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Fast And Furious: The Family Edition

Fast and Furious: The Family Edition. An incident that happened in the Jain household in fast and furious style.

The coming weekend had the sweet whiff of excitement for the Jain household. Sia, the older of the two daughters, would be leaving for her school trip. Clothes were strewn around, unkempt appearance, friends, outings, not heeding her parent’s advice, loud music and Instagramming the whole day pretty much summed up her super busy schedule of life as a teenager. School, for her, meant friends more and studies not so much. And, the highlight of her academic year was the annual school trip. Like Gabbar in Sholay who always wanted to know, “Holi kab hai”, she always asked, “school trip kab hai”? She hadn’t missed a single one ever and wasn’t going to miss anyone ever. Throughout the week, everyone had to aid her in packing for the mega event of the year. That this school trip could actually happen was nothing short of a miracle!

As we all know, the weekend heralds the beginning of a two-day respite from the weeklong drudgery of routine work. Ultra-modern urban population cling on to these two days to refuel themselves to get by another high-pressure week. The Jain family residing in Green Acres, Parel, were no different, a typical nuclear urban household in a metro city. The father was the country manager of a software company, mother, was an IT professional turned homemaker. They had two charming, school-going daughters. This family, like all others, was also caught in the daily grind and eagerly awaited the weekend break.

However, of late, weekends too were as routine as the weekdays. Come the weekend and began the grocery shopping, hobby classes, tuitions, dentist visits and a movie and a dinner outing somehow squeezed in. And poof! It was over. The overworked weekend heaved a sigh of relief when Monday took over, leaving the Jain family agog with a brand-new week to get by.

Mid-week, Mr Jain’s phone rang. Adding to the flurry of events of the coming weekend, his sister called to invite him to Udaipur. Her house had been renovated and she wanted her brother and his family to attend the house-warming ceremony. With Sia’s school trip on Sunday and his sister’s housewarming on Saturday, there was no contest in priorities. Unsurprisingly then, the invitation was promptly turned down.

On Thursday evening, Mr Jain returned from office and declared, unequivocally, “We will drive to Udaipur tomorrow evening to attend the house-warming. I want to visit my sister and her family.” Sia’s school trip wasn’t on his mind when this outlandish idea cropped up in his intelligent head. Eyes widened, eyebrows raised, and Mrs Jain almost froze in her tracks upon hearing this.

Raising a teenager wasn’t adventurous enough for him, he even dared to invite the wrath of one by interfering with her prized plans. No sooner than he had uttered those golden words, all hell broke loose. Pandemonium ensued. Loud sobs, wails and flailing arms filled the house. Dia, the younger one, blissfully unaware, hummed her favourite rhymes and continued playing with her Barbies, only once looking up to see where her mother was.

Sia counter-declared, “My trip cannot be compromised at any cost. My trip starts on Sunday evening. There is no way we can leave for Udaipur tomorrow. We won’t be able to return on time. And that is not at all acceptable. I will not miss my school trip for anything, and you know this Papa,” she yelled in between sobs and stomped to her bedroom. Dussehra was three days away but one look at Sia now and it would seem Goddess Durga had descended already.

The loud slam of her door jolted Mr Jain back to reality from the stupor she had left him in while demonstrating her displeasure. Nothing can ever prepare a parent for the unpredictable behaviour of a teenager; God forbid an angry one. The parents looked at each other not knowing what just hit them. “Welcome to the thrilling world of parenting teenagers,” smirked Mrs Jain. Meanwhile, Dia continued playing with her Barbies though the theme had shifted from a friendly tea party to a quarrel.

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Mrs Jain, not wishing to be pulled into taking sides, let out a sigh and walked in quick steps towards her bedroom. She had barely plopped herself on the bed seeking refuge in a novel, when Mr Jain followed behind, in slow and sluggish steps. His shoulders were drooping, his face was long and his eyes misty. At long last, the gravity of the predicament had hit him. One look in those baffled eyes and Mrs Jain put the novel aside.  It was time for her to put on the cape and restore peace in the Jains’ world. She nodded her head, patted Mr Jain’s shoulder and assured him that together they will devise a way to get out of this problem. The absurdity of the situation induced laughter in them, infectious enough to elicit a few chuckles from baby Dia too. However, it was short-lived; a loud wail emanated from the neighbouring room stunning them into pin-drop silence.

