Unbeknown to mom, dad’s lively mind hatched a plan that included his three kids, his scooter and a long journey. The occasion was our summer break and the reason was my mom’s sudden departure to her hometown, making dad realise that taking care of us was going to require more than just good intention.
The ‘three’ included me and my two brothers, at that time, all aged between seven and ten, the scooter was an old green ‘Bajaj’ (I think) and the journey was from Dehradun to Amritsar via Chandigarh. Dad did all the planning like the army officer that he was. He told us that this was a course in adventure, which got all of us hugely excited and cooperative at the same time.
We set off early in the morning, one kid in front, two and a bag at the back. Some hours into the journey, we hit the mountainous road, it was all uphill from thereon. My heart ached for the scooter as it laboured it’s way up with its heavy cargo. My brother suggested throwing me off, with his typical elder- brotherly love as he saw everyone overtaking us with aplomb. If the climb was tough, the descent saw us hurtle down on sheer momentum. “Pug nu farr” my dad yelled as his turban threatened to fly off, my brother slapped his hand on dad’s head, averting a catastrophe that was to hound us many times during our long and adventurous journey.
Upon reaching Chandigarh, our relatives almost fell as they observed our small, blackened faces and our bow legs. They insisted that we abort our journey right away. But, by now we were all bitten by the bug of being outdoors, on the road, eating at dhabas and stopping at wide open fields with tube wells gushing ice-cold water. Sitting together in a tight circle we discussed our journey animatedly. We couldn’t wait to be on our way to Amritsar and to the Verka milk booths dotting the highway.
The fragrance of the sugarcane fields, the taste of freshly made dal and roti somehow become the flavour of childhood and the wind in the hair the spirit which always uplifts. Time goes on..when we meet now, my brothers and I shake our heads in amazement at what dad so happily undertook.
That one trip gave us something that all of us cherish till date. It transformed us like nothing else has since. Dad’s love for life and good humour through all its ups and downs chiselled our own attitude. His belief that the next turn will hold a better view keeps us going till date. He taught us that you don’t need anyone’s permission to be happy, you just have to make your mind up. The bonding that we experienced through our journey was the best gift a dad could have given his children, for all this and more… Thank you Dad!