The Human Bond on a Vikram Ride

I stood on the lane that stretched out to the exit gate of the Shanti kunj Gayatri Ashram, Haridwar. Unaware of a standard Indian height man right before her she ran into me and almost let my phone fall off my hands. I readily turned towards her to see who could be so stupid! She was all sorry and apologetic. I had no reason to be angry. I am generally not. She walked away, I did so too.
I looked for an auto or a vikram to take me back to Har ki Paudi. In a five minute time I found a vikram that was all set to take me, provided all other seats were filled up. We gotta wait.
Look who has come, there comes she again. Taking the seat before me, beaming right into my being, her eyes compassionate and demeanor homely. She had perhaps forgotten me in this gap of 20 mins. After all who cares to remember such a short stint in one of the epicenters of the great Indian crowd? But, she hadn’t forgotten, I felt good. In fact attached, as if world was really small and all beings knew each other.
She was vocal, she asked me to confirm if I was the same guy who she had run into few minutes back. I nodded in agreement. My smile constant and unaffected by the honking vikrams passing by. She was remarkably inquisitive about me. She had many questions for me. I felt special. I answered all her queries. I told I had come from Delhi, but didn’t belong there. I enjoyed two days of week off unlike most in India who had just a Sunday in the face of week off. So, I would pack my backpack with dirty clothes and wear even dirtier ones (why waste clean clothes in an unknown land when you can wear those for Monday morning office). I traveled because I liked travelling. Traveled alone because I liked it that way, when I didn’t have the right companion or group. Traveled alone because the agenda of travel is not always to have fun. Traveled alone because sometimes all alone, it’s so much fun.
Now, it was my turn to shoot questions. She said she was from Chhattisgarh. Where in Chhattisgarh? Jagdalpur. By now my curiosity and joy was swelling. In life it’s interesting to note how places you have never been seem and sound like nectar to your ears. As if you always knew that land, as if you owned certain things there. As if there stayed people who revered you, loved you. The short and logical answer that explains the curiosity and joy upon hearing the names of these places is that you knew people who belonged to those places, those people who you loved and they loved you back.
I still enquired, where in Jagdalpur? Near to Moti talab para. This question somewhat sounded cheesy to her and she retorted with a top up of enquiry more than inquisitiveness in her voice. She asked, did I belong to Jagdalpur? No, my good friend is from Jagdalpur.
In the last two minutes I was thinking more about Jagdalpur and the people I knew from Jagadalpur. I realized I was barely appreciating the attention of this woman and almost engrossed imagining the streets and nooks and crannies of this small town. The school, where it would have been located, how kids would have conveyed to the school, by cycle, on foot, dads took them to schools on scooters or rickshaws? The days of rain and the wintery nights, how would all things be in that place, what sort of houses people had and what rituals and beliefs they followed. How school going girls tackled senior boys in the streets and how big brothers came to rescue. I wished I knew everything.
By now our power packed Vikram had cruised its bumpy ride in to the city. I was out from my imaginary rummaging of Jagdalpur. She alighted a mile before Har ki Puadi. I wished to make a last eye contact. I avoided.
She made a slow movement out of the vikram, she was almost sixty and her husband who sat beside her was perhaps her age or a few years senior.
She left with him and I left with the vikram.

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2 comments

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Jigyasa Singh June 18, 2018 at 12:45 pm

An engaging read and how beautifully you managed to hook the readers with the minutest of details you shared! Refreshing.

Madhav
Madhav June 19, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Many thanks. Your words are encouraging

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