They both ran to Sia’s room but found it locked. No amount of pleading made her open the door. All they could hear was, “go away.” This propelled them into discussing Sia’s school trip and their road trip in detail. They noted the departure date and time, route, mode of transport, accompanying teachers and travel partners. Armed with these details, they pored over the plan of driving to Udaipur, the estimated time to reach and other minute details that could affect Sia’s school trip. While assessing the routes and timings of both the trips, they unearthed a providential coincidence.

The school trip was to Mount Abu which fortunately was in the backyard of Udaipur. It seemed plausible then, that on their return journey from Udaipur, they could meet the school group somewhere along the common route. Their hands met in the air as they high-fived and jumped up and down with exhilaration. Their faces lit up as they giggled like a child who’s just got a new toy. Voila! Presently they had found a simple solution to the seemingly complex conundrum.

Just then, Sia walked out of her room, dragging her feet in slow motion. With puffed eyes, red nose, and tousled hair, she was a picture of misery. Hoarsely she reiterated, “Come what may, I will not miss my school trip.” And broke into loud sobs once again. Dia ran to console her sister. She put her arms around Sia and wiped away her tears. The effect was opposite to what little Dia could imagine. Sia’s sobs became louder and Dia ran back and stood quietly behind her mother.

Mrs Jain gesticulated a thumbs up and a clap to laud Dia for her valiant efforts. Dia beamed with pride at the appreciation. Right now, though, a very distressed Sia was the focal point and so Mrs Jain redirected her attention towards Sia.

Circumspectly, she walked up to Sia and hugged her, Sia immediately extricated herself and walked back to her room, leaving a trail of soft sobs. Multiple pleadings and the promise of a Belgian Waffle later, she ultimately consented to at least hear out her parents. At long last, the stars had aligned that evening. Astonishingly, without any further ado, Sia agreed to abide by their plan, albeit on her terms and conditions. Her condition was simple, “reunite me with my group at the earliest possible leg of the journey to keep your freakish plan on.”

It was not yet time to rejoice though, as this was only half the battle won. The laborious task of speaking to teachers and in-charges to get approval for this anomaly still loomed imposingly. They would have to wait until the next morning to find out if their solution could withstand the major roadblock, school authorities. Having no control over further development, the Jains called it a day.

Mrs Jain woke up at 5 a.m., her daily scheduled time. Usually, she would have said, “TGIF!” Today it was, “OGIF!” (Oh God it’s Friday!). She had to speak to the school principal, various teachers, admin staff and travel partners. And that’s not all, there was the matter of packing too. With soft meditation music playing and the pot of coffee brewing, Mrs Jain was suitably fortified to see through the day! After several phone calls and animated conversations of pleading, clarifying and explaining, the school authorities finally granted permission to Sia to join the group en route, at an intermediate station.

Friday afternoon finally lived up to its promise of a fun-filled weekend ahead. Everything was sorted, suitcases packed, tyres checked, diesel filled, gas and geyser switched off and all doors and windows were locked. With snacks and water on board, the Jain family sped to Udaipur.

Traversing through fairly decent roads, in about 12 odd hours they reached Udaipur at crack of dawn. They spent the morning and the afternoon attending the housewarming ceremony and feasting on local delicacies. A lovely lakeside café was their evening getaway. Being in the city of lakes and not visiting a lakeside cafe just seemed inconceivable. Their short and sweet trip ended the next afternoon as the Jain family packed their bags and set out for Ahmedabad, the designated drop-off point for Sia. She had been a good sport so far and her family was reciprocating to ensure she joined the school group and went onward with her trip. Despite the multiple requests of his sister, Mr Jain excused himself to keep the promise he made to his daughter.

An uneventful drive took the Jains to a hotel in Ahmedabad, they checked in a little before midnight, only for a few hours. At 4 a.m., the Jains checked out and drove to Ahmedabad station to meet the school group. So far everything was going as planned and even though everyone was tired, they remained cheerful and upbeat.  The status on the website showed that the train, which was ferrying the school group, had already arrived at Ahmedabad station. According to Mrs Jain (who honestly was quite befuddled with too many things happening simultaneously), the school group was supposed to alight at Ahmedabad and board a bus to Mount Abu. The train halted for a good ten minutes at Ahmedabad. That’s how the genius plan was devised. They would go to Udaipur, attend the housewarming, then go to Ahmedabad, drop off their daughter, and be back on their way to Mumbai. Such a neat plan.

