#1. On the shoulders of an Angel!
Sometimes I wonder why we meet certain people in life for just a few seconds but they leave an impression on you that can stay with you for the rest of your life. One of those impressions stayed in my brain and in my heart, which I treasure it for the rest of my life.
Here is the story…
It was when I was between 5 and 6 years old. We were living in Ameerpet and the construction of the house just started and we were renting a place right next to our new house to be. My very first best friend Durga lived there. We were 6 children going to school in a rental rickshaw.
A rickshaw in Hyderabad is not like the way you see in other parts of India! The space between the seat and the footrest is almost nothing. 3 kids would sit on the seat and 2 kids would sit on the footrest and one would sit at the back where the gap is with legs dangling, we all took turns sitting at the back which was really fun.
One particular day, it was raining so heavily the school closed and asked everyone to go home!!! It was around 2 PM or so…Not sure but all I know was almost after lunch time.
What should we all do who had scheduled pickups? Most of us were waiting in the rain for our Rickshaws, Cars, Moms or Dads to be picked up.
Ridiculous! Isn’t it?
Closing the school so we wait while it rains. But ‘Sattar’ our Rickshaw guy, wouldn’t be able to come until it is time for him to pick us up…around 3 PM or so.
We were waiting and waiting and waiting. I got fed up. I just wanted to go home. My school was near Abids and Nampalli. We lived in Ameerpet. It could probably be between 3 and 4 miles.
I decided to walk home….Yaik!!
For a child who is 5 or 6 years old to walk home in a pouring rain alone? I asked my friends to come but they wanted to wait for the rickshaw. I really wanted to go home. I just did not want to stay waiting.
So I decided to walk on my own from Stanley School to Ameerpet. Ha Ha Ha!!!
Some of you may know where these places are and how far it is. You guys may be thinking
“Are you crazy? Why in the hell would you walk by your self like that?”
Well, the answer to your assumed question was…
”Yes. I was crazy, stupid and stubborn and had an adventurous spirit that guided me”
In any case, I started to walk towards Ameerpet. Thinking back, I don’t even understand now…why I thought I could get home at such a young age by myself. What was I thinking?
The fact was, I did not even think, not even once. I Just kept walking in that heavily pouring rain. I must have started walking around 2 or 2:30. If I could have only waited for another 30 minutes for my rickshaw…hmmm…well then I wouldn’t be able to tell this story right?
So I kept walking and it took me almost God knows how many hours in that rain and at one point near Erramanzil I had to stop. I just could not move a muscle.
All I wanted was to get home. Not sure how I could do that after seeing this flowing water, like a tropical cyclone (Sudigundam). I stopped and kept looking at the gush of water.
The entire street was filled with water flowing like an ocean wave. There were manholes where the water was flowing towards with gusto (sudigundam) . Just writing about it is making me feel like it just happened the other day and giving me goosebumps right now. I was still for a few minutes while looking at the water as if I was paralyzed.
Some of you may be thinking how would you remember that at age 5 or 6. Believe me, I remember it as if it just happened. Like watching a scene on a big screen.
Suddenly I saw…
An old man with sun-scorched dark skin without any slippers wearing a 'Pancha' which is up to his knees and no shirt but he had a white 'Talapaga' (Turban) which was drenched in rain. He sees me and comes and asks me where I was going.
I just looked at the other side with my glossy eyes where the water was almost up to my shoulders and looked back at him with a confused face. I did not say a word.
He understood and picked me up and put me on his shoulders and crossed that dangerous flowing water by walking slowly. Once he reached the other side he slowly put me down. I looked up at him and then I looked at the road ahead and started walking. While walking I looked back and he was standing there with an angelic smile.
I started walking. After another hour of walking, I somehow reached home.
Now comes the really scary part. When I reached home the entire neighborhood was at my place. I saw all the kids came by the rickshaw already. My mom was crying and everyone had an extremely worried face. Once they saw oh my God…every one yelled at the same time.
That was scary.
I just want you to imagine the commotion then. My mom just came running and held me so tight and kept hugging and kissing while crying. After that scene was done…can anyone guess what happened?
That is right I got scolded by everyone., right after those hugs and kisses. Sorry for making you suffer Amma. I do know what you went through now, even though I had no clue then. So what was this about? Why did I do what I did? How did I survive that? I probably would have drowned in one of those manholes if that angel did not rescue me. Why did that happen? Did I learn anything from it? But I was still a stubborn child back then.
My daughter says, I still am. 'Stubborn' that is… not a child though!!
Well, she would debate on that, she being my grandma and all…
Bottom line. All I can say was…not sure if angels exist but some energy was watching over me. That old man, I can never forget the way he appeared and the way he carried me on his shoulders, the way he looked while I looked back, aaaah..I guess this is one of those “Aaah moments” which I cannot explain.
Maybe he owed me that from his past life or Maybe in my next life I will be helping him. Ha Ha Ha…Only we don’t know what happens after we die. But it is nice to think that we can take care of our past dues in our next life so we don’t have to feel guilty for accepting help from others.
This also depicts how safe life used to be for kids in those days.