On the Road

I have been feeling rather triumphant since yesterday. Reason? I finally dragged my mom to a movie with me, just the two of us. Yes it is a joyous moment considering my mom’s antipathy for films. So, no matter who was on its last legs or wailing to bits on the screen, I held on to my happy grin!

It’s a two hours drive to the city, which means four hours in the car to catch a two and a half hours of movie!  Not that I am complaining. I have rather gotten used to it. The car stereo beats to my Dad’s old Hindi music collection which the driver shuffles every minute or so, much to my irritation. I am urged to ask him to keep his hands to the steering wheel, but then I wonder how much I would hate to drive to the tune of just any track. It’s only fair to let him come across what he believes to be the perfect driving song. So I let him be. With tea gardens canvassing the view outside my window, I take the time to tune out from the car and glide through the thought bubbles in my head.

Since the last 7 years, I have driven through sun shine and rain on this road. It brings me home for a month of happy luxury affair. And it also takes me away to the small airport from where begins the flight to months of independent abode. I have grown from the naïve girl who couldn’t do without mom to the brave girl who still can’t do without her but has learnt how to.

I glance at my mom, sitting in a little distance from me in the same car seat. From the corner of her eye, she catches my glance and turns to face me, seemingly oblivious of my thoughts. I can’t help but marvel at how she always looks so calm, so unwearied. The square rimmed glasses that she had taken to wearing lately slightly concealed the dark patch of skin beneath her eyes. A stark reminder that she was growing older with every summer vacation, every road trip. I sighed.

We drive past the small make shift market where fishermen sell their catch, after probably toiling all day in the sea. Bihu, the main festival of Assam, is celebrated for weeks. We catch glimpses of the celebration:  two stages decorated for an overnight function. Young girls clad in sarees giggle past us. My mom remarks every now and then, about what we come across on the road. I listen.

In spite of complaints about her sore legs, she had chosen to take a day out with me. I wonder why she couldn’t have said no. Why didn’t she push back the plan? And at the very moment when I see her smile, I just can’t decide what touched me more. My happy grin was promptly back.

I probably dwelled on her the entire time since I did not realize when we crossed the few miles of beaten road and parked our way home. Tired but nevertheless, happy!

Sarita Santoshi