Outside the station, in the cold and dark, they waited and waited and waited some more, for the school gang to come out. There was no sign of anyone, let alone a noisy school group. As they were waiting, they heard a train pulling out of Ahmedabad station. The status update showed that it was the train on which the school group was travelling.

The entire family was flabbergasted and dumbstruck and stunned beyond words. Mrs Jain could see her world fall to pieces. All her efforts in bridging the gap between Sia and herself would go down the drain if anything went wrong with this plan. How did this happen? She had done her due diligence while chalking out this special dual plan. At this unearthly hour, waiting outside an unfamiliar station, it dawned on her that she surely had missed some important information and was to be blamed for this huge gaffe. It certainly was impossible that the children had come out, boarded the buses and left for Abu Road, all within ten minutes of arrival and without being noticed. Teenaged school children going unnoticed, especially when in a large group and on a holiday is like saying one can catch the wind in their palms. Mrs Jain did not have the nerves to turn back and face her daughter. They would be at loggerheads yet again. As if mother-daughter didn’t have enough relationship issues, a new one had to crop up.

Groggy and bleary-eyed, Mr and Mrs Jain tried to wrap their heads around what was unfolding. Before Sia could complain, they frantically began making phone calls to parent representatives, adventure coordinators and teachers. But all in vain. Everyone was enjoying their cosy sleep in the wee hours. While they, battered after such long drives with very little sleep, a fuming teenager and a cranky younger one in the back seat, were at their wit’s end. A wail loud enough to wake up an entire neighbourhood emanated from the back seat just as Mrs Jain finally got through to someone who patiently clarified that the train goes directly to Abu Road and no one was supposed to get off at Ahmedabad. This sent a fresh wave of panic through the entire car. If words and looks could kill, Mrs Jain wouldn’t be alive for another instant.

The uproar that ensued cannot be described, suffice it to say that Mrs Jain counts it amongst her most disconcerting memories. Each one tried to pass on the blame with a long hard stare while mumbling about the sticky situation they were in. Thrashing her arms, fervently shaking, crying and talking at the same time, Sia made it amply clear that this was not what she had signed up for. She had to be on that train and join her friends, one way or the other. She gave them no choice, whatsoever. Poor Dia, she just looked around sheepishly, trying to make sense of things. Sensibly enough she didn’t interfere or else she would’ve had to face her sister’s wrath too. It was just so numbing, they did not know what to do next, especially with Sia’s continuous loud sobs.

A way out had to be devised to reunite Sia with her friends, there was no other option. As the initial shock wore off, Mr Cool-Head aka Mr Jain, hatched yet another preposterous plan.  In a louder than normal voice, he announced, “we will catch the train two stops away, at Mehsana.”

No sooner than he had finished his statement, Mrs Jain and Sia shrieked in disbelief at the ridiculously impossible sounding plan. The train had been gone 10 minutes and was rattling away uninterrupted on the tracks. How on earth did Mr Jain think of achieving this feat? Was he a secret superhero flying around in a cape or the car had suddenly grown magical wings to soar away?

As they gaped at him with dropped jaws and blank looks, Mr Jain explained, “The wait time at the first intermediate station will give us time to catch up and reach the next station in time to meet the train.” While Sia was crying and Mrs Jain was trying to placate her, he had done some digging. Shaking their heads in disbelief, they gave in to his new plan. They had no choice. This, or drive up to Mount Abu, the final destination was the only two choices. Sia was not going back to Mumbai with them for sure. It was worth a try then. If it worked out then it would save, the already tired and haggard family, several hours of the unnecessary drive up to Mount Abu.

Thus, as agreed upon, mission fast and furious was set in motion. Dia was still as clueless as before but she cheered as she saw a smile crack on her sister’s face which disappeared immediately upon being noticed. She had to look glum and sulky to reinforce the gravity of the situation. Her parents needed the guilt of botching her trip to spur them on.

Praying to the million gods, Mrs Jain begged everyone to settle down as the car pulled out of Ahmedabad station. Gadgets were fished out; technology was summoned, and a futile appeal was made to Sia to keep calm. Armed with the map and the train’s live schedule, Mr Jain planned to fast-track from Ahmedabad to Mehsana. The train had had a head start of 10 minutes. As per Mr Jain’s calculation, they could just make it in time. Sia bawled yet again, at the uncertainty, until they promised her that if they missed the train at Mehsana, they would drop her off at Mount Abu. This calmed her down like a magic spell had been cast, though no one was sure how long it would last.

