally do”, said my dad over the phone. “But there won’t be a complete halt on transportation services”, he added.
It was Friday. Not today, November the 25th, but the previous one.
All he said above was an information regarding the day next, which was a Saturday that proved later to have come in a full package.
But wait. Let me first introduce you to the situations that were going on at that moment.
Our story begins from the day; I emphasize again, “the day”, since it is a day worth historic importance.
It was the day, 8th of November, 2016. It was the day when a single announcement got the all citizens of India, irrespective of the wealthy and the poor, stand on the same platform.
Yes, you might have guessed it right. It was the announcement of de-monetization of the currency notes of 500 and 1000 INR.
Wealth quickly got a new definition by the possession of the number of lower-value currency notes by any Indian citizen. The greater that number, the wealthier you are. At least on one point of view.
And that felt nice. Even if for a moment.
But, on the practical ground that signifies curbing the expenses in an attempt to preserve the lower value currency for expenses that are unavoidable.
As if this was not enough; something dangerous was awaiting us, unknowingly.
One fine Friday morning, our domestic help entered the pump-room for her scheduled chores, only to find fire. She raised an alarm and the fire was put out. But the accident accosted us the fuse of the ground floor and also the need to re-invest in the water pumps, not to mention the loss of the tap-ready water supply. We did not know for how long.
For the moment, I had the following things to consider:
- I had not seen my parents for quite some time, and both of us, my parents back in my hometown and I, at my current city, were counting the days when we can finally be together.
- The next day was the Saturday of the West Bengal by-elections. Transportation would be scanty, but not dead, as was indicated by my dad.
- I have an engagement few days later a week.
- AND… I am to be away for a week at my parents’. And I will notcompromise with this.
I usually visit my parents together with my husband. With his weekdays completely occupied by his profession, we are left with only the weekends to attempt the visit. Other things got the better of priority in each of the weekends, with the probability of my visiting the hometown consistently pushed back for a later date.
By the time we reached the “Friday of the Fire”, my parents had already dealt with my growing insistence to visit them all by myself, more than once. Well, I eventually did not do what I insisted to, but I had let everyone know that in lieu of the long interval, my duration of stay at my parents’ would be no lesser than a week. After all, I am the one, un-employed. And thus, I do not face the threats of unpaid leave.
When calculations were made, considering all the above, it was found that, against all odds, THIS weekend should be THE WEEKEND, and the forthcoming week should be THE WEEK.
When resources are limited, it’s better to limit the consumption too, I reflected. Temporary arrangements for water last longer for two than for four.
I had finally found a favorable wind on my sails.
D – DAY: THE DAY YOU ARE LOOKING OUT FOR
I remained awake and preoccupied till very late at night.
In the morning, we could not start the journey before 8:25. We missed the ferry, as well as the train, and there was no vehicle scheduled earlier than 30 minutes, for each case. We were running late.
We knew who was to blame, but the husband never uttered a thing. We even had a lively conversation going all along the train journey.
Sometimes I really admire the way he is. Sometimes I feel like I am falling in love with him all over again.
But these are only part of the symptoms of the immense-unmeasurable (-and-every-other-possible-adjective) happiness I feel every time I visit my hometown. The world suddenly turns into the best place to live in.
We had got off the train. At the bus stop adjacent the station, possibilities looked sluggish and scarce. About a fifth of the normal number of total passengers, and the number of buses combined with their frequency, roughly a half of that fifth. We also found the small-scale hawkers at the station, missing. Only the taxi-drivers seemed proactive than ever. As if, the public, sales and transport scenario under the influence of de-monetization, catalyzed with the by-elections unveiled before us, all of a sudden, and in a degree too obvious.
As we approached the buses, one of the conductors noticed us. Sensing our hesitation to board on the already overcrowded bus, he promised us to avail seats. We decided to give it a try.
As he made room for two seats, one middle-aged woman, who was already aboard, spotted it and started to approach. Be it for the sudden turn of incidents, or for the judgement that as a boarder, she should have a fair chance for a seat, I chose to be quiet. After all, she was closer to the seats.
Whenever we face such kinds of situations, we let the other get the better of it, unless we are directly provoked. We avoid making public quarrels.
However, the conductor prevented her, and she started to abuse him.
As we sat face to face, I began to feel bad.
What happened to us was out of sheer luck, but it was not fair. We had done nothing to deserve the seats.
“The conductor is a person of his words” I told my husband later. “But he got ill-treated.”
“All of us are facing the same problem. We couldn’t have done anything on our part at that moment.” He tried to solace.
However, I never find true condolence, true inspiration… or whatever it is, unless and until I have found a reason on my own.
