Flash Fiction by Mehak Nain
Rinku is travelling in a train for the first time. The commotion outside doesn’t seem to bother her. Her Appa* has managed to make her stand beside the window inside the small room. There is something written on the door, but she cannot read and doesn’t sweat the details anyway. She has never been to a school. Her Appa says she is too precious to go to one. And the way her neighbour Partik shrieks in the morning, she is certain that school is not a good place.
Oblivious of the fact that there are no seats inside, at least not the ones you get in an actual compartment, she stands there holding the iron bars with seven fingers. No, five fingers and two thumbs. The remaining three fingers wrapped around her tikat*. Appa says it’s not the train, but the tikat that will take them to the place they were going. The tation* is a delight to watch. It’s like thousand spaces merged into one, each different from the other yet blending somehow. That so many people chose to wear red that day, she grunts in disapproval. She never liked red.
Not that she always hated red. It was her favourite colour last year for full three months. But then, things can’t stay the same, can they? It is even more difficult with colours. Her red ball had stopped being fascinating and Partik had got a yellow car. Yellow paved way to green only a month later when he wouldn’t let her touch the car.
Now she has decided that she will never ask Appa for a car. He was right. This train is so much bigger than the cars that ply on the road. No wonder Appa hated driving the car for Saheb*. But being the nice man that he is, he still did. Maybe the Saheb didn’t know how to drive. She also finds it strange that Saheb’s wife cannot cook. Partik’s mother has to go to their place for cooking lest they starve — poor family!
Ever since he came home yesterday, Appa had started packing frantically. His face was swollen. Just like Rinku’s when she is sulking. Appa’s hand was bleeding too. Another reason not to like red. She didn’t mind leaving the place. It was not their home, Appa had told her. She doesn’t remember what her home looked like. There might have been a television. Maybe not. She was sure there were trees. She would miss playing with Partik though.
The train has started racing between the tracks. A sense of exhilaration has engulfed Rinku. She wished Partik could see her inside the train and she could see the look on his face. Everything is perfect. Well, near perfect. Only if the train was not red.
*Appa — Father
*Tikat — Ticket
*Saheb — Boss
Mehak Nain is a government servant. An avid reader herself, she loves to read books with her six-year -old. The views expressed above are personal.
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