Unclear thoughts and strange anxiety shrouded Mrs Jain. She had gone quiet except when spoken to. Not able to contribute in any way, Dia found her cosy end on the seat and dozed off. Sia kept looking at the watch, at the roads, at the car speed and the train schedule on the phone. Mr Jain, the coolest of them all, just kept driving the best he could, given the circumstances and the timing, the mood and the roads.

Lo and behold! Fifteen minutes into the drive, a loud boom ringed through the cold quiet roads. The car screeched to a hissing halt.  Thanks to seat belts and low traffic, no one was grievously injured. Everyone was shaken vigorously, physically and mentally. After checking on everyone inside the car, Mr Jain stepped outside to assess the damage. The damage outside was reparable and minuscule compared to the volcano about to erupt inside. Sia went ballistic with her accusations and blamed her mother for talking her into this plan and all the mishaps. As per her, if her mother had not tried to please everyone and had not allowed this dreadful plan to be executed, she would right now have been in the merry company of her pals. Fresh and hot briny tears streamed down her cheeks as she glared at her mother. Mrs Jain, by now feeling responsible and guilty for all this mix-up, looked away, wiping off a tear of her own. Quietly she summoned the universe and its magical powers to get them out of this predicament as she quickly paced toward Mr Jain to help him.

The tyre was punctured and would need to be replaced. Fortunately, Mr Jain was well prepared when it came to long drives. As fast as he possibly could, he wheeled out the punctured tyre and fitted in the new one. He double checked everything and scurried into the driver’s seat. Forget Formula One and its speedy pit stops, this was no less than any record. But someone was not impressed at all. Sia simply shrugged off and looked away, but not before the razor-sharp daggers from the corner of her eyes impaled her father’s body. Blood oozed out and adrenaline surged through his veins instead. He was ready to rocket through the rest of the journey with Sia’s heated anger as the fuel. No more pit stops until they crossed the chequered flag at Mehsana, he assured her.

Mrs Jain timidly turned around and asked Sia to eat an apple. She thought it would break the ice and also because Sia hadn’t eaten anything since she had woken up. Mothers don’t learn the easy way. Now was not the time to shower motherly affection. Now was the time to leave her alone to sulk, to crib and to just keep praying for a miracle. Hearing a rude denial, she started munching on one herself, taking big purposeful bites. That piqued her husband’s interest too and he asked for one and joined her in the munching. “Will you stop munching so loudly? Papa, you please concentrate on driving!” bellowed a disgruntled Sia.

Mr and Mrs Jain took a few big bites of the remaining apple and quickly discarded the core as if it would help in driving faster. The GPS showed that the train was about to reach the first halt in ten minutes and it would halt there for a good ten minutes. They had twenty-five minutes to exit the highway adjoining that station. The tyre puncture hadn’t helped. But this minute-by-minute update was proving very useful and gave real-time status to match the pace of the train. The GPS helped in finding the shortest routes, though not many options are available when one is on the highway.

As they took one alternate short route to bypass the trucks, they entered a quaint town. At another time, one could stop to admire its old-world charm. But right now, the lack of proper roads was a major cause of concern. Nothing appeared beautiful or pleasant. The rising sun, its soft rays lighting up the world, nothing. Cursing the GPS for suggesting this hopeless route, Mr Jain tried to navigate through the bad roads. Within the village, his driving speed had dropped to that of a bicycle. There were people, cattle, bicycles, goats, chickens and whatnot on the road? Everything and everyone seemed to be out and about, on with their usual day. “Why do people have to wake up so early?” mumbled Sia, amusing Mr and Mrs Jain. Both tried their best to muffle a giggle as Sia was in no mood for any fun. She ignored her parents and resumed checking the last known status of the train.

Soon enough they reached the last leg of the little village. The exit to the highway was about five hundred metres away. They were relieved. It meant they could still try and make it to Mehsana along with the train. As Mr Jain hit the accelerator, the car went ahead and crashed into a ditch. Stagnant, muddy water along with cattle faeces was all over the front wheel of the car. Everyone sat up with a jolt. The wheel kept whirring but did not move. What? Had they not had enough thrill already? Mrs Jain immediately looked around to make sure everyone was okay. Dia was rudely woken up from her sleep and began crying. Sia was, well, just angry. Mrs Jain tried to appease her but she wanted nothing except to be reunited with her friends.

