Summertime meant train rides with Ajji to my village in Malnad. We always took the 6 am train to Birur. For some reason, we never took the one directly to Shimoga. As much as I hate getting up early in the morning, I’d promptly be up at 4:45 am, set for the journey. We’d leave the house after listening to Ajja’s trip-instructions for the fifth time, which included everything from ‘eat well’ to ‘keep a watch on the weather’. I never got around to knowing how the latter was useful, or even how to do it. Everyone in the family would express concern about the fact that I’ll be under Ajji’s care, away from my parents for so long. But when I was with Ajji, nothing else in the world bothered me. People would ask if I pined for Amma or made a fuss about being with Ajji but these things just sounded stupid to me. Wherever Ajji went, I’d clobber along-like that Vodafone dog. I always wondered how Ajji dealt with a pesky child like me on the train. Not that I was particularly annoying, but a 6 year old kid isn’t exactly the company one would want on a daytime train journey.
Ajji always made it a point to speak to people on the train. By the time we reached Birur, we’d know the entire family history of the lady in front of us, and the itinerary of the man in the seat adjacent to ours. Every 20 minutes, she’d fish out something to eat. Our entire coach could be satisfied by the amount of food she’d pack- biscuits, chocolates, bread, bun, fruits and sometimes Avalakki too. She’d give in to my pestering and play “word-building” with me, sometimes involving the other passengers in my silly games too.
About a week ago, I travelled by train with my college-mates. We passed by Shimoga but didn’t get down. I made it a point to speak to people on the train. We played dumb charades and Mafia. I stayed up till 2 am speaking to the boy who told me how he wants to do something new every weekend, my watch was ‘retro’ and that I’m not a boring person over chips.
Ajji isn’t with me anymore, but I find her in beautiful people like the ones I met on the train, full of interesting stories. Ajji and I might not be in the same bogey now, but I’d like to think we’re still on the same track.
Deek 🙂 😀