Scratch A Rock

We Forgot The Pram

Posted in It's Not Supposed To Rhyme by Bharat Iyer on May 3, 2010

He watched as the driver secured their suitcases to the rack on the roof with strips of nylon cord.‭  ‬The driver tugged the knots one final time to make sure they were tight and turned to him.
‭     ‬“All done sir,‭”‬ he said.

‭     ‬He nodded back.‭  ‬“We‭’‬ll leave in a minute.‭”

     He crushed his cigarette against the eucalyptus tree that grew outside their compound wall and threw the stub into a pile of dried lives lying next to it.‭  ‬With a glance at his watch he walked back into the house where the baby lay in its pram in the front room and his wife was doing rounds of all the rooms to make sure nothing got left behind.

‭     ‬“We‭’‬re going to miss the train now,‭”‬ he said.‭  ‬“I told you to be done by one.‭  ‬It‭’‬s ten past already.‭”

     “Just a minute.‭  ‬I just want to make sure we‭’‬ve got everything.‭ ‬That‭’‬s all.‭  ‬A minute.‭”

     “I told you.‭  ‬God,‭ ‬we‭’‬ll miss the train.‭”

     “There.‭  ‬I‭’‬m done.‭  ‬Hold the baby,‭ ‬I‭’‬ll lock up.‭”

     He took the baby from her and stood next to the‭ ‬door watching her lock up,‭ ‬the baby tugging at his collar,‭ ‬the weight of it solid and tangible in his arms,‭ ‬pushing them down.

‭     ‬“I have to give the keys to the Goels,‭”‬ she said to him as they walked out of the porch,‭ ‬past the wrought iron gate and into the driveway where the taxi waited.

‭     ‬“Fine.‭  ‬Don‭’‬t take forever.‭  ‬It‭’‬s a quarter past one already.‭”

     He got into the taxi and watched his wife hand the keys to their neighbor,‭ ‬holding her hand and smiling and nodding to what she was saying.‭  ‬The baby was still in his hands and he adjusted his hold on it so all the weight didn‭’‬t fall on his arm.‭   

     “New Delhi Railway Station,‭”‬ he said to the driver when his wife returned,‭ ‬“Ajmeri Gate side.‭”

     “Right sir,‭”‬ he replied and started the engine.

‭     ‬They sped down the Nizamuddin Bridge and then past the crumbling stone walls and towers of the Purana Qila,‭ ‬derelict and forgotten extensions and annexes scattered around the landscape,‭ ‬the traffic thin and sparse under the burning noon sun.‭   

     He looked at his wife as she lay asleep with her head against the window,‭ ‬the baby in her lap,‭ ‬sweat running down her face,‭ ‬the armpits of her kameez dark and wet,‭ ‬and turned back to look at the walls and towers of the fort,‭ ‬fenced in by a concrete parapet with metal railings mounted on it,‭ ‬surrounded by the bungalows of civil servants,‭ ‬people lying in the lawns with their arms underneath their heads and wet handkerchiefs on their faces.

‭     ‬They reached the station with half an hour to spare.

‭     ‬“Siddharth,‭”‬ his wife said as they stood at the entrance while the driver unloaded their luggage.

‭     ‬“What‭?‬”

     “We forgot the pram.‭”


     “We left the pram in the house.‭ ‬We forgot it.‭”

     “There‭’‬s nothing we can do now.‭ ‬Count the bags,‭ ‬we‭’‬ll‭ ‬need a coolie.‭”

     Coolies had already begun approaching them upon seeing their luggage and they engaged one after a little bargaining.‭

     “I can‭’‬t believe we forgot the pram,‭”‬ she said as they followed the coolie to their platform.

‭     ‬“Yeah,‭ ‬well.‭ ‬ You forgot,‭ ‬we can‭’‬t go back for it now.‭ ‬Forget it.‭”

     “Yeah.‭ ‬With all your rushing and everything,‭ ‬it completely slipped off my mind.‭”

     “God‭’‬s sake,‭ ‬we were getting late.‭  ‬We‭’‬re lucky there was no traffic on the way.‭  ‬We‭’‬re real lucky.‭”

     “I know.‭ ‬I know.‭  ‬I‭’‬m just saying,‭”‬ she said.‭

     They wove through the crowd in the station,‭ ‬struggling to keep up with the coolie who moved at a steady pace with practiced ease.‭ 

     Inside the train the heat was choking and stifling.‭  ‬The generators‭ ‬hadn‭’‬t been started and the fans were not working.‭ 

     “I don‭’‬t know how we‭’‬d have fitted the pram in.‭  ‬There‭’‬s barely space.‭”

     “Yeah,‭ ‬sure,‭”‬ he replied and uncrossed his legs so people could pass through,‭ ‬“listen,‭ ‬forget the pram.‭  ‬It‭’‬s just a pram,‭ ‬we‭’‬ll get a new one.‭”

     “Right.‭ ‬Yeah.‭”

     “I gotta go.‭ ‬I‭’‬ll be back,‭”‬ he said and rose from his seat.

‭     ‬“Where‭’‬re you going‭?‬”

     “Nowhere.‭ ‬I‭’‬ll be here.‭ ‬I‭’‬ll be right back.‭”‬    

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