Ananya was going home after six long months. Her mind was numb worrying about the lockdown, fear of the coronavirus, and the uncertainty of the future.
As soon as the train left the platform, Ananya’s eyes fell on two children sitting opposite her. Riya, the younger among the two, was fighting with her brother Jojo. Their mother lost her patience, “Riya, stop this ruckus. And listen up you two, do not remove your masks, understood?”
Ananya felt sorry for little Riya. She waved to her and said, “Do you want to hear a story?”
“Yes!”, exclaimed Riya and Jojo in unison. Their innocent smiles lit up the dreary compartment.
Ananya was happy to see them smile. “Who is the calm one between the two of you?” She asked Riya.
“My brother,” Riya answered promptly. Jojo seemed thrilled with the answer.
“Do you know what Riya did once?”, he looked at Ananya with excitement in his voice. “Last year, during our summer vacation, Mummy had gone to the office and we were at home. Riya took my pen and she was running. When I tried to catch her, she got a little hurt. I said sorry, but she called Mummy’s office and complained that I broke her arm.
I was so scared that Mummy would come home and scold me. But she didn’t ask me anything. Riya also forgot about it,” Jojo continued with a sparkle in his eyes.
Later that night, Jojo had overheard his mother tell his father that a little girl had called the manager and said that her brother broke her arm. The manager panicked and rushed home, only to see his children playing peacefully. He came back to the office livid and told the staff about the incident.
Jojo looked at Riya and said, “Mummy still doesn’t know it was Riya who had called her office.”
Ananya laughed her heart out after what seemed like ages. She was overjoyed to think how similar her childhood was to theirs. Enthusiastically, she started recounting stories about how she used to hide her brother’s toys and used to get him into trouble.
For a few precious hours, the fear and panic of the pandemic were gone from Ananya’s mind. It was as if life had returned to normal when even strangers could sit together and share the stories of their lives.
Ananya wasn’t afraid anymore. As the train approached the station and the journey came to an end, she knew what she needed to do.
She decided to hold on to the memories that gave her hope even though things seemed bleak.