Long Live Rani

Long Live Rani

9 mins

The day was too hectic for me. It was literally exhausting. The previous night, Tanmay, my headstrong hubby, Indian-Navy personnel, recently transferred to a defense-base near Mumbai, was on duty in a patrolling vessel offshore.

I had to get up quite early, which I rarely do.

The very first instruction I received was around 5.30 a. m. The acute sound forced me to get up early wasn't the alarm from my android mobile but it was the humble land-line-phone. The telephone ring was too loud indeed. Rarely that instrument would remind the household its modest but authentic presence.

We kept that land-line then particularly for the secured-broadband-internet-facility. Both of us used mobiles for our calls. We would occasionally receive long-distance-calls from a few very close relatives, friends and acquaintances in that land-line. We would use its router to get Wi Fi connection for video-chats through Skype with our parents. The rate at which people are giving up using wired-telephone-sets, calling through a land-line would slowly become totally outdated. The saved numbers in mobile-sets gave people a freedom to the associative areas of cerebral-cortex for now we don't need to memorize the contact-numbers.

Upon hearing the unceasing and metallically-coarse ring I picked up the receiver.

The person from the other end, Tanmay, said with full of ardour, "Hi, good morning, 'Jhansi ki rani," and in the very next moment modulating the voice to some considerable lower scale, he cajoled, "See, Rani, there's some urgent work I'd been instructed to attend without fail. Thus, I may be a bit late this morning. Please drop Jay at his school today…OK" and in the next moment switching the scale and tone, he flattered, "Jai ho, Jhansi ki rani"

He continued without awaiting and giving me any chance to say my part of the greeting to say good-morning. He would talk at length nonstop. An inherent habit he possesses. He explained me in explicit details about the route right up to the main gate of the school from the main-gate of our colony on the outskirts of Mumbai in which we're provided our residence.

He further continued, not to start the moped with key because the very first start should be a kick-start. Immediately I said, "I'll call the security guard to kick your old faithful follower, the rusted & screechy two-wheeler for your prescribed kick-start."

Notwithstanding my comments, he kept on, reminded me in warning tone, not to venture into any unfamiliar lanes and he categorically mentioned me the exact place where I should park the two-wheeler before entering the school.

Out of irritation I said, "Hey I got it. Now for god's sake spare me for I need to start my daily chores…"

Oh yeah, sure, 'Jhansi ki rani', say my 'hi' to Jay… bye and then the call got disconnected…

I smiled coyly and kept the receiver back on the cradle.

Well, we, our son Jay and I, reached school on time.

And then… As usual I returned from the school.

Dropping the handbag on the seat my eyes fell on the mobile screen. I found three missed calls. Upon checking I came to know that the calls were from the school. I immediately called back. A lady picked up and said, "Hello…"

Very instantly I said, "Is it Bright Public School?"

Yes, may I know who is calling?

Senior KG student, Jay Ganguli's mother, I received a few missed calls from the school. I said in one breath with no halts…

Yes madam, be patient, not to panic, there is some unpremeditated bandh-call of a political party. As a precaution we're sending children back home. Don't rush madam. There are a few more children too in the school. We are here waiting for you. Take care.

OK, Thank you, saying so I picked up the mobile, the moped's key and rushed out.

As I put the key to start the moped, the Nepali security guard informed, "Madamji, you forgot to lock the main door of your quarter."

O…M…G… I rushed towards the quarter on the first floor. My duplicate key was kept in the bag. My eyes started scanning all over. Where's the lock-&-key? Was it on top of the fridge, teapoy or the dining table? Eyes were rigorously detecting everywhere. Suddenly I recalled that I kept those at the back of the main door itself.

There I found both in that very bag hanging from a hook.

With a heavy sigh of relief I locked the main door, descended in a hurry. Just there near the moped the same security guard was standing. With wrinkles all over his face owing to his typical grinning, he politely said…

Take care, madamji.

"Thank you Daaju," saying so, I started the two-wheeler and then moved towards the main gate. By the time I reached near the main gate of the colony, a guard came forward and informed…

Mr. Ganguli had instructed us to tell you that one of our vehicles is going through that same route. So madamji, you please park your moped here. The vehicle is about to come in a minute or so.

I'm getting late.

But, madamji it's not advisable to go out on a moped right now. Stretching his left hand towards the incoming vehicle he said, "You don't worry madam. See that vehicle is coming."

Thank you.

Reaching near the school, I found that the main gate was closed. I entered through the small gate with a flap kind of door that revolves around a vertical axis just beside the main gate. The movable iron parts screeched. In that quiet ambience it was clearly audible.

I rushed towards the KG section. Seeing me walking fast towards the KG section, one of the school attendants beckoned me.

Jay is here, come this side madam…

Our fairly talkative son, Jay, was found with a melancholic face sitting on a small chair. The school bag was lying beneath near his dangling legs.

