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Short Story : Acclimatize

Nipun and his sister were the introverted new comers in the colony. They had come down from one of those north eastern states where even availability of new brands of ice creams (which appeared each night as advertisements on the sole state television channel after the daily dose of abysmal news telecast) was a luxury to say the least.

Father had a transferable job, so every 3-5 years they were forced to leave their best friends back and move on to a new, strange place, with new rules, a new weather, a new school uniform and it's curriculum. Sports had always interested him as it channelized his nervous energies, all his internal conversations into some form of energy. 

Sometimes spending energy on the ground helps you not have the energy to think about a haphazard life with no control over your surroundings.

Sports made him switch off his social brain and just execute tasks to the best of his ability. He was not strategic about sports, it was not really the team work or the figh…

Short Story : Waiting List





Ramya was in her 8th grade and this year her dad had promised her that they will go see the mountains in the northern part of the country during her summer vacations.

Ramya's dad, Saran was was a middle class hardworking serviceman and had accumulated his leaves and had saved some money, planned a trip to the Himalayan mountains during the scorching hot Indian summer, a good time to cool off.

He had even made all the bookings but one, which was the railway travel bookings that happened only 2 months in advance and the rush was crazy.

Getting confirmed bookings was almost like winning the lottery in those high in demand trains during the summers when the whole of the country went to meet relatives, went on trips to see the beautiful countryside, mountains, the gorgeous beaches, you name it.

The bookings were for the month of May and Ramya just couldn't help contain her excitement as it would be her first visit to the mountains of Shimla & Manali (a popular destination in northern state of Himachal in India).

Saran had attempted to book tickets on the exact date, 2 months prior to their trip date and had only managed to get wait-listed tickets, which meant they had not got the confirmed bookings. This was a bummer.

Saran also planned to get those tatkal emergency seats (tatkal literally meaning "immediately") which gave an option of booking 7 days before their journey but was a gamble to be frank. The other option was he could hope that their wait-listed seat numbers of 5,6 and 7 would be confirmed.

If getting confirmed tickets was winning a lottery, getting tatkal bookings was like winning a lottery without even buying lottery tickets.

The hotel bookings and other bookings were done so they had to figure this bit out soon.

Air tickets were expensive and they were already short on cash for the trip. Air tickets meant, they would have to cut down on other things. So it was a trade off.

Ramya meanwhile had long detailed dreams, each and every night on the run up to the trip - of playing in snow clad mountains, dressed like a polar bear, building a snow-man. She had already started writing her diary entries, capturing her much awaited trip, the excitement and how much it meant to her.

Her exams began in the month of April and all that she could think of was the things she will eat, things she will buy and the things she would wear when in the mountains.

Well you see, for people who live in coastal areas, in crowded cities; for them, the mountains are a very different experience. Cooler temperatures, sparsely populated, calm.

But the Waiting list had not slid even a single spot. It is not common for even these single digit wait-lists to not get confirmed on the day of the journey.

Ramya on the other hand kept progressing with her dreams. She had always lived near the sea and higher altitudes, cooler temperatures, snow capped landscapes, picturesque sunrises, old houses with chimneys and ice-cream not melting one bit, were the luxuries less experienced by her.

She studied hard, finished her exams but the wait-lists not moving was a matter of concern and everyday she used to ask her dad about what would happen if it did not get confirmed, to which her dad would simply smile and calmly respond that "it will".

"It will !!!!??" - vaguely assuring though it was, but it was not a sufficient enough response to digest fully. She needed more.

Details around how ? when ? and other plans around it. If needed a plan B !!
She wanted to know more. But she was just told that it will.

Finally her exams ended just 3 days before their train was about to depart for Shimla. And the first thing she asked when she came back fro school and rang the doorbell; even before entering through the door was, "did our tickets get confirmed ?" To which her dad said a simple "not yet !"

That's it ! She had had enough ! This was it.

Now she was irritated and very angry. She was always getting these half baked, disinterested responses and so she started literally shouting and ranting to her parents,

...about how they have wasted the entire time hoping those tickets will be confirmed and how they have let her down and how this trip means everything to her and how she would now sit and do nothing throughout her holidays....and so on...

She even said nasty things like they did not love her enough, did not want to see her happy or did not take her holidays, her dream of going on the trip to the mountains seriously.
She was howling and crying loudly throughout.

The rant lasted a full hour at the end of which she just went and slept off tired and teary eyed only to wake up a few minutes later to find the air tickets next to her pillow.

She could not believe her eyes. She opened and saw that the tickets had been booked even before her exams had begun.

She went and hugged her dad and her mom, and then reluctantly took back her hurtful words, also realizing why her parents were smiling all through her rant. But she did not understand as to why did they hide this ?

She even asked why they never told her about the tickets, to which her dad said that true unadulterated happiness doesn't reside in getting things without a struggle.
It is always the journey that makes anything worthwhile ! Nobody remembers the destination as clearly as the journey ! Especially a successful one.

Not that he wanted her to struggle but he wanted her to long for it, enough to feel the real satisfaction around it.
Things which are achieved without much of a struggle also give us a lot of happiness, but the ones that make us long for it, play hard to get are the ones that really stick in our subconscious.

They test out character.

They make us realize their importance, in their very absence from our life. They pinch us, hit us hard and make us tougher !

Those memories, those emotions in our heart, remind us to be forever indebted to those little moments of happiness, of experiencing those in reality, and also the merit of the journey that makes them a reality.

And the ones that dont come to us even after all the struggle, leave us with a lasting memory, a lesson learnt -  that is unmatched. These are the real pillars of our life !

Not that Saran wanted her daughter to suffer, cry or get hurt, but he just wanted her to remember the lesson that wait-lists happen in real life too and not all can be overcome that easily !

Author's Notes: a work of fiction and his/her personal opinions reflected









Comments

  1. You are a good story teller .

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  3. Simple and good!! so relatable... might have happened or could have happened to any of us 90's kids from the middle class households!!!

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  5. Very good post. You have penned down a nice short story. Keep up the good work.

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