Ride Back Home

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Kumbakonnam is a small town some 300 kilometres from Chennai. Diya had to get her ‘Mottai’ (shaving the head bald). My folks left at around 2 PM from this dusty small town for Bangalore. I stayed back because I had to head to Chennai for work and of course a social trip was always on the cards.

So after a few pegs of Grants scotch whiskey, I flicked from my friend I headed to the bus terminus to catch the next bus to Chennai. I managed a small village bus which headed some place on NH45 for me to take another bus to Chennai. There weren’t any direct buses.

So off I was in this bus which rattled more than it moved and was playing Rajnikanth movies in full volume. The bus was more or less empty and everyone had a place for their own. The bus soon stopped at a village where a horde of school students boarded.

Something about village school students; half their clothes were torn, a very few wore shoes or slippers, their bags had more stiches than cloth and were unkempt.

A girl came and sat next to me; she smelt of coconut oil and coffee. She had a long braid, all the way down to her knees; and I was guessing she was not more than 14 years old. She had round pleasing dark face and super white teeth. If Colgate needed a model, she was her.

She gave a sheepish smile to me, as I was playing with my phone GPS trying to figure out where I was. I guess she was truly fascinated, and wanted a closer look. I showed it to her.

She exclaimed, “That’s my school!” While I was enjoying her excitement I was also half worried not to be hounded by a bunch of school kids who would want to play with the expensive piece of hardware.

I asked her what her favourite subjects were. “Mathematics and social studies!” she said. “Algebra is my favourite; my teacher always asks me to solve the problems on the board. I am always first in class in Mathematics. But I don’t like Tamil one bit. Why should I learn all the boring poems by heart? Just because someone thinks its intellectual, why do I have to suffer?”

She went for a while about social studies too. I eventually figured she was in 9th grade; and was gearing up for board exams next year. The other kids were now looking at us, especially me; the new friend the girl had made.

We stopped in between at a village, and a guy selling popcorn boarded. I bought two; one for each one of us. She went on about her school and family as she munched the whole packet down; and then took mine as well without even asking me. I liked her style.

From the time she was a kid, she had been told to get married and one day be a good house wife. Here was a girl who wanted to make something out of what she had and make the most of it. She was doing just that. From the ramblings of math to her parents and the time when she was almost married off to a geezer; I think she just wanted to talk. Popcorn does crazy things.

Obviously tired, she held on to my hand and rested her head on my shoulder and went to sleep while she was still rambling. It was weird and awkward in many ways how a little girl could get so comfortable with a stranger whose name she did not know. I guess she just had a lot in her mind that day. As she slept peacefully for a whole hour, and made oil stains all over my shirt I swear she was smiling. Maybe, good things would happen to her soon. I hope they do. For it would be a crime to confine a heart with so many dreams and aspirations in walls of tradition which no longer have any significance.

Her stop had come, and she woke up with a jolt and got off the bus. I was looking out of the window; as she was waving to me. I just smiled; there is a god in all of us after all.

I had also missed my stop somewhere way back and was back on my GPS trying to figure out the next route and bus to board.

20 Responses to “Ride Back Home”

  1. Arjun NairNo Gravatar says:

    Vinni does it again….
    Awesome read…

  2. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    @Arjun: Thanks man! :) Always good going back to the roots
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  3. GayatriNo Gravatar says:

    very very well written :) beautiful!

  4. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    @Udita, @Gayatri: Thank you. Am glad you like my posts!
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  5. NirupamaNo Gravatar says:

    Nice post Big B!! Surely was a memorable bus ride, wasn’t it?

  6. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    @Shail: Thanks! A first time commenter is always a pleasure!
    @Princess: It was one really really memorable ride! Totall!
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  7. bcwNo Gravatar says:

    Nice post brother! And I totally agree on the ‘well-written’ part of comments before mine. But the day a 14 year old from rural tamilnadu holds the hand of a stranger in the bus and sleeps on his shoulder (however harmless he looks!) is surely the day I denounce any knowledge of what it is to be a teenage girl in a small TN town (which ironically I have been). Trust me. They are taught from a very early age to avoid sitting near even their father or brother.

    You are now sounding like Chetan Bhagat - loads of reality with one spurt of impossibility. May be you should have said 7 years old. But this? Unless the girl had a serious problem (in which case she wouldn’t have been let out of the house), or you took a trip into a parallel universe, NO FREAKING WAY!

  8. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    @BCW: You read it right. Well you know how we are all allowed to take creative liberties? :)

    Thanks for the comment. was fun reading it ! You dont comment often unless cajoled and threatened!
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  9. bcwNo Gravatar says:

    I should clarify that I was neither cajoled nor threatened for any of my comments in this blog then :-) I comment only when the post asks for it ;-)

  10. pri_k_No Gravatar says:

    Really nice read. Very light hearted but an enduring msg.

    It’s sad that girls today, despite the progress, have little say when it comes to choosing a partner. Village girls and society girls face more or less similar situations. Nonetheless it’s great to know her parents are sending her to school and not packing her off, just yet.

    Also, the innocences she possesses, to trust a total stranger shocks me. She was lucky! In todays world trusting your neighbor is dangerous. Shows the simplicity and honesty in her.

    Very nice post :)

  11. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    Pri_K (I wish I knew your name, really)

    Thanks for the review. It was an enduring ride back home for her. For me home is Mumbai.

    Keep blogging!
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  12. Anita RaiNo Gravatar says:

    This was really very very good and amazing and very well written comments especially the way you have described that girl, her innocence and her honesty.

  13. HarsheyNo Gravatar says:

    This is one of your best posts!

  14. VinniNo Gravatar says:

    @Anita: Thanks a lot! Its the comments that keep us going!
    @Harshey: Thanks man! You are one really loyal reader! Thanks! Hope you are on my RSS as well!
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  15. hey, that made for a good read. There is so much girls want to do these days, shine , rise and change things around them but sadly only a few can get the freedom they rightfully deserve.

    Keep writing.

  16. vinniNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the comment Piyush! Glad you liked the post!
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  17. PurbaNo Gravatar says:

    Chuckled mostl, nice read.. But it’s amazing how that girl found her comfort zone with you. I guess your fancy mobile did the trick :)

  18. vinniNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Purba,

    Actually some of my posts hinge on fiction and reality. Glad you liked the post :)

    Vinni


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