Looking through the passenger window.

Fiction Feb 11, 2021

It was dad’s turn to cook breakfast. On a very sleepy and drizzly Sunday morning, my dad drove me to the food-mart for shopping fresh veggies. The perfect amount of coolness in the air, top branches of trees swaying rhythmically with the lullaby of the winds-the weather was just right for snoozing my alarm and dozing off. But I guess sleep was not in my destiny.

“Whoa! Geez, dad, slow down," I said in a polite yet subtle manner to avoid any back-shots being fired at me. But guess what? The car decided to take offense on my dad’s behalf. It came to a sudden halt, making both of us jerk in our seats.

While dad was looking at the car’s engine to figure out what’s wrong, I looked outside the passenger window. The drizzle on glass blurred my view but it was clear enough to figure out silhouettes. I could see some wall-like structure whose continuity was ruptured due to decay, guard rails; I presumed. In front of the guard rails, there stood a still lamppost. Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph,"  was blaring through my headphones, right into my mind. Nostalgia. I once again walked down the memory lane that had been shut down for years now.

It was a busy day at school. It was already Saturday and some of us were longing for that one peaceful weekend while the party maniacs were craving for creating another havoc at Nancy’s house party. Finally, the longest Saturday was about to come to an end. As zealously anticipated as we were for the last bell to ring, it got delayed by the announcement; which was then blaring through the speakers. “Students, we are extremely joyous about the progress y’all have made over the last semester. We hope to see such results in the future as well. As a token of appreciation, the school wants to take y’all to an outdoor picnic. Interested students, hope to see everyone at 7 am tomorrow.” A wave of rejuvenation filled the classroom as all of us started planning the picnic. In no time, everyone was outside the school premises, hastily marching homewards.

“Mom, why are you so late? We have to go to a picnic tomorrow,” I said; trying to make her feel guilty about making me pack alone for the both of us. No, no, I’m not a loser who wants her mom on a school picnic. She is a teacher at my school and also one of our guides for this picnic. Mum gave me a “shut-up-and-go-to-bed” expression as she packed all of our essentials which I obviously ignored because chips are important. I wished her goodnight and headed towards my room to sleep or rather I’d say, try to sleep with all that adrenaline rush.

Next morning, I felt dizzy. My body shivered and my forehead was flaming hot. I knew picnic was off for me. But mum was the guide. She had to go. I waved mum goodbye, indicating that she should leave or she would be late but she was too worried. Dad reassured her by rehearsing the timely dose of medicines for the third time as he closed the door behind her.

I took my medicine and went back to rest for a while as my dad proceeded to finish some of his household chores. Not more than two hours had passed since mum left, dad’s phone rang. In a fraction of seconds, the silence of the house was filled with the voices of media reporters. I woke up from my half asleep state and walked towards the hall to find out what happened.

It was our school bus. The one in which I rode to school everyday. It was right there in front of my eyes but this time it appeared to be upside down.

I kept dialling mum, my friends & school but no avail. We drove there as fast as we could but we just weren’t on time. Dad jumped off the driver’s seat as he saw mum’s body on the ambulance bed. I sat there; as frozen as ice; seeing my world collapse in the blink of an eye. I looked through the blurry, drizzly passenger window to witness a havoc by the ruptured guard rails. I felt like the lamppost standing right in front of my eyes. Lonely. Isolated. Alone.

Bhoomika Valani

DJLIT Editorial Co-committee member. A keen reader, extrovert who loves writing poems a lot.

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