We got into our compartment. After settling down, we exchanged introductions with our co-passengers. We had a sweet family of R and S and their daughter P and a student D as company during the train journey of 36 hours. That night we just had dinner and snoozed off.
Next day was wholly spent on train but we didn’t feel bored. Mantam and P played together with cards, books and colours. They also watched a few movies on Abbas’s laptop. R, S, Abbas and I played Uno. D joined later too. Abbas sat next to R and kept on tormenting him with charged up cards. We had such a lovely time that the journey didn’t seem hectic. Abbas was addressing D as D aunty while talking to Mantam, as in ‘D aunty ke paas baitho’. And she would get embarrassed and say “Aunty nahi Didi bulao”. She took a sweet revenge by addressing us as Uncle and Aunty. LOL
I was awestruck at the ‘Khazana’ that S had brought along with her. You name it and she would conjure it up from one of her bags within no time. She had so many of P’s toys, playthings, books while I had carried only 1 colouring book each and a crayon set and a story book.
Abbas and R bought Oranges from Nagpur but they were all sour although cheaper. Food in the train was quite edible but quantity seemed less. We had to buy an extra plate for every meal. We were all sure that our train would not reach on time due to fog as past few days’ statistics suggested so. When Ummi called me and asked what time we would be reaching, I said that we might be late. She said – “What is the scheduled time? I’m sure your train will reach on time. Wait and watch” – I laughed at her predictions. That night we slept off well.
24th Dec 2011 – Saturday
When our sleep broke, we could hear hustle bustle and people hurrying. When we enquired, we came to know that the train was about to reach the destination in 15 mins. We were astounded. Train was definitely running on time. I recalled Ummi’s words and blessed her.
Dressed up Mannu Tammu with layers of warm clothes, I too wore 2 layers myself. Abbas just wore a jacket on top and a topi. Wonder how he managed. We stepped out of the train into biting cold. Although I was well covered, I could feel my hands and face freezing. Luckily Mantam had worn gloves too. We went to the taxi stand and they quoted Rs.850 to be dropped to Gurgaon. I told Abbas to go and check any Pre-paid Taxi stand. I stood there with all the luggage and Mantam. Abbas returned after a while and said ‘Chalo. I found a taxi’. Immediately these guys said ‘Kitne mein ja rahe hain?’ He said 600. This guy straight away dropped his quotation to 600 and hurried to load our luggage into his taxi.
As soon as we reached home, everybody’s mood was lit up. I began taking out all the goodies that I had taken for Ummi and Mimmi. Bhaiyya signaled me to freshen up first and then hand them over. Ummi was going to perform a Bengali dance that evening at her school’s annual day. She showed me her costume and make up kit and a few steps. She had to deck up and reach school by 2:30 PM.
Bhaiyya and Bhabi told us how Mimmi (5.5 yrs old) had sensed that Santa does not exist but Ummi (11 yrs old) still believes in Santa. We planned to buy some goodies for all 4 sisters and hang them near the door at night. I told Ummi that I had left a letter for Santa at our home in Blore with Gurgaon address to deliver Mantam’s gifts. Mimmi questioned – “Pi, Santa sach mein gift deta hai?” I said – “Haan. Last year Mantam had got their gifts” She didn’t retort but strong suspicion was evident from her expressions.
Ummi left for school. We had a yummy Bong lunch of Fish Curry, Cabbage Sabzi with fish head and Baingan Bharta prepared by Bhabi. We got geared up to attend Ummi’s Annual Day Function. Bhabi and I went backstage to see Ummi. She was now embellished with ornaments and was looking even more graceful. She handed over her coat and spectacles to us. Mantam were repeatedly asking us – “Baadu kothay? Baadu ka dance kab hoga?” (They call her Baadu) When Ummi’s dance was about to begin, Mantam and Mimmi went right to the front row were chief guests were seated and witnessed the entire act. We were overjoyed looking at Ummi. She danced with poise and grace.
After all the performances, prize distribution ceremony began. Ummi had said that she had won some prizes in sports. So we all waited eagerly. The wait was so elongated. We were able to spot Ummi on the corner waiting for her name to be called. We were biting our nails and looking at Ummi’s expression changing as prizes for sports were also distributed but her name never got called. We were so disappointed. Even after all the prizes displayed on the Diaz were distributed, Ummi stayed put and we heard “Best sportsperson Junior category – Rennaisa” and we cheered in elation. It was a proud moment for us all and I thanked my stars that we were able to witness this moment in person.
By this time, it was almost 8 PM and in the chilling weather, nature called me urgently. Inspite of secure layers of clothing, I thought my body was frozen. As soon as Ummi came out, I asked her to take me to the loo. Had there been a delay of a few seconds, I would have had an accident for sure… After Ummi changed into casuals, we headed home. Bought some Kathi rolls on the way and Bhaiyya and Abbas picked up some goodies to be sneaked in at night.
We had to pack our bags as we were travelling next morning. After dinner when kids went to bed, I decorated the entrance with a few stars and miniature Santas and kept all the goodies in an old empty hanging lamp. We had made up all stories and made mental notes as all of us had to sound the same or Mimmi would doubt again…
To be continued…..
Leaving you with a few pics of train journey and Ummi’s Annual Day pics.