[This was ten years back when cellphones were uncommon and a girl driving kinetic Honda on Delhi roads was a big scene]
Taan Karke [That’s Why?]
Archana’s kainee (Kinetic Honda Scooter) took a turn at a speed of 60 kmph (kilometer per hour). Archana tilted her sitting body posture and her kainee in style to take care of the high speed. Just at few yards away her friend’s place’s gate was visible. She removed the ignition key at the distance, and applied the brakes which gave a sound of style, and let go the clutch – her style – bringing the speed from 60 kmph to 0 kmph. With a skidding stylish noise the kainee finally halts at the gate, propounding her arrival which doesn’t need to press the doorbell. Aunti came running, “Oye! Achoo, it’s you. Main Sochya koi munda hega bike te (I thought some guy has come on bike)”. She gave her a broad buttered Punjabi smile while she took off her helmet and pushed down the heavy knob of kainee’s stand down with her foot engulfed in sports shoes.
“Ritu , Achoo is here” auntie’s sweet screeching invited her friend to join her in the drawing cum dinning room.
“Achoo, you are my hero” auntie said while Archana sank herself in Sofa.
“Aap mujhe parandhe par white butter nahi doge kaya?[won’t you give me white butter on the parantha?” Achoo snapped.
“Aap meri buttering kar raho ho [because you are buttering me]” she giggled.
“O nai vai” her punjabi smile was stagnant on her face. “I really like you. Tell me Achoo, doesn’t your dad feel scared because you drive Kinetic Honda on Delhi roads”
“He died 3 years back. I am hungry Aap kya banoge” Achoo changed the topic in one sentence.
“Taan Karke, I am sorry Achoo” She said though and left for kitchen understanding her pity and Ritu barbed in. “Oyee! Tere barah ak baje bajte hain”
“Nop! I was dreaming more than sleeping”
This was the second time Archana visited Ritu’s place. First time, it was for five minutes to exchange some books and drop Ritu to her place after the movie. Ritu’s mom called Archana many a times to come for lunch.
“Why don’t you tell your mom to buy you a car?” Ritu’s mom brought hot parantha garnished with a big ice cream sized scoop of white butter ready to afloat in the melted self.
Water in her mouth jumped out and was almost ready to clap when she had first bite. But she applied the brakes halting the enjoyment to enjoy the yummy taste and questioned the question, “Car? Why?”
“You will get a nice guy” Ritu’s mom tone was scrutinizing and carried a sweet order.
“I bought it on my own” Achoo applied as she galloped the bite leaving enjoyment at bay.
“OOOOOOOO, Taan karke [That’s why]” auntie sighed of great relief, her understanding got crystal cleared.
“Hello”, Ritu’s father joined everyone on the table
“Don’t you get scared? There is so much traffic on Delhi roads”
“How you Dad allowed you to buy one?”
“He died three years back”
“I am sorry” Uncle felt numb and whispered his answer.
“It’s OK Uncle. Auntie one more parantha for me” Achoo smiled of strange god gifted confidence and sounded like a father herself.
“Ik parantha mennu vi [One parantha for me too]” Uncle said in normal voice.
Achoo went away after an hour of lunch table chatting. On her third visit, a very much concerned uncle and aunti ensured that she understood few practical titbits as her dad is no more, her mother is sick and her only younger brother is not having an age of understanding nity grities of wonders of delhi people mindset.
“We will ensure Ritu should do B. Ed after her graduation. We will buy her a car and a cellphone once she finishes the course. A family in Delhi prefers there daughter in law to be a teacher. It’s a good job one earns money, have half a day home and it goes with all status families.” Uncle said to Achoo and auntie nodded head in consent on every word he delivered of the guidance.
“But Uncle, I save my money and time in commuting. How much time I will waste if I will go in Delhi Buses?” Archana argued.
“Tell your mother to buy a car for you.”
“Uncle, we have given upper floor of the house on rent and I give tuitions, we just can’t afford a car and moreover a car will demand more petrol and it’s big and can’t go in small lanes. I am much comfortable with my kainee because I can easily go to lanes and bylanes of Karol bagh.”
“Karol Bagh on scooter…” Uncle’s voice carried a shock. He shrugged his shoulders, lightly shook his both hands in the air on too much wrong that has taken place, “Karol bagh has all the bad guys on the road”
“Taan karke gadi wich jana chaide” Auntie said with a ordered beat of screeching at the end of each word.
“But I always wear a full face covered black helmet and a long win-shitter that hides my hairs and wear jeans and sport shoes. Everyone thinks I am a guy who is driving kainee.”
“Taan karke newspaper which nai chappya ki Achoo kainee challandi haigi” Aunti laughed afterwords hilariously as if she is present in a laughing class.
Uncle was amused by the answer but he pushed back his thoughts, “People prefer a daughter in law who prefers to wear Salwar-Kameez. Imagine yourself driving a car wearing Salwar-Kameez, people will start walking in your house with the Rishta’s. I hope you don’t want to give your mother any pain. If you don’t have money, you take money from me. I will charge lesser interest compared to banks”
“No Uncle, I like kainee and my mother is never in pain, she always smiles and let me smile no matter what”
“Taan karke” Auntie grimed at her confidence.
Few months later, on one usual day Achoo’s brother Honey came back home from jog. He felt temperature and nauseatic after the breakfast of heavy gobhi parathas. He took self medication – a prednisalone , a paracetamol and a multivitamin tablets. After an hour he was feeling breathlessness.
“I feel choked”, he spoke his words helplessly to Achoo who was watching TV and thought her brother is pretending as always or it is his new game of fun.
“You just can’t fool me any more”, she looked at him grinningly though doubting at the pain reflecting in his eyes.
He went near her and grabbed her hand and kept on his forehead. Achoo felt the stiffness in his hands and the sweat and heat on the forehead.
“Come quick, just sit behind me and hold me tightly” She rushed and started her kainee
She jumped to the nearest lanes of Karolbagh – in a residential area of the famous doctor. Being a Sunday, it was a complete stupidity to head towards any hospital. A doctor, a known family friend denied the presence communicated by the wife, but Achoo barbed the door and her eyes grabbed the white collar of eyes the doctor who was standing there only.
“Achoo I can’t…..”
“Save my brother,” her eyes tightened the white collars of his eyes ready to choke them forever.
His wife tried intervening, “Take him to some hospital, if something went wrong we will be held responsible”
“Just save him”, Achoo’s voice thundered. She roared breaths of agitation enough for the doctor’s wife to run inside the house dispensary to search for an anti-allergic vial and come back in quick nano seconds. Doctor gave the injection after few queries about medicine and the food and family history (which he forgot totally).
“It was an allergic reaction because of prednisalone” Doctor said as he curbed the paralytic attack that started on the face of Honey after the choking face was over.
Honey’s life was saved and Archana brought him home after half an hour.
Ritu’s mom called Archana’s mother, “Thank god, Honey is saved”
“Doctor said, if Achoo would have delayed for ten second ……..” she started crying.
“Please calm down…why think on something that has not taken place.” Ritu’s mother spoke soothing words.
Archana mother wiped her tear, composed herself and said , “Doctor said Thanks to Achoo and her driving skills else she wouldn’t have managed to reach fast at his residence amidst traffic jams and small congested lanes of Karol bagh. Had it been a car…..” She started crying again.
“Taaan Karke….” Ritu’s mother soothed her own thoughts.