A Train Journey
It was December 1996. I had completed my BTech course at GECT and was sitting at home. I had got a job offer from Wipro GE Medical Systems, Bangalore. There was also a GATE exam score by which I could go for higher studies in various institutes in India. As always, I never had a very exact and strong view and decision on what I should be doing and which way I should go. I never lead a planned way of life. I was always like a kind of log floating in a river. I am not saying it is a bad way or good way of living. But I like it that way.
It so happened that I floated to a decision of going for a job. I hadn't received any offer letter hard copies till then from the company (in fact the concept of sending a "soft copy" was unknown to me then). The company people had sent the offer letter through a courier service. The courier agency could not locate my home as we didn't have a telephone at our home that time. They returned the letter to the sender. Since the courier office was at Chalakkudy, I had few trips to there to make enquiries regarding this, and each time came back after watching some movie. Apparently, three other students from my class also had got offers from the same company, and as per their advice, I ventured to make telephone calls to the HR of the company in order to receive the offer letter. My proficiency in English language communication was not so great, so, other than loosing around a hundred rupees in making STD calls, there was not much positive outcome from this.
Eventually, it was decided that I will go without an offer letter. December 4th was decided as the date of journey. Going to Bangalore was like going to Moon for me, as I had never travelled a long distance before, neither had I stayed a long time away from Home till then. I was a bit tense of various logistic issues. I decided to travel with my classmate Sunil, who was also going to join the same company. Sunil's home was at Pattampi, and so it was decided that we will meet at Shornur, and then go together from there by train. Ticket booking was taken care by Sunil.
I was supposed to leave at 2 in the afternoon on 4th. My mother packed my bags and suite case (This famous suite case was bought by my uncle, and I am still using it). The bottle of coconut oil, soaps, brush, paste, mirror, shirts, all was put into my bag and I watched all the packing process sadly. My sister went to school in the morning and I stood at the gate and watched her walking and disappearing at the turn in the road. Then my mother prepared Idli and packed it with dry coconut chutney for my dinner.
At 11 a telephone call came for me at the neighboring house. It was from Sunil, and he told that the travel has been extended for one week, as he talked with the HR regarding the joining date. I can never forget the happiness I felt in this one week extension I got. My bag was dumped in a corner. The packed Idli was taken out and I ate it for lunch. Idli never tasted as good as that. At 4:30, when I saw my sister coming home, I hid somewhere and heard her asking my mother sadly :"Has he left?"
But that one week went fast. So, on 11th of December, I started with my father with all the bags and stuff. We took a bus to Thrissur. I can still remember the way we walked through the Wadakke Bus Stand (I was thinking of the days I waited at the bus stand, for the bus to Pallimoola). We took the bus to Shornur, and during the bus journey, my father was talking to me of various things. Shornur was a place where I spent my days as a kid, and I have some vague memories of the place. We reached the railway station and waited for Sunil. My father told that he knew some shop in the railway station where they sold very tasty Vada and Sambar which he used to take when he was posted in Kozhikkode. (He used to come via Shornur). We went to the shop and had Vada Sambar. Then we could see Sunil and his relatives coming. The train arrived within few minutes.
I have read somewhere (or in a movie) that there is some point in everybody's life when he could say that his Childhood is completely over. On that day, when the train started moving, and I saw my father waving his hands standing in the platform, I didn't realize that that was the particular moment in my life. (A pretty long childhood of 21 years!)
I remember there was one person sitting next to us in the compartment reading some film magazines, and we peeped into the magazines sometime. In the night, I thought I could never sleep, But eventually I fell asleep. In the morning when I woke up and opened my bag, I was surprised to see that the coconut oil in the bottle has frozen. Bangalore was so cold that day, and I had never seen coconut oil freezing before.
Few days back I was discussing with Sunil about the Television actors in Malayalam. He mentioned that he has seen an actress called "Neena Kurup" and she was there in the train on that day. I thought of that memorable journey when he told about this.