All the students have left Ma… He informed me with restrained voice.

Oh dear I didn't know about this. Your teacher telephoned me. After reaching home, I saw the missed calls in my mobile. Again I came to school. I'm late, my son.

Where's papa?

Your papa has sent the vehicle. He is busy now. Let's go.

Holding my hand Jay advanced towards the main gate of the school…

Certain body movements of his gait have uncanny resemblance to the body-movements of my father. I observed the same quite often.

When will papa come?

I don't know my son. He may come little late today.

As we reached near the vehicle, the driver asked Jay, "How are you Jay babu? No school today?"

Jay gave a faint smile and said, "Today is bandh."

Repeating the word 'bandh', he squirted.

His driver uncle consoled, "Never mind Jay babu. Let's go back home and you can enjoy your cartoons."

Jay enquired, "Have you seen the bandh people?"

The driver was perplexed. He said, "No, dear, I haven't."

In my school teachers and other people were talking about them. They block roads. Are the roads blocked uncle?

Don't you worry Jay babu, I've seen the roads. No block is there, we'll reach home soon.

We returned home.

I got back to my unfinished chores.

As I resumed my unfinished works, I got busy in my world and Jay too.

Suddenly I realized that there wasn't any sound. It was awkward pin-drop-silence. Normally he chatters or babbles unendingly, act like his teachers or he would watch his favourite cartoons avidly in the house. Whenever he remained silent, he would do some or the other untoward something. It happened in the past quite a number of times. Jay would engage himself with total engrossment. Once he found the razor of his father on top of the basin. And then while experimenting with that he got a small injury at the side of one of his fingers. He remained awkwardly silent at that time too.

I ran towards the passage and peeped into the living room. And there he was. He had kept a small stool and on top of that placed a small teapoy. Standing on that he was trying to take something from the top of the TV.

What are you up to?

I want that mobile.

You should have told me.

"I can get it Ma" he told this to my face.

I showed my apprehension … Oh, Jay, the stool may slip away…

And in the very next moment he fell exactly the same way what I feared just a few seconds back.

He got a cut on the chin. It was bleeding profusely. There was no point grumbling. I rushed to take the cotton plugs from the first-aid-box. I took the key and the hand-bag. Holding his chin with cotton to stop further bleeding, I called loudly for help from the neighbour's quarter.

Mrs. Singh came out. The Nepali security guard too came pantingly. I told him to call any vehicle, at-least a rickshaw, to move to the medical centre of our colony.

There wasn't any rickshaw.

Mrs. Singh suggested taking the car of the Sharma's.

At that instant Bahadur, the security guard, rushed to request Mrs. Sharma for the key.

Mrs. Sharma immediately came out with the key. Holding my breath, I drove the car to the medical centre. It was my maiden venture of driving a car for a genuine urgency.

Within a few minutes we reached the medical centre of our colony.

On the way Jay kept mum for he was very sure that it wasn't good time at all to talk.

Some stitches were applied. His chin was bandaged.

And then, Tanmay was informed.

Some speechless minutes passed. Neither Jay nor I talked about anything. I pondered. At times the most talkative souls too keep reflective silence.

I came to know from one of the staff members that Tanmay was on the way to the medical centre.

With a lot of anxiety I kept on looking at the outside through the door. Jay kept on looking at me.

I observed him carefully as he walked into the main-door. I knew that the time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. "Ten, nine, eight, seven ..."

In addition to counting numbers backwards, a part of my brain repeatedly striving haphazardly to predict what my eccentric hubby, would be asking me.

Probably, he would say. How careless you were! Didn't you notice him? …

Or perhaps he would say. You should have pondered about the safety of our child at the first place…

Or he might say. How serious the injury is?

But finally, while entering the room, he overtly pronounced, 'Thank god at least one of my advices you had taken up seriously, see the benefit of learning the tasks of driving lessons seriously, else, it would have been miserable… it's not our little suburban township, its Mumbai meri jaan.

And then he forwarded with gentle steps towards us … sat on a stool close to the bed and while patting on my back, he said… "Hey Jhansi ki rani, so you got an opportunity to prove your mettle! Long live Rani Jhansi ki …"

In that very instant I received a phone call from my mother. She enquired about the well-being of all-of-us. While talking to her, I willfully avoided mentioning the recent accident-episode. Weird though, but in that precise moment of time Tanmay & Jay, both father son duo, simply kept unfailingly quiet.

While talking to me several mundane matters, as it were, anytime mummy would talk to me for she would love to chatter to her heart's content.

Before disconnecting the call she said philosophically, "You people are like birds, some days earlier you were near Madras and now you live near Bombay… see Rani beta, Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and question papers aren't set yet."

Quietly I said, "Yes mummy… true… very true"


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