The further away I go from home the closer I get to my memories at home. Memories are a beautiful thing. A photo, a song, a name anything can trigger endless images in your mind’s camera. Though I have slowly come to realise not everyone remembers everything. Like my friend Amreen she called me and confirmed the place three times yesterday about meeting her at a particular coffee shop today. I reached there at 5 sharp and got her message in caps at around 5.10 ” WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?”. I called her and she told me she was in Starbucks at Irving while I was sipping coffee at Starbucks in Richardson atleast 20 miles away. We didn’t meet finally. Thanks to Amreen’s elephant memory. Though I have a good memory and more so since I have been living away from home. Sitting at the Starbucks where Amreen never came my mind went back to one of the scariest yet funniest incident of my life. It is a story where my mother left me in the middle of the street in Bombay when I was 9 years old. I call it “The Red Sunny Story.”
My mother was the busiest woman I knew. She would wake up at 5 in the morning make tiffins. Get us ready for school. Take the 7.45 local to Bandra. Come home at 2. Have a quick-lunch and take me to Andheri West to play Badminton at 3. After all this if I didn’t try hard enough on court it was bound to make her pretty angry. I was doing exactly that, on that day. I was in real bad form. My mother saw me play and asked me when I came out of the court in Marathi, “I know the shuttle costs 75 rupees but that doesn’t mean you should never hit it! Where you seeing stars today?” We quickly wrapped up after session and headed out to get home. My mother then rode a Bajaj Sunny. A Bajaj Sunny was literally a small bicycle with an engine. When wind blew real hard there was a decent chance of the driver not needing to use the accelerator at all to move the Sunny forward.
We reached the Bajaj Sunny and mother had to kick atleast 20 times to start its engine. Every kick after the second one raised her anger by a certain degree. ” I wish I could sell this idiot. (Bajaj Sunny) ” After the 20th kick the ‘Sunny’ roared like our night watchman in Pune roared from his sleep, after calling his name 20 times at the gate when I used to reach home post 11pm . The journey began. My mom was constantly talking about how I should try harder. I was too tired to pay attention so I ignored. She suddenly stopped at our usual bread provider’s shop and told me to get down and get bread. She wouldn’t dare stop Sunny’s engine. So I went to him and he told me the bread had got over. I came back and told her. ” Oh God! What will I make for breakfast tomorrow? Today is just not my day.” I waited for her instructions. “What are you looking at? Sit quickly.” She yelled.
We crossed two signals and mother had got pretty silent by then. She suddenly saw another shop so she stopped. I got down, went to the shop and asked for bread. He had bread. I paid him the money and headed back to mother. She looked a little less angry now and seemed to have cooled down. I put my leg across the seat in the air and just when I was about to rest my bottom the Sunny moved below me. My mother went a little ahead. I was alright till then but then she just kept going and never looked back. Yes! My mother had officially forgotten to check if I had sat on her five-star Sunny.
It took me a while to realise that mother had ACTUALLY forgotten me. The moment I realised I ran behind her, yelling and crying. She just would not look back. A lot of weird thoughts must have gone through my nine-year old mind. She hates me. I should have finished my milk in the morning. She must have checked my tiffin I didn’t eat the sandwich. On top of that I didn’t try hard on the court today. Oh God! I promise to be a good girl. Please give me one chance. Please! And so on.
If Usain Bolt was running beside me that day. He would have lost. But mother was riding her Sunny like a Ferrari. People on the road were looking at me like I was demented. Nobody has time in Bombay and nobody helps until you ask for it. I was just focussed on running and I never asked for help, so Bombayites chose to ignore me. After what was an eternity I lost all hope of catching up with mother. My run slowly was turning into a jog. Suddenly out of nowhere a Bihari man came on his cycle and asked me why was I jogging and crying. I told him, “Meri maa mujhe bhul gayi.” He told me to sit in front of him on the front rod of the cycle. Like Shah Rukh Khan, he said, “Lets find your mother. Main hoon na! Tum fikar mat karo. Chalo jaldi!” All this while I was sobbing continuously of course.
He followed the way I told him to. Thankfully I knew the way home. After about 1 km of this drama. We reached a one way, where my mother on her Ferrari/Sunny had to stop due to a red light. A rickshaw wala apparently got down of his rickshaw tapped her on her shoulder, and asked her. “There is a girl running behind (like she is demented) is she your daughter?” Mother looked back and she said she almost was going to faint. Her heart was beating so fast that she later told me that she felt like it had shifted from her heart to her ear. It was a one way so she had to get down of her Sunny, stop it’s engine (crap!20 kicks) and walk it back through Bombay traffic. In a minute or so we saw each other. I on the front rod of the bike started shouting ,”Aai!Aai!Aai!” She rushed towards me. I jumped out of the bicycle and hugged her tight. My mother was saying a lot of things to the Bihari cycle wala. I was not interested really. I was finally with my mother. God had given me another chance in life. I was just so grateful.
One thing has happened after this incident. My mother still cross checks (with her eyes) two times if the person behind her Activa has sat down. Once from the left and once from the right and only then does her journey begin.