The Train Ride

2 min


“Ah Chanda! There you are,” Papa looked at me and smiled.

“Yes, Papa. I am so tired from school.”

“Ok, hurry up and change. Your mother’s made lunch and I am hungry too,” Papa laughed as he said that.

Sitting down to eat, I saw the simple fare laid out. But even this was a luxury. Food was expensive and Ma worked as a maid in various homes. Papa was a plumber. He worked on assignments as and when possible. But they both had never let me feel the pinch, their only child!

Ma joined us, a small bowl in hand with ‘paneer ki sabzi*’.

“Chanda, for you. The rich madamji where your Ma works gave it today. And we both know your love for paneer,” Papa lovingly ran a hand over my head.

I saw Ma and Papa exchange glances and smiled at their love for each other. No one could guess that they weren’t my real parents. Ma was unable to conceive; hence they had adopted me when I was an infant from a distant cousin. My real parents gave me away gladly. Because I was a girl, a burden!

Although I was now nine, their world revolved around me. They doted on me. Such a blessed feeling!

“Chanda, let’s go for a train ride today. It’s been too long,” Papa suggested.

“Okay. But an ice-cream on the way back. Papa, pleaseeee!”

“Yes, yes. Promise.”

Boarding the train, I noticed that the compartment wasn’t crowded. I sat by the window.  Ma settled next to me and Papa beside her. Lulled by the gentle movement of the train and the soft breeze, I dozed off. 

********************************

I woke up with a start. A loudspeaker blared somewhere in the background. Disoriented, I glanced about. The compartment was empty. And the train was stationed on the platform. 

Panicked, I scrambled down, frantic to catch their glimpse. Ma and Papa could not be seen around. I searched every compartment. Yet no one stopped to help. Neither the passerby’s nor the vendors nearby. Tears rolled down my eyes. I wandered around the station for hours, feeling lost.

A bystander took pity and led me to the railway police. Sobbing, I narrated my tale. A constable was dispatched to my house in the by-lanes of the slums where I lived.

My tears refused to stop during the endless wait.

It was night when the constable returned. No one trailed behind him. Where were they?

He informed that my house was locked. The landlord was clueless. A neighbor hinted that my mother had been sick the last few months. The constable also visited the nearby doctor’s clinic. The doctor told him that my mother was pregnant. Five months, to be exact. How? Why hadn’t they said something?

The doctor called it a miracle. They had been desperate for a child. And their prayers had been answered just when they had lost all hope. 

You see ‘My Ma was expecting a boy!’

Glossary:

Paneer ki sabzi – Indian vegetable made with cottage cheese

***

Photo By: Gustavo Juliette

***

This is an entry for #TheLie #Five00-8, a room8 writing event –in 500 words.
Check out the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/room8/thelie

Room8 appreciates your rating the story out of 10 in the comments.


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