Mr Jain got out of the car and kicked the wheels in frustration and disbelief. Just when they were making good time and Sia had calmed down a notch? And suddenly the road appeared lonely and deserted. Till now people were in front of the car at every turn. He got back in and tried to give sudden acceleration jerks hoping to jump-start it out of the ditch. Alas! It did not work. He repeated the process two-three times but to no avail. Sia’s patience ran out. She resumed her sulky and crabby avatar and began crying, shouting and urging her father to get the car moving. “Right now, would be a good time to unleash your superpowers,” added Mrs Jain as she chuckled and whispered to Mr Jain. His expression at this smart comment could easily snatch away the title of Mr Cool from him.

The road assistance tow service was not reachable when needed the most. He took one deep breath and waited beside the car for additional muscle power. Precious time ticked away and the time bomb on the backseat was seconds away from exploding. Just then a bullock cart approached from the opposite side. To cross over it would need the car to be out of the way. A streak of silver lining on an otherwise cloudy day. Mr Jain called out cheerfully as if he had met a long-lost friend. The villager seemed confused with the undue attention and cheerful greeting. He hopped off and commanded the bulls to stop.

Walking towards the scene he quickly figured out the situation and rushed in to help. He called out to his brother who was sleeping on the haystack in the bullock cart. Rubbing his sleepy eyes at the uncalled-for disturbance he uttered a few expletives but immediately sobered down on seeing a woman and children. Together the brothers exuded all the power they could to heave out the wheel as Mr Jain sat in the car accelerating. A few grunts and sighs later, the car was finally unhinged from the ditch.

Mr Jain gestured for the kids to quickly sit in the car and fasten their seat belts. Mr and Mrs Jain thanked the brothers profusely. Wasting no more time, Mr Jain stepped on the gas to make a mad dash to Mehsana. The train had left the first stop. They had to reach the station in forty minutes if they hoped to catch the train at its designated arrival time. Mrs Jain offered fresh prayers to all Gods to transport them safely. Mr Jain prayed to the speed Gods to fly him through the rest of the journey. Sia pursed her lips in a big smirk and rolled her eyes at the ridiculous chain of events. Dia once again lulled off to sleep in the moving car. And mission Mehsana was on, tenaciously so.

Continuing at high speed, Mr Jain just hoped to have no more mishaps. It was a close call anyway; they were more likely to miss than meet the train. But hope is what keeps the world going. This roundabout driving without much rest was proving to be a total spoiler for his love for driving. Secretly he wished he hadn’t come up with this far-fetched plan. If not for him and his suggestion of clubbing the Udaipur trip with Sia’s school trip, they would all have been spared this nightmare. Oddly enough, his wife had to bear the biggest brunt from his daughter. Smiling reassuringly at everyone but inwardly bracing himself for the challenge, he accelerated.

The sun was out in its full glory but not yet fiery, just a snugly red fuzzy ball, spreading warm hues across the sky, dissipating the darkness of the night. Emotions were running high but sadly the speed could not match. Trucks had started moving too, making navigation complex and arduous. The boisterous truck drivers did not follow any traffic rules and had a mind of their own. By the power vested by the sheer enormity of their vehicle, they behaved like kings of the roads. Light vehicles could only conform to their rules and meander through the maze and somehow get by, personal safety being their lookout. And so, Mr Jain, just like in a video game, kept crossing the trucks which seemed like passing game levels, all in the hope to gain a clear path to Mehsana.

The bickering started getting louder. The update showed the time remaining for the train as twenty minutes and the time remaining for the road journey as twenty-five minutes. “We will never be able to catch the train, this stupid traffic and bad roads. Gosh! I am stuck with you guys forever. If we hadn’t made this stupid plan, I would happily be with my friends on the train. But no, we had to come to the housewarming. Now we will spend the whole day in this car on these stupid roads,” snarled an irate Sia.

No one responded. Everyone was tired and wanted peace and to reach their destination somehow. Mr Jain was spurred on by the latest reproach and for the next few minutes, he drove like he was gliding on butter. It was momentary though. They had reached a small railway crossing and had to wait for the train to pass. Luckily enough the train was almost past the crossing so it wasn’t a long wait. But it did cost them a good five minutes, the five minutes that could make or break their mission.

