Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Taking the responsibility

( TC in the below text, refers to Ticket Checker)

I don't remember exactly how old I was, maybe in early teens. We had gone for vacations to uncles house, and it was time to come back. Unfortunately we did not have confirmed reservations, and we were supposed to get in to the compartment and fend for ourselves. But such things never bothered me, because parents were to take care of all this, and we just did what they told us to.

But this time was little different, dad was not there. Mom, my two sisters, my aunts, and her two daughters, in all seven of us. My uncle who had come to drop us at station, did quite a bit of work, talking to TC, and going and trying to find a ticket but from the looks of it, it appeared that he was unsuccessful.

I was there, least bothered about all this,  when my uncle summoned me. He took me little away from everyone and he gave me a 500 rupee note,

"Listen", he said " If TC cribs or says anything just give him this money",
I had always seen people giving money to traffic policemen, to TC, but never before I had done it all by myself. Growing up we always knew that we were supposed to give money and it resolved everything. But I wonder if we ever bothered to think that it was bribe, and it was wrong. I guess it was just a way of life, and that is how we learnt to deal with situations.
"But how much should I give him, and what should I say?", I asked, being visibly tensed, and I was wondering why was he not giving this job to Mom.

"You don't have to say anything, just give him the money, and things will be fine" he said,

I was still thinking about what to do, and if I should go and tell Mom about this,
but then my uncle added,
"See your dad is not there, and now you should learn to take care of everyone",

No one had said such thing to me before. Did my uncle really think that I had grown up, and I could handle things better than my Mom and aunt. I really felt very bullish, I felt big, specially now with 500 rupee note in the pocket. I was hoping he had given me change, so that I could keep some for myself, and give only some to TC. But probably I could get the change from somewhere before the train arrived. There was also this little fear of what how I would handle part with TC, and what should I tell Mom about it. What if Mom intervened? I schemed that I should find the TC, before everyone, and settle the issues with him, before even anyone could find out, how proud Mom would feel,  but would Mom allow me to roam about in the train looking for TC? probably not. Some other way had to be thought of.

I spend rest of the time before the train arrived thinking about all this. Train was very late that day and it arrived past midnight, but it did not matter to me because I had lots of things to think of.

When the train arrived, we got in to it,  and found some empty berths and settled there, hoping that no one would come up. Uncle waved us good bye, and gave me one special encouraging glance. 

As soon as the train started to move, Mom and aunt wasted no time, in settling everything in the empty berth, all the luggage and even us, all of us on two berths. The idea was to catch some sleep, and make it impossible for someone to push us out of the berth. it was funny how everyone was settled in the space of two berths. Mom was adamant that we all sleep, but I had mission to accomplish. My head was still thinking fast and thinking a lot. But nothing seemed like a great idea, I waited and waited, and did not realise when did I fall asleep.

"Wake up wake up", my Mom was shouting. "We have to get down",
"Did the TC come?" I asked Mom
"First get off the train" she said,

I realised that it was almost afternoon and we had reached the destination. But what happened to the TC? Did he not come? But of course he would have come. And probably as always Mom and aunt had dealt with the TC? Probably they paid money, or they cribbed and did something. I was upset and shocked. What had I done? I had happily gone to asleep. Missed my chance to do something.

Well I still don't know what happened that night. I only remember that I avoided talking to that uncle for quiet sometime. I did not want him to ask him as to what happened. Probably Mom had already told him everything, and I was embarrassed to face him.

For all the schemes that I had thought of I did not even get my 500 rupees. The note was found by my Mom in my pocket while washing clothes. 'Where did you get it from?" She asked.
"Uncle gave me " I said
" Why?"
"Just like that", of course I did not want to tell her about my mission in which I had failed miserably.
"You should never take money from anyone, without asking us, I will return it to him" she said. And she kept the money with herself.

But the only thing which I remember very clearly and is still fresh in my mind, were my uncle's words, "since your dad is not there, you should take care of everyone". I had started looking at myself differently. Some where that thought was born that I need to step up and take some responsibility.

Yes after all, it was time to do grown up things.