An Unforgettable Experience
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
We were in a quandary; Confused by the zigzag puzzle of ‘One way-Two way-No way’, had landed ourselves at the wrong way,and now the automan was refusing to traverse the small distance ahead to reach my abode. Darkness was closing in, vehicles of all sorts-sizes coming at full speed across the narrow road while scooters, bykes,cycles whizzed past on the namesake footpath. Good God,how was I to reach home through this melee!
Shuddered,involuntarily. Sensing it, my concerned friends took the automan to task, but he had his point. "If you had just given me the address and sat back comfortably,(In the rickety vehicle!)I would have easily brought ajji to her door-step, but no, each of you had to give contradictory instructions with absolutely no road-sense—so now, see the result?”
“Don’t worry,I will somehow manage – if I take a few steps and call out, the watchman will come running; Carry on,” Assuring my friends, I got down.
I had taken just a few steps,lol! All the vehicles coming from the opposite direction surrounded me! Blinded by their flashing head-lights,I stood still, like one rooted to the spot. Legs began to wobble……..God, what had I let myself into! “I warned you not to go!” I could hear my husband ranting when I make it to my flat.(Will I?)
Suddenly, a strong clasp- a reassuring voice! “Don’t worry ajji,I will take you- where do you want to go?” The youth steered me carefully through the maze, onto the remaining footpath, not without chiding mildly-“This is foolishness ajji, going out on one’s own at this age! That too at such a time! Don’t you know the wild traffic of Bangalore? Or,are you new to Bangalore?”
“Born and bred ,I have spent my whole life here, “I informed him-“But this Bangalore is really NEW to me-to our generation of the ‘Garden-city’era.”
“Yes,I have heard my elders also say so”- He nodded wistfully-“Anyway,henceforth, be careful ajji-please”
The intense concern in his warm voice touched the core of my heart. After all a passing stranger,why should he bother about me?
He let go of my hand only at the gate of our complex, that too after seeing the watchman, and not without last-minute instructions to be careful in future.
Thanking him profusely, I enquired- “Your name boy?”
“Abdulla”- He said casually, then bending down and touching my feet respectfully, requested-” Bless us ajji, that we- myself and my sister Mumtaz,do well in life and bring credit to our motherland” .
Immediately suspicious,I asked him pointblank-“Which motherland?”
“Our India of course!”-There was genuine surprise at my query-“We know no other motherland. Our forefathers were born here, lived happily here,died here. Likewise, we children have also been born and brought up here; Can we go anywhere else,leaving our roots behind! Yes,-- but why do you ask so, ajji?”***