Now, the train was about ten minutes away from Mehsana and they were about twenty minutes away from the station. Mission impossible thought everybody but didn’t say it out loud. Failure seemed certain but as they say, it isn’t over until it’s over. Foot on the accelerator, bringing all his driving skills to the forefront, Mr Jain made a mad dash to complete the last lap. Finally, the Gods had heard everyone’s prayers. The roads were smoother, traffic was lower (and to avoid the trip back to Abu Road), Mr Jain gave it his all and drove as if he was chasing a fugitive. At these times we are reminded to be grateful for being in India. Anywhere else in the world, he would have been stopped and charged by the highway patrol for speeding and endangering the lives of others.

Anyhow, this favourable change allowed him to make up for all the lost time. It was neck to neck now. Sia was giving minute by minute updates while getting herself ready and collecting her stuff to get off quickly once they reached. Last five minutes, the countdown began. The onset of cheer faded off as quickly as it began. The colour drained from their faces as they reached the narrow lanes of the unknown town of Mehsana. Not this! These narrow lanes could be unforgiving and amongst its many turns hid obstacles unknown, especially when one was in a hurry.

One last call to the universal superpowers and Mr Jain went in. This was a sleepy town. While other villages around were up and about, this seemed a little more laid back. Good! Very good! As fearful as they were, surprisingly, nothing alarming occurred. What a relief! As Mr Jain pulled into the station, he could see an imaginary chequered flag being waved but the applause was real. Mrs Jain and Sia squealed with excitement. All this commotion disturbed Dia who ultimately rubbed her eyes and sat up, trying to get her bearings. Barely understanding what was happening she just joined in the clapping and cheering.

“C’mon now, there isn’t any time to waste. Hurry up. Move it girls,” appealed Mr Jain gently. He unbuckled and hopped off to quickly haul Sia’s luggage from the boot as the ladies stepped down too. With her backpack secured, Sia fidgeted nervously waiting for her father to get the luggage. She high-fived a well-rested Dia who was chirpy and fresh. Sia still didn’t look at her mother very happy.

Shutting the boot with a loud bang, Mr Jain was soon ahead and called out to the others to run. As real-time as it could get, updates could still be delayed or slow. They could not know for sure if they had made it, successfully. They would find out only after reaching the platform. Thankfully, small towns had small stations and not many platforms. Disregarding the platform ticket came to mind but Mr Jain did not want any more trouble. He asked the others to go ahead and check the platform number of the train’s arrival, inwardly confident that they were on time. He rushed to buy the platform tickets. No queue. Lady luck had finally woken up. A loud engine whistle ringed through the stillness around. He wondered if it was the arriving train or the departing train. There was only one way to find out. He grabbed the platform tickets and the luggage and ran. Within minutes he was able to join his family.

Ear to ear grins expressing their exhilarating joy could light up a dark room as they saw the train arriving on platform number one. They were spared further suffering by not having to run to other platforms. They all looked at each other, love, concern, and joy writ on all their faces. As if on cue, they all took one deep breath and burst out laughing, tears of joy flowing down, unabashed. The loud shrill whistle of the approaching train brought on another round of giggles, as Dia cupped her ears to lessen the noise. Not only had they reached the station against all odds, but they had also reached five minutes before the train. Reaching the platform five minutes before the train, by no means extraordinary, was a euphoric and memorable moment for the Jain family.

The good luck continued, the bogie which Sia was supposed to board, halted right in front of them. Sia’s teacher was at the gate, waiting to welcome her. Without a second’s delay, Sia bolted to board the train. Just before stepping on the footrest, she jogged back and hugged her mother, father and sister. Before tearing away from them, she quickly planted a kiss on each one’s cheek, thanking them. She squeezed her mother’s hand to express her gratitude for keeping it together and bearing her tantrums. Like a fresh flower, Mrs Jain’s face bloomed with happiness and contentment. The engine sounded again, the teacher called out and at long last, Sia stepped inside the train. Mr Jain pushed her luggage in and teasingly enacted the famous words from the movie DDLJ, “ja Sia, jee le apni zindagi!” Red-faced with embarrassment, she cringed and gave a fake smile before hastily walking inside. Mr and Mrs Jain finally had a content smile on their tired faces. The train started pulling out and they could hear happy squeals emanating from the bogie. Sia had woken up her friends to announce her arrival.

Heaving a sigh of relief, the remaining three walked out. Mr Jain raised his arms and stretched to relax his muscles. Dia was just happy to have seen a train so closely. Mrs Jain looked one last time at the train, picked up Dia and hugged her and glanced with concern at Mr Jain. The long drive to Mumbai lay ahead. But that’s a story for another time.

Image Credits: Annie Spratt on Unsplash 

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