Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Breaking Out ... Alone for the first time

I had just given madhyamik.

I was 16 exactly.

And had a 3 months gap in front of me

I wanted to go somewhere…somewhere alone.

Obviously there were huge obstacles….mom's tears and dad's precautionary NO. And to add to the injury there was my sister constantly teasing me as BABU which rightly said is a nickname my mom used to use but in this case became a pain in the arse.

i was adamant

More so because my mate Pat had been to odlabari all alone riding an intercity train which runs through the baikunthapur forest range and described me (with great deal of envy causing tone) the beauty of the journey...and it seemed to me like an adventure only shankar (of the fame of mountain of the moon) could achieve.

I was desparate.

I was eager and keen to show i am no kiddo.

I wanted to show the world that I too can take on those challenges.

Also the possible beauty of the road engrossed me...the simple train journey became like a hitch hiking adventure

and after much bickering
and a bit of water shedding
finally I got a nod from dad

Now when I look at it
After having traveled all the way to the other part of the world it looks kiddish to me. But then it was a small step which built up the hunger in me to look for the unknown. The journey wasn't a long one. It was only from Siliguri to farakka
where my uncle aunt and there two daughters stayed.

Dad was a railway service man. He got me a ticket in the second class sleeper on Kanchunjangha express. A train which will stop at farakka junction after 6 hours since the time it starts from NJP AKA New Jalpaiguri Station.

That day my dad didn’t take his cycle while going to the station which was his office too. He and I boarded a rickshaw from our home. I left home, my mom, didi and dadu back there standing at the doors. It was time to move on. It was time to face the world. As the rickshaw moved on along the roads of Siliguri I could still hear the chants of “Durga Durga” from my mom. I could see the pale face of my sister. And my dadu’s trembling hand giving ashirbad while I did a traditional pranam.

I was feeling weak. I was thinking of jumping from the rickshaw and running back to mom’s lap. The warmth of my dad beside me in the rickshaw reassured me. Dad was telling me how to face things. Those last minute suggestions you know. How never to talk to a stranger. How never to take anything from a stranger. And those instructions while were delivered to boost my morale were in a way denigrating it. But I didn’t chicken out. And How I thank god for giving me enough courage for not shitting in my pants while I alone in the platform waited for the train.

The train was late for 4 hours. I waited and waited. My dad came and went back to work. And all the time I was wishing dad should be there when the train comes. Or else this could be the last time I am seeing my dad.

It was supposed to happen at 12 O clock noon. It finally happened 4 pm. Dad was losing patience and asked me a few times to leave the plan and go home. I was determined to take it on. I was not a guy to chicken out. I had to prove to my own eyes to be a grown up.

When finally the train came, I boarded it, and watched back to my dad’s face. There was no worry. He was quite confident I would make it. He was worried alright for the time I would reach farakka, but then my uncle had given word that he would be there with his car at the station.

The train started. So did my loneliness. There were some people sitting along with me. A big fat marwari guy. Who could not frighten me much as I knew before he tries anything silly I could run away. There were a family with a small kid who was crying hard. I smiled at the kid, and told in my mind, “grow up kid, at least you are going with your mom!! Look at me…I am all alone in this world.”


Things got bad soon. We reached guisal. The famous train accident site! And the train stopped due to some signal failures. It was like amazing actually. A train a man made creation standing in a place from where, where ever you see you could only see miles and miles of paddy fields. I wanted to go down to look out and see the beauty. But parents’ words held me back.

I opened the window and felt the cool wind all over my body. It was giving me strength and suddenly I felt I have crossed 2 hours or 1/3rd of my journey already. Out of nowhere there were chai walas. I had a tea. And dozed off. Then when I woke up, the train had just started and it was 8pm in the night.

I wasn’t worried much. But I was thinking if my uncle could not manage to come at that late night what I would do. And thinking hard only did weaken my confidence. And slowly I left it at that.

It was growing darker. I never knew that even when it’s completely dark it still goes on to become even darker with time. It was something new I was learning with every moment and I was fascinated with life that was around me.


I opened my diary I had, and started scribbling something. This caused me to doze off very soon. I woke up with a shoulder jerk from someone!!

A stranger!!

A guy in mid forties with specs on, and looking like a TT was pushing me…

“Khoka, are you the son of Mr. PK Paul? The CRS of NJP?”

I was shell shocked…this guy knows it all!! Bloody hell what is he!!

Then I nodded and the guy was all smiles..”Don’t be afraid khoka…Your dad just wanted me to check out whether you are alright or not!”


I was thinking, “jeez dad!! You are embarrassing me in front of every one here!!”

And was reasonably annoyed at the same time I felt it funny too thinking about my dad pacing up and down from bedroom to drawing room in worry. And my mom sitting in a corner with an all gone face. And I knew how much they love me!

I reached farakka alright. At night 2 am. My uncle was there despite a storm warning. And in his 1972 premiere I reached his bungalow quite safely. Masi told mom had called at least 10 times by then. I called them up and with that my first journey to the wilderness was over…

It was not as much full of beauty, revelation, adventure as probably pat had faced or not 10% as romantic as Shankar in the mountain of moon, but that was a very original experience which I still cherish. Life was not going to be same again.

1 comment:

Azeem Arsalan ! said...

That was Vey touchy indeed !
Superb explaination :)
buddy !


Wondeful to say the least !