MY STORIES continue-------My first bus journey
By SATHEESAN RANGORATH
Children like a little bit of pampering and fondling from their parents.It builds quite a lot of confidence when they grow up. Protection and security they get from their parents builds up their courage and strength. I do not know if I gotenough love, encouragement, and strength from my parents may be my future story might reveal basis for my doubt. If at all, I would be able to write my story continuously through these pages, I shall try bring out some of strong feelings. Life is always a struggle for me. Of late, I started enjoying my sorrow too. While comparing to miseries of other children who are less fortunate than I am gives me a feeling of comfort. Every bit of my life all through these years is a vast storehouse of memories of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
School term is ending by last day of March. My father brings home several bundles of answer books from the exams, which he had to evaluate in a short time, so that the exam results are published in the school in time. There are other bundles of exam papers too that he had to do valuation, as he was examiner for government public examination for tenth standard students. During these period he was in a meditative mood Moreover, did not like to hear any voices while he is grading the papers. I used this opportunity to explore the surroundings tailing a tomato dragonfly or observe a garden chameleon, she changes her colour often. It was one of my childhood wonders. Another person I like to observe was Mr.Achuthan; he was a bullock cart driver. He used to keep a penknife in his lap and whip to control bullocks or oxen that he is driving. The pen knife that he was keeping in his big belt made me scare as he often threatened me that he shall cut my nose if I do not study well, actually he used to threaten me not about my nose but something else, which I had exposed during my troucerless days.
After conclusion of paper valuation, my father decided that we go on a vacation to our native place. Schools will reopen only after two months. I have to join the school when it reopens in June. I do not have even a vague idea about my native village as my memory cropped up only after reaching Mananthavadi, before the age of three or four The memory bank of a child is blank. I was very excited by the prospects of the trip; I think my mother too was happy, as she would be able to see her mother,sisters and brothers. She has six sisters and three brothers. She is the sixth among them. During The month of April there is a festival too to celebrate, as it is a New Year day for people of North Kerala. My mother told me I could meet many of my cousins more than 50 of them, who also will join the festival. I thought I am going to have whale of a good time ahead. The most important aspect for happiness is due to the prospect of traveling by Bus, Train, and Boat all the way to my village. My father had selected an auspicious day for our travel. There is only one bus leaving to the nearest town called Calicut, an important town on northern part of Kerala. Calicut now known as Kozhikode in native language is a historical town. It was here that the first traveler from west arrived, a Portuguese sailor Known as VASCO-DE GAMA.
On decided date we started early from the house by carrying our bags and baggage a lunch basket full of rice cakes and banana. The bus leaves at 5 A.M. so we reached well in advance. A bus was waiting in front of a junction. Driver and conductor was smoking Beedi ( Country Cigarette).Driver recognized my father and he helped us aboard by giving us front seat behind his seat so that there wont be much jerk during travel. He also collected our boxes and placed it on the side of his seat. The bus was a Bedford diesel; truck converted into a passenger bus, must have been in service for a long time. There was no much rush for seats as it is a long distance bus. Slowly people boarded occupying comfortable seats. Driver ready to start the bus and he took out a long liver
and went to the front of the bus, put it in slot and turned it several time, at last, engine Started with a jerk and he climbed smartly blowing a balloon like horn several time by pressing it hard. All these activities were quite new to me, as I had not traveled in a bus since I became a child from a baby. It was a wonderful experience. Driver took my complete attention by driving a big bus smartly. I watched him with wonder and care.
As the bus was moving towards the Ghats (Mountain region), conductor came with ticket book and a punch. All these information I collected from my father while on my journey. My sister had already occupied on my father’s lap and mother was watching the scenes outside.
Many wonderful things came to my vision, the crowded market places, vegetable shops, tea shops barber shops so many strange places that I had never seen before. I saw small children shivering under their rags stretching their hands for food and coins. My father tossed some coins for them. They ran away to collect. Leaving behind many wonderful places bus moved faster and faster, jerking and honking. My father sat relaxed and was dozing off, just as if to capture his remaining morning sleep that he had left at home.My mother took my sister and started feeding her with milk. I enjoyed my hot milk too.By this time the bus stopped in front of a teashop, driver and conductor got down announcing that it is a stop for breakfast and no other shops available for another three hours of journey. My father got down and went into a tea hut, after sometime he brought a cup of tea fro my mother while sipping his tea standing near the window. I was interested to get down, but father did not like my idea. I observed a monkey playing on a tree branch near by and he was looking toward teashop. Suddenly he jumped down and plucked a banana from teashop, this excited me very much. After sometime, we resumed our journey continued to the plains maneuvering hairpin bends,mountain folds and Precipice. Driver was steering the bus efficiently occasionally humming a tune. I dozed off a bit; suddenly I got up seeing thick forest all around. It was still dark although sun was attempting to reach us through a thick fog. Forest is beautiful spread around In its full splendor. An occasional flutter of wings a mass of birds fly away into forest by hearing sound of our rickety bus. In the depth of folds, there were herds of elephants. Occasionally a bison looked down at us from the tall side of the forest, as if disturbed by our interference to his freedom. Monkeys, Several of them sit on the road side walls in a line and ran away at the sound of our honking. I never forget the natural beauty that spread lying in front of me. Forest is a wonderful place.Once again I got up from my sleep to find our bus was floating through a river. I was very much afraid. My father expalined to me that we are floating on a ferry as there is no bridge for this river, so that our bus could run cross the river.
About after noon we reached Calicut. From here, we had to travel by train by another six hours. My father quickly alighted form the bus carrying our bags as we followed him, he was bargaining for a Tonga (A horse driven carriage) to take us to the railway station.
Near railway station, we got down and straight away went to a hotel for our lunch. I had never been to a big hotel before. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole happenings. At the door step the proprietor was sitting, seeing us enter he welcome my father with a smile and asked one of his boys to show us a table .Dining hall was big with neatly arranged tables and chairs. There was an inviting aroma of food hanging round the hall. We had our lunch and quickly walked down to the station. Train leaving to our place Called PALAKKAD was yet to arrive. It was learned that it would be another one hour by the time the train arrives.We waited in the hall. I engaged myself in my pasttime by observing things and people around. Station was infested with Flies, Usually railway stations are. As there are quite a lot of goods transported across to neighbouring states.Crows occupied overhead electric cables, They are in a line looking sideways to each other, singing their craaaaavy songs often. When the train arrived, we quickly boarded in a compartment. We got a window seat and an upper berth for placing our bags and boxes. Slowly our train started rolling out of platform.then moving at a faster speed than the bus. The sound of steam engine was in a particular rhythm. Smoke was reaching behind our bogie. I like the smell of coal smoke. It had a peculiar smell. I saw both sides of the train,littered with paddy fields, coconut Palm grooves scattered houses, peasants working in the fields with plough driven by bullock or oxen. Terrains changed occasionally replaced by small towns and villages.every moment the scenary changed.
Many people boarded and alighted at different stations. Sometime we were entertained By hawkers and singers, who stretched their hands after a song is finished. Slowly and steadily, our train progressed and reached Palakkad. It was around 7 P.M. when we reached. We had to take a downtown bus to our village. Wading through ditches and dusty road we reached Elappully at 8 P.M.there was a bit of summer drizzle at the time we arrived. My grandma was waiting at our roofed front gate. The roofed front gate is considered a sort of aristocratic status in Kerala. My grandma welcomed us with a full-flooded smile and fondled me especially as I approached her. More Blog next time.