It was first Saturday of the month, again. It was a half day, today so a nine years old boy had already returned from his school. Steam engine of the train had blown its whistle to synchronize the mental clock of the boy from a distance of two kilometres, triggering a sequence of events. Yes, the steam engine was giving indication that it would reach “Saraigarh” the nearest railway station in another ten minutes. The boy started counting another 90 minutes from his mental clock. (Wall clock was still a luxury before economic liberalization). This much time was required for walking and taking a boat ride for reaching home from this railway station.
The mental clock of the boy indicated him that it was just half an hour now. The boy positioned a wooden chair at his "dalaan" and started looking endlessly towards pagdandi (a grass laden elevated pathway on which only one person can walk at a time). Many people enquired with him that why he was sitting alone. The boy would either ignore or would divert the question. With every passing second his restlessness increased to next level. 90 minutes had already passed. There would be two possible outcomes, now. Firstly, there would be no outcome and his restlessness would not bring any result, not even a disappointment. Rather he would start waiting for next train which would come probably two hours later.
While he would be involved in his daily chores, his radar would be meticulously switched on to receive signal from the whistle of steam engine of next train. Again, the same restless waiting for 90 minutes. Probably, it would bring the same results and nothing would happen. Or secondly, during the last phase of any of those 90 minutes, the boy would see a man in his mid thirties walking through the "pagdandi" towards his "dalaan" with a suitcase in his one hand and a big duffle in his another hand. The boy would be elated and would run towards him at his maximum speed. In a moment the boy would meet this man. The man would also be elated to see him. He would keep his luggage aside and uncounted numbers of hugs and kisses would be exchanged. Both of them would then walk towards the home. The boy would walk fast and would stop occasionally to sync with the pace of the man. Upon reaching home, the mother of the boy would ask him the same question again, “I know why you have been waiting at "dalaan”. The boy would gracefully deny that he was actually longing for the arrival of his father. He would pose as if it was merely an accidental meet.
Yes, the man in this story was my father and I was the “the boy”. The first Saturday of the month, whistle of the train, restlessness of the waiting, elation of meeting and finally uncounted numbers of hugs and kisses packaged together were probably the best memory of my father that was happening every month (in late 80's) when he was coming to our native place from Gorakhpur.