My seat was opposite to that of the bus-driver. So, his windshield was functioning as the window at my left. And the view through the wide-screen was amazing. As I watched the unending roads ahead and the people, the animals, the greens and everything that constituted the sunny day, and as I took the warmth of the sunrays coming through, into my soul that felt thirstier than ever, it felt like I was in a long-drive. I realized how much I was missing a “vacation”.
My husband and I, did actually have a plan to spend a few days of early October at the northern mountains of Bengal and Sikkim. It included the two holidays my husband usually gets on the occasion of Durga Puja, the greatest festival of the Bengals.
We go on vacations very rarely – may be once or twice in a year, so you might understand how much we were awaiting the days.
By the time the day of departure came to us, we had a senior member of our extended family, whom we regard as more than just a guardian, succumbing to a major illness, and was in a very critical state. We are not cold-blooded. So, we naturally, had the plan postponed.
As the bus continued to race through the streets, as I dived further into my introspective mode, and as I pondered over the subject of my next blogs, it suddenly struck my head – the conductor knew he could lose us to the taxis… “Oh! He was just minding his “business”… why would I even remain stuck to the abusing?”
“I was not considering the whole picture”, I concluded.
The journey seemed never-ending. We arrive at my parents’, usually by three hours. It was past hour four, and I could take it no more.
I had missed my parents during the entire period of the Pujas.
The concept behind the Durga Puja itself is enough to stir up a host of emotions, especially in married women. The ritual is based on the home-coming of a daughter to her homeland for a few days. So you see, I barely need to explain. But, this year the Pujas came at a time our family was in the middle of a crisis – we had a member severely ill, and fighting for his life.
Durga Puja followed, on the full moon of the same fortnight, by the Puja of Laxmi, whom the Hindus worship as the goddess of wealth. The mistress(s) of a family is/are looked upon as the harbinger(s) of wealth and prosperity in it. Therefore, they customarily spend the day together. So did I.
And so it went… on and on.
How much more to overcome?
I was nearing my destination every second, but every hour felt like decades.
It was only much after 1 in the afternoon, that we finally entered my parents’ home.
THE EVENING AHEAD
I was adamant.
“All the day’s shows are starting after 6”, I checked from the web. “It is quite presumable that the by-elections will no longer have a significant impact by then. And the organizers surely wouldn’t want to incur loss. They know their business”. I tried to apply knowledge from my experience earlier in the day.
“Our show is at 6:50. If I consider non-availability of transport, we must start out at 4:30.”
My parents continued to warn that it would be late during our return, and that nothing seemed safe overall.
“But I can’t miss watching “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” on-screen”, I retorted. “We can’t miss this opportunity.”
My parents were still concerned.
“Ok then, we will set out at 4:30; if transport is available we will go to the Mall, else we visit the riverside”, I almost bargained.
All this time the husband said nothing more than a “yes”, or “no”, because he was busy relishing the delicious lunch cooked by his mother-in-law.
On my part, due to the wide interval between meals, my appetite had reached to a point of premature-demise.
With my smart phone in my left hand, and food in my right, I was playing the perfectly un-smart non-stop chatter box at the table.
“May be I should join you”, my dad initiated as evening approached.
“It will help on your journey back”, my mom added, but she herself preferred to stay back at home, when we asked her out.
We ventured out as planned. To our amazement, we also found a bus about to leave the depot.
“This is the last bus of this route for the day.” We heard someone say.
As we occupied the seats I discovered that it was the same bus we had availed in the morning.
The world is round. We meet, detach, and meet again.
We couldn’t be more thankful for the timing of our departure.
“It was all MY idea”, I boasted. And so we went, laughing among ourselves, and hurling jokes at each other.
As we were again on our feet over the streets, we found an ATM that had some people lining up a small queue. It was an indication that this specific machine, unlike the others, was still functioning.
We had our ATM cards with us. It was about 5:15pm. We had a lot of time up our sleeves. As you might be thinking, we did not let it go wasted.
“Maximum transaction 2000” read a sign board in the front. It felt like the mosquitoes too, didn’t want the chance to draw blood, go wasted. We were drawing our currency and they were drawing theirs.
Not a single person was standing steadily; the mosquitoes ensured we were always on the move.
“What’s wrong with the sewer drains”, I wondered, staring at the adjacent ones. “Doesn’t the municipality ever take measures to kill the larvae? Even in the market of the by-election campaigns?”
The mall was off by only 7-10 minutes of walking distance.
I couldn’t stand the stench of the sewers. We quickly walked off the distance.
The ticket counter at the box office was crowded with people. While my husband took the task of getting the tickets amidst the chaos, my father and I scanned the mall down to locate the probable destinations for supper.
All the three of us had Onion-dosa at the Hangouts. It was a neat recipe.
When we headed for the movie hall, it was almost 6:45.
We found our seats at the middle of the hall. But the seats were majorly empty. English movies or the fantasy-based movies still do not have a significant audience of sorts at Haldia.
The movie was very engaging right from the beginning; there was always a pleasing twist in the story. But before we could be completely immersed in the movie, some people on my left started to argue over petty issues. They seemed to be under the influence of some “magic potions”, that transformed them into “fantastic” beasts of the “mortal realm” (or so described my husband later), and seemed to be attending the show only because the tickets of another movie got sold out. Their argument dropped to such a level that the security, who usually we never find to be present, had to arrive and intervene.
Never in our lives before had we experienced such nonsense in a movie hall. We were irritated. We left the seats we had paid for, for the seats that had less of the arguing people.
And I led our trio to the top-level seats. “It’s a boon in disguise”, my naughty-self justified.
By the time we left the Mall, it was around 9:15.
We didn’t find much transport available and thus started walking back.
My dad is not much familiar with the details of J. K. Rowling’s creations, I am only a little ahead him in this matter, while my husband knows every minute detail.
“The story is actually designed to be pre-sequenced to the Harry Potter series”, he said. “But unless you have read the stories, you wouldn’t enjoy as much as you could after reading them”, he observed.
“There’s a mention of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore…” He went on with the details which I couldn’t assimilate and therefore I fail to represent here.
I wanted to add-in my observations too. “If it is pre-sequenced, then why has the movie been made later (should be amidst, to be more precise) the Harry Potter series?”
“It seems the story itself is based on the success of the Harry Potter world. Rowling knows very well what actually can grab the attention of readers. She had discovered her market base”, I answered my own question.
“Come on, she’s a billionaire”, said my husband. “Do you know any other person who got to be so, only by writing books? She’s got some talent. The percentage of the children of US, who actually read books had gone thwarted to a bare minimum, it was she who revved up the percentages into more than a mere restoration.”
“That thing sounds familiar to something in the movie, can you recall?” I asked.
“Just like Jacob’s bakery fell due to the introduction of machines, it can be imagined that the interest of reading books in the children of the modern society diminished due to the virtual world… the computer games, video games and the like.”
“As we saw towards the end of the movie, just like Jacob’s bakery sold like never before just for the incorporation of some imagination and creativity, so had happened in case of Rowling. Her books sold like never before just for the incorporation of unprecedented fantasy.”
“You see, you can always get to a pattern of the writer’s psychology through his/her creations”
I ended what seemed like a short speech.
This time it was my husband who did not seem to grasp what I just said. He scratched his head, “Whatever”.
I grinned to myself. Not always do I like to look like THE fool.
“I bet there will be a sequel of the “Fantastic Beasts” “, I announced, trying to sound even wiser. It was definitely clear that I was not much desirous of leaving the reins of enjoying the charm of feeling smart too soon. “You see, the Obscurial Credence could not be completely destroyed. Moreover, there seems to be an unfinished story between Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein”, I asserted.
We reached the main road, but found no transportation en route. My dad and my husband maintained their man-like cool, but my womanly impatience was increasingly overpowering the better of me with leaps of geometric progression. However, before matters got any worse, two more passengers joined us, and soon a car approached.
With a rate of 20 per head we safely reached our destination in no time. And that meant a total of 60 for the three of us.
I had told you I was preoccupied yester-night. But I didn’t mention the purpose. I actually was haunting down my closet for money that was now nothing more than “a piece of paper”. In the process, I had found an age-old 50 Rupees note. I did not feel certain whether that note was still in acceptance, although everyone assured that it was.
I had handed that note to my husband to get it gone. I heaved a sigh of relief as he added a 10 INR with it; he handed over to the cab driver and he took them without a sign of hesitation.
We found the sweets-stall still open, although it was preparing to close soon. We bought ice-creams, we were too happy to find our favorite flavors in stock. On top of that, the owner agreed to give change for 2000 INR. So we agreed to buy some more. We couldn’t be more grateful.
We had become “rich” in a moment. My husband quickly stashed the change into the depths of his wallet.
Through the pavements shrouded with trees, and under the starry winter night, we began to trace our way back home. And as I winked at the stars back, I wondered: What a day!
MORAL (This is your reward for your patience and interest for reading the entire story, and to demonstrate that it really happens):
What goes around comes around. Give your inputs to life, you will definitely be rewarded, tangible or not.