General Fiction posted April 19, 2017


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The best time I had travelling in train

An Expensive Gift

by Lova Vijay Kumar


"Hello", I answered as I picked up the landline ringing. "We are going to the wedding of Ramesh (our cousin). Apply for a leave on Thursday and Friday, we will have four days all together", answered my father in a vibrant tone."

"You three are going, I have a tender to submit on Monday and we have no time to breathe here. This weekend's not even a holiday for us," I gave a prompt reply. I heard him take a long breath as he said, "Ok! Toot...toot....", the land line is wishing me good bye my father forgot to. Indeed, if he uttered then he agreed to my staying off at home and I understand he wants me to join them.

The next day at the office is a surprise awaiting on my desktop. It's a dialogue box of the email dropped by the Indore Smart City Corporation Ltd and the message read, " The project due date is extended to .......", and already started to whistle in the background, the shores of Coastal Andhra.

By the time I reached home in the dusk, my mother had already packed our luggage and in India, we are ever punctual. The train departures at 21:15 and our cab arrived sharp, but before the main portico of the 1870 Nizam built Secunderabad station, the headquarters of south central railway of India. "Coo.......!", the dove sounded but cawing tone of the train now seemed to us like a lion's roar, "This must be Gouthami Express," whispered my father, "Which platform?", I asked, "That on which you find a running train", he gave an agile reply and leaped into the station followed by my brother, my mother, me and behind us our luggage.

We all formed a train jostling through the throngs and the spectacular concourse of Azaf Jahi style architecture. Finally for he's engine, my father lead us onto the platform number two and I'm annoyed I hear no announcement of our arrival, maybe because the Indian railways didn't allot us any number. If we chased it a few more strides, we would have got into the train but we find no more platform ahead of us.

We stood there panting as the passengers stared at us like those audience in a Tollywood film shoot after a breathtaking shot in a perfect single take. "Your attention please, train number 1 2 7 3 8 from Secunderabad to Kakinada Port Town, Gouthami Express is arriving on platform number five. Your attenti........", read the announcement and should see our faces as we kept looking at each other.

We made a circle like that of an Indian cricket team in the world cup final, "In the first innings, the toss is not in our favour and we had to chase. This time the pitch too is rough enough but luckily the last ball is somehow a no ball and remember, this second innings we choose to chase. Get ready for the free hit guys! Indiaaa...India.....Indiaaa.... India... disperse and here we go". Jostling across the two foot over bridges didn't tire us, but climbing those three steps at the entrance door of the sleeper class felt like clambering the mighty Everest and we finally made it to the summit.

The window seat is always reserved for my younger brother, he already got his face glued to the grills watching the bogies disappear and appear as the train writhes around the curves. The scent of Pulihora wafted around as my mother opened the lid of steel can, which we shared along with the other passengers and to serve them my mother always carries a handful of paper plates.

As the yawning fingers started to reach the switches, lights started to fade berth by berth. Soon I see the twilight unfurl in the train as the twinkling stars sailed down rowing on their crescent moon boat. Guess they are not dotting down a ladder for me to star climb the sky and should return at the earliest before they vanish in the dawn, lest I have to wait until the moon lights these stars again tomorrow after the sunset.

Even that's Ok! I can glide in the clouds so fluffy and puffing white, skate on the rainbow and play hide and seek with the sun, "OMG, He's blisteringly hot! Let me run behind the clouds". Now I understand why the moon shrinks below the horizon at the onset of sun.

Lying on his stomach in the middle berth, my brother is busy gazing at the illumining light show of the distant towns passing by through the window to the level of his forehead. Suddenly he woke us all, "Look! The Godavari", as the pitch of the wheels changed to that of reflected echoes of water and steel bridge as the train ran over a minor bridge. Now I understand why his drowsing eyes are still gazing off the window. He's curious to watch the river Godavari meander from one end of the horizon to the other till his eyes could capture.

The other passengers smiled, "It will be early in the dawn by the time our train reaches the river". My mother too promised to wake him up and we all went back to our beds. How ineffable! Lying back on the upper berth, lost into pensive thoughts that roll before the eyes and I don't remember when I slipped into sleep to the rhythmic rocking of the train like that of a cradle.

My father woke us both at around 5:20 in the morning and I wonder why his eyes gleamed so excitedly special. He grabbed my brother's wrist as he took us to the wash basin at the corner of the compartment and the breeze gushed in as he opened the door wide. It's almost about to dawn with the sky picturesquely scenic and I thought it's all my imagination last night but the stars did come down as I see them sparkle over the tips of lush green fields.

My father went back to our seat as if he forgot something. This is the right chance for my brother to go back to sleep and finish up his dream, but disappointing him my father's back in a while. Both of them crouched down near the steps and suddenly I figured out the poles passing by, started to slow down at the jerk of a break. I guess the driver just woke off a nightmare and his finger's around the break.

As the wheels started to decelerate, we saw the sky illumine. My father put his palms over the eyes of my brother and started to count, "10, 9, 8, ......, 3, 2, 1 and here we go," a thrill of goose bumps ran over my body as he uttered,"Happy Birthday!", echoing the placid riverside as our compartment's approaching the abutment of Asia's third longest road-cum-rail bridge over water at Rajuhmundry.

Should see from the eyes of my brother, the scenic view of shimmering waters, fluttering winds, fleeting birds, propelling boats across the river and finally the first gleam of sun illumining the yellow orange blanket of dawn as the train halted on the truss bridge.

I see my brother spell bound, his eyes glistening at the breathtaking grace of Godavari meandered beneath us. How gorgeous she is! One of the costliest presents of all time, the celebrated river of South India my father has presented my brother without notifying the chief ministers of four states. It's only when the Ticket Collector arrived our compartment I realised who pulled the emergency chain to make my brother's day.


The time of my life: writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a short story. The topic is: The best time you ever had in your life. It can be as an adult or as a child. Please keep it clean. Minimum length 100 words. Maximum Length 4,000 words.

Recognized


Thanks to the prompt for it inspired me pen my first story and I never imagined I will plan to continue this in chapters though I thought of just writing to tale up the best time I had travelling in train. My next posts will be on the picturesque murals of the nature at Yanam union territory, Pondicherry followed by the Kakinada beach and the Corangi mangrove Forest. Thanks all for your love and support. Namaskaram and
Thanks to Google Images.
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