One hell of a ride

One hell of a ride

A Story by Kevin Andros
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Road trip time!!

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It was 2:30 AM when I finally woke up. “No point in sleeping anymore,” I thought to myself as I got my sleepy head out of the bed and walked towards the bathroom to get ready. I had called Tapas at least 13 times and getting no answer, I feared the worst: I thought I had to make this trip alone. I freshened up, brushed, showered and got ready after deciding on a worn out blue shirt and fit but comfortable jeans to wear on the trip. I pulled out my woodland shoes that I am so proud of and thought to at least stop at Tapas’s door and make a final check before I went alone. It was almost 3:10 AM when I finally was ready. I took my raincoat, my laptop bag which held my very light luggage and a drinking water bottle. My roommate raised his head sleepily as he saw me leaving and wished me a happy journey before drifting off again. What would I have given to imitate him at the time! But I knew that I had to leave and without any dallying, I grabbed my helmet, my shades and a light dupatta like cloth that I tie around my head and my face to keep the wind hitting me on the face and headed for the elevator.

 

I steeled my nerve and walked out of the elevator through the parking space to my bike that was almost ready for the journey; well, as ready as I was. It was oiled, greased; both new rearview mirrors fixed on the handle and polished to the tail; my Honda Shine. I inserted my keys into the ignition and kicked it to life. The smooth purr of the engine made me a bit more confident of the journey ahead as I finally pushed it into motion. I waited for the night guards to open