Mom and Dad went back three days ago.
Before Leaving Noida
We went to the station to see them off. Just wifey and I. The dog refused to go. All the time they were here she felt like a second-grade member of the family and more than twice she bared her fangs at Mom. I don’t blame the dog nor her grouse against Mom, who took possession of her sofa, barred her from sleeping in the bed, and never allowed the dog to lick her plate clean. Which dog can forgive such a meddler?
So the dog refused to see them off.
But the two of us were there at the station. Honestly, Mom and Dad didn’t need our assistance, their luggage did. Mom had been a busy shopper-ant while she was here, and in her two month long visit, she had acquired six new suits, four new saris, three ugly brass vases, and a bag full of gifts that she could’ve bought in any city in India, including hers.
At New Delhi Railway Station
But let me take you to the station straight away. (That would be the New Delhi Railway station. If someone shot a top-view picture of it – it would look like a cookie-crumb being attacked by a million ants at once!)
At the platform, Mom sighed, “Puttar (Son), I wish we could’ve stayed longer.”
Wifey and I exchanged looks. I jumped in to save the conversation from wifey’s retort.
“Mom, you are anyway coming back in December… for Honey’s wedding,” I said. Dad tut-tuted in the background.
“What Ji?” Mom turned her attention to Dad.
“Nothing,” Dad hastily retracted his tut-tuts. He couldn’t let Mom know that he was sympathetic to our plight.
Fate intervened in form of the train. Shatabdi Express pulled into the station, and the ants at once attacked all its unopened doors, sticking to them with an invisible glue, wanting to be the first ones inside. The fact that Shatabdi is a fully reserved train which doesn’t carry extra-passengers, didn’t matter. Jagah lena (taking our place) is an Indian trait, that we don’t and won’t give up, Shatabdi or Airplane, we always want to be the first ones inside…taking our place!
Mom, as always was a front-runner, dad and I brought up the rear. Wifey, after having touched their feet with lightening speed, had removed herself to a less-crowded area of the platform. The three of us jostled with other similarly charged passengers, trying to ensure that Mom was among the first few inside the coach. After some shoves, a few pushes, and a final heave, she was on the train. Once the first and the most inspired group of passengers was inside, the doorway cleared. Dad, I, and Mom’s luggage followed.
Inside the Shatabdi Express
Once they had settled inside, Mom switch to her caring-mother-mode.
“Puttar, eat well. Every time I see you, you look thinner,” she entreated.
“Teri votti tera khayal nahi rakhdi hai, sookhi roti tey arhal di dal,(Your wife doesn’t care for you, dry unleavened bread and lentils,) that food isn’t fit for a horse,” she complained.
“And what is this nonsense? In December, you give me the good news, or else..” she threatened.
Dad foresaw the impending clash of the titans, and jumped in. “Having a child is their personal decision.” My spirits lifted. At least Dad understood. Then he completed his sentence. “And when they couldn’t do it in ten years, how do you think they can do it in two months?” My spirits crashed.
It was right at that moment that I heard the whistle of the train. It was a sign from God. I was granted bail!
I dipped to touch Mom’s feet. Dad is a military man and doesn’t like his feet to be touched, so he thumped my back before I rushed out of the train and jumped on the platform, just a few seconds before the train started moving.
After The Train Left
Wifey and I waved to Mom and Dad. Then we turned to look at each other, suddenly realizing that it had been a while that we had seen each other properly.
It took a moment for the feeling to sink in.
– We were now free – until December!
– We could hold hands, sit with our feet up on the sofa!
– Eat non-greasy boring food!
– Order a pizza!
– we could go back and tell the dog that the house was hers now…until December!
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