Dream Come True Part 6 Continued
This story is basically about a boy who is very lazy and boring, but he has a unique hobby. It is to listen to the stories of other people. He is an arm-chair traveller, who roams from one place to another and comes to know about different people, cultures, beliefs, enchanting and not- so-enchanting places, superstitions, miracles and super-natural encounters as also about the inner thoughts that at times bother us as human beings - all through the stories of other people or casual conversation with interesting characters.
Table Of Content
Visit to an Enchanting Place
Home Sweet Home
Siberian Winds in Hokkaido
Trek to Himalayas
Story in Revenge
Backlash at Payback Time
“We walked into the lodge and the man at the tiny reception stared at us. Perhaps, he found it amusing that we were carrying our luggage in steel trunks with big padlocks. The old balding man at the counter made some general enquiries. He looked satisfied with our purpose of coming to Bombay. He opened the drawer of his tall teak wood table and took out his round reading glasses. Putting them on his nose, he gave us a long look and then dusted the thick and heavy register residing calmly in a corner of his antique table. ‘Write your names and addresses in the register’, he kind of ordered while giving us a pen and an inkpot.
Checked in, we took the narrow stairs to the 3rd floor where our room was allotted. Having talked to the old man and seen the lobby, I was pretty sure that the room was also going to be dark and small. Surprise, surprise! The room was so bright and airy. Sunlight through the windows, beautiful carvings on the furniture; couldn’t believe my eyes. While I marvelled at the scenery from the window, my uncle came out of the bath. Looked all freshened up.
It was going to be late afternoon. So I quickly took my bath, dressed up and locked our trunks again with the big locks and went out to see the city. The biggest city this side of the Suez Canal it was.
First of all, we went to see the luxurious hotel which had been built at the turn of the century. It was named ‘TAJ’. What a huge and pleasant structure with giant domes! I wanted to spend one night inside the Hotel Taj, but too expensive to afford.
Gateway of India standing at the nearby shore of the Arabian Ocean was the next on our list. Once upon a time, the tall gate had been built to welcome the King and Queen of England. We sat near the sea for a while and then went back to our lodge for a good overnight sleep. The next day we sipped a hot cup of Darjeeling Tea and again went out to roam the city. Time flies. Three hours just vanished on the Marine drive alone. We enjoyed the cool breeze the most. We talked about patriotic stuff like “what could I do for my country after returning from Cambridge”. The long chat continued till we walked into a nearby restaurant named Leopold cafe. Enjoyed the meal and took a Victoria back to our lodge. It was difficult to take rest. My uncle kept cooing, ‘ rest, rest a while...you have a long sea journey ahead’. The advice made me all the more tense. Quickly packed the luggage, lay on the bed for a while and then together with uncle walked off to Apollo Bundar. Time to board the ship and I was getting nervous. After all, I was going to a far off land and no air travel. Hardly spoke from the lodge to the port, while my uncle kept hugging me. Advice on how to live in a foreign country, which he called ‘Velaayat’, kept flowing. Time to leave and I had to board the ship. Waved vigorously and shouted bye to my uncle. The ship started to move slowly in the deep Arabian Sea. The water all around was adding to my sadness. Feeling sad and uneasy, I went to my coupe. To calm myself down, I took a book out of my trunk named “A Passage to India” by Rudyard Kipling and started reading it. Did not help much; my anxiety increased as the days rolled by. Ten days over, the ship reached the Port of Aden. Bunker oil and maintenance for two days. I went to Alexandria. Could not believe I was there in Alexandria; once upon a time it housed the world’s largest library. An unforgettable experience and I was back on the ship’s deck.
On the deck, I met a man who said he lived in Singapore somewhere near Rangoon Road. Son of migrants from India, he found the living conditions not so good in Singapore. As a child, he often went to what he called Bedok to get grass for his cattle. It was so marshy, he said, that you could catch fishes there. Just strike the ground with a stick.
He too, like me, was going to Cambridge on a scholarship and wanted to do something good for his city. Three weeks into the sea, we reached the Portsmouth Port and took the same train to Cambridge. My thoughts came to a sudden halt as the man sitting beside me again spoke aloud: ‘Rajan, it’s now pretty late in the evening. I think it’s going to rain too. Although you have an umbrella and a torch, it’s not safe to go to your cottage. It’s at the other end of the village. So you come with me and sleep over at my place. Anyways, there is no one at your house. Your uncle died a long time ago.’ Felt somewhat strange, but went along to his house. What a lonely place! A mango orchard and barren land was all that surrounded the house.
Soon he offered me a glass of hot milk and I recalled how my uncle used to do the same every night till I graduated from the High School. It was so cold outside and my stomach was empty too. So I gladly extended my hand to receive the glass. ‘Did he look like my uncle’, I wondered and promptly dismissed the idea. No way possible.
As I was very tired, I took the milk and slept off. Woke up in the morning, but where was he? How come no one in the house! In fact, it was a hut completely in ruins. The barren land was a graveyard. I ran out of the house and, without taking by belongings, took the next flight back to Cambridge.”