By SAVITRI NARAYANAN
“Enough, Raju, switch off the TV now!” said Malti as she cleared the breakfast table, “Get ready for your online class!”
“What is there to get ready? Here is my book, I am ready!” said Raju.
“Don’t waste time, beta, change into your uniform! I will switch on the data.”
Raju was amused at the way mummy insisted he wore his uniform for online classes. “Mummy, it’s lockdown, why the uniform?” he had asked.
Raju had just been promoted to Class II but hadn’t got a chance to be in school in his new uniform and meet his friends. Life was getting very boring with the online classes. Papa would be already at his computer when Raju brushed his teeth. He usually had morning shift. Some days he would be gone to office before Raju woke up. Soon after breakfast, mummy would start off Raju’s class and rush to her computer in the bedroom. Once in a while she came out to help him with his work or post a question to his teacher. If at home, Papa too would peep over Raju’s work and comment to mummy about his handwriting or how his teacher must improve the quality of the online classes.
“If only dadiji could come!” thought Raju wistfully. She stayed at Ramnagar with Govind chacha so Umesh and Suman had all the fun. Dadiji made besan laddus, played carom and told stories. The plan was for Raju to spend the summer vacation in Ramnagar. With his cousins he had made many plans but everything went down the drain due to the lockdown!
“Raju, I have an online meeting today,” mummy was in a hurry as she placed a glass of juice and an apple next to him, “Have this after the first two periods, ok? Lunch is on the table, when class is done, eat and take a nap. This meeting may take a long time.”
Then came the message that the day’s online classes were cancelled! “Wish Dadiji were here,” thought Raju, “She would make ‘vada pav’ and tell Hanuman’s stories!”
“Why can’t I walk down to Ramnagar!” thought Raju, “It can’t be far. It is somewhere near the samosa shop after the traffic signal,” Raju told himself and quietly opened the front door.
There were not many vehicles on the road. Raju walked to the traffic signal but the samosa shop wasn’t there. Had the shop locked down too? Where to turn to Ramnagar?
“Which is the way to Ramnagar?” he asked a passerby who ignored the question. But a taxi driver slowed down and pulled to the curb.
“Are you alone? Where are you going?”
“Will you take me to Ramnagar? To my dadiji’s house?”
“Where are your parents?”
“Papa went to office. Mummy is online meeting. I am going to dadiji’s house”.
The taxi driver thought for a while and signalled the traffic policeman, “Let me ask him, he knows the way.”
Very soon the traffic policeman came down. “Come with me”, he said holding Raju’s hand, “Who else is there at dadiji’s house?”
Raju was shocked to find himself in the police station. It was a small room with some policemen in uniforms. But they were very kind. Gave him juice and biscuits and asked him many questions.
“Where do you live?”
“In the blue house with the brown gate next to the mandir.”
“Where does your father work?”
“In the IT Park.”
“Do you know their companies’ names?”
“Do you go to school?”
“Of course I do! Rainbow English School. I am in Class I, my teacher’s name is Miss Rose Mary and my Principal’s name is Miss Fernandez and there are 24 students in my class. Do you know the way to Ramnagar? ”
The policeman looked happy, ignored the question and started making phone calls. Raju looked out of the window at the vehicles passing by and soon fell asleep.
“Let’s go home,” his mother was in tears as she hugged him. “Thanks a million for saving my son,” she told the policeman.
“Thank the school principal who connected you”, he said, “and when the lockdown is over do take our hero to his dadiji’s house in Ramnagar.”
It is said that God comes in different forms – a phone call, an email, a lottery ticket, an appointment letter or a lottery ticket. For the Reddy family of Mysore Road, he came disguised as a taxi driver and a traffic policeman!