‘Okay,’ Paromita nodded.
A walk home after school was not any new proposition I was making though. It was an usual routine. We preferred to use number 11 bus to return home after school. Did we want to save money? No. Were we conscious about our fitness level? Absolutely not. Then?
We avoided the rickshaw walas who honked to get our attention. Getting on a rickshaw meant ditching 30 minutes of unadulterated fun. Those who never did this will not understand how much inner peace one can achieve by gossiping and discussing movies over an ice cream or anything delicious(and totally unhygienic) purchased from the street-food vendors standing before the school entrance gate.
‘Have you seen Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai?’ Paromita asked. An epidemic named Hrithik Roshan was claiming lives of many young girls and women in the then India.
‘No. How is the movie?’ I replied after putting a piece of cotton candy inside my mouth.
‘A must see,’ she answered chewing a mixture of fried lentils. ‘They showed it in the local channel last night.’
Dish TV was not much popular at that time in our hometown, making the entertainment business a profitable one for the local cable operators.
We walked halfway analysing the repercussions a brand new couple in our class could face in future, when something moving aggressively behind a truck caught our eyes. After taking a closer look, we realised it was a cow. She was hitting the truck with her head.
‘Goru !’ Paromita said with mirth in her eyes. ‘Has she gone mad or what?’
Now, I always follow one policy when animals are around me – maintain a safe distance.
‘Let’s take another route.’ My sixth sense predicted a catastrophe.
‘Yeah, we should,’ Paromita replied. Her sixth sense too had served a warning.
Even before we could divert our direction, the cow saw us and started approaching with a speed that could put any racing car to shame. I guess she was frustrated after pushing the immobile truck. Now she required a living and moving being to poke with her horns.
At that moment, I understood what the Spanish go through when a set of angry bulls chase them. Here, only one cow had scared the hell out of us. We started running for our lives. The 30 minutes of relaxing walk was now a scary roller coaster ride.
A middle-aged woman was walking on the footpath. She froze at once after seeing the chasing scene. Although the cow was not giving us any chance to discuss the next move, we took help of telepathy and decided to hide behind that woman. That is because we sincerely believed she was a godsend angel. But little did we know, even godsend angel also valued her mortal life highly.
A scream escaped from the woman and she took no time to jump out of the cow’s way. There we were, running aimlessly once again on the street and saving our backs from the Lord Krishna’s companion. The truck, source of all trouble, was the only shield left for us. We took refuge behind it.
After what it felt like ages, we peeked from the back of the truck. There was no sight of the cow anywhere. Either she failed to notice us or she found a new target. Whatever the reason was, we were grateful to be left alive and in one piece.
For the next few days, the gossipmongers (still under mental trauma) took rickshaws to return home from school.
It was indeed a walk home to remember.