Please read the first part “Red & White” before reading further.
It had been raining since the night. Sarika had heard a lot about water logged roads and slippery tracks on the Valkyrie mountains. She insisted they take their own vehicle to the palin top where her classmates were planning to hike. But none agreed. They found it fun to go by the public transport and then climb up on the top, despite the rains. Sarika hated rains and all the filth it brought with it. Afterall, being born in a super rich family, she had all the luxuries at her door step. She was born with a golden spoon with diamonds studded all over. She could have studied in any school and university in the world. And yet her father had chosen to send her to the vedic high school just on the outskirts of the Jaisingpur. “You’ll learn life.” He had told her. And now she was about to learn travelling in a public transport, walk 3 miles and learn hiking in a heavy down pour. It was already making her sick.
Sarika was standing in balcony of her room on the first floor of the Jethmalani’s palatial bungalow. A thick sheet of glass separated her from the splashing rain outside. She was looking at the infinite number of small water droplets trying to make contact with her. But they were being sheeted by the glass window. She wondered if this was how she was raised, as a protected, pampered kid all these 19 years. The Jethmalanis were fond of Sarika. But the fondness had gone too far for her. Her dad believed that she might end up spending an aimless life if she was not taught the difference between earning and demanding. The word struggle was out of her dictionary. And that is why he enrolled her in the school, which he believed could help her in moulding the way she wanted to live her life.
With her back pack over her shoulders, Sarika hoped down from the large, spiralling stairways in the sprawling drawing room of the bungalow. Her driver was patiently waiting for ‘Sara baby’ so that he could drop her to the bus stop. Since no one was going to be there to hold her umbrella, Sarika preferred to carry a rain coat. She was getting late. Her mobile had hummed couple of times already. She pulled the coat out and started to put it on as she sat on the back seat of the A6. The driver quickly rushed as they were late already. The bus stop was at about a 10 min drive from her bungalow. Sarika lost again in the droplets falling on her wind shield. The wipers of the Audi were busy swishing the new sheet of water off the safety glass as the rain splashed onto them. But their attempt to clarify the drivers vision through the wind shield was quickly nullified by the oncoming sheet of new water droplets. The argument continued, much like the one between Sarika and her father.
Thankfully the rain had nearly stopped by the time Sarika reached the bus stop. The bus was about to leave. Damn this compulsory picnic, she thought as she got out of the car and stepped in a small pool of water. Half of her left shoe was wet. Shit! she shouted as she paced herself towards the bus. The new vehicle she was about to board was a stark contrast to the one she was getting out of. It was a green and white bus with its parts barely tied together by a few nuts and metal strips. It was roaring 10 times louder than the food processor in the Jethmalani kitchen. And it was already dirty from outside with lot of mud plastered on its body. I hate you Dad! What a piece of bull crap is this? Why are you doing this to me? Gosh! Sarika was getting furious with her dad. She almost decided to turn back when some one from inside the bus waved his hand and asked her to hop on. Sarika immediately recognised him as her sports teacher. After all he was the one who had organised this. Sarika had to hop on.
If the bus looked bad from outside, it was horrible from inside. It was already packed and few of the passengers were standing in the alley. A stinking smell dominated the air inside the air less compartment. Sarika immediately pulled a towel from her back pack. Couple of familiar faces were waving towards her form the back seats. But she wondered how she was going to make it to them with few men already standing in the alley between the two rows of the seats. Just as she was figuring it out, a loud voice instructed her to move up. The conductor of the bus was getting furious at her for blocking the way.
“Why, cant you talk to me properly?” She darted back at him.
“Why? Do you own this bus? Just get moving…”
“Hello Mister, no one talks to me like that. You know I can…”
“Hello… even if you are a daughter of the prime minister, you will have to move on. And if you have so much problem with the bus, go buy yourself a car. Now keep moving!”
Sarika’s reply was cut before it came out by a jab on her shoulder. One of her classmates was pulling her back. As she turned, she made eye contact with her teacher, who asked her to occupy the seat they had reserved for her. Sarika was obviously upset, but decided to settle down for the sake of courtesy as the bus chugged out of the stop. And she was back staring outside the window, now sans the rainfall.
For an old horse like that bus, it gathered good speed immediately it hit the open road. As the festive mood grew on the young passengers from her college, Sarika’s classmates started playing antakshari. But she was not interested. She found playing sudoku on her Motorola much enjoyable than singing songs on top of the voices. She hated loud noise. Mean while the bus had now left the city limits and was now navigating around the hair pin bends or the Vilsa ghats. It was about a 20 kms stretch between the jungles jungles of Gonn forests, all filled with numerous small water falls finally joining the Chena river. As the navigation became harder, the engine noise became louder. Add to that the classmates were now in full force and singing even more loudly. Enough! Thought Sarika. The noise was becoming too much for her. She could see the conductor still arguing with a fellow passenger over some petty change. I guess I should go and sit some where on the front, she thought. With some difficulty she got out of the seat and came on the alley.
Just as she was preparing to walk ahead, a loud noise caught every one’s attention. Before she could realise, the bus began to sway. Suddenly Sarika got pushed straight on the conductor standing in front of her and her vision was blocked. She realised some one else fell on her feet. There was another loud noise, another push and suddenly every thing went black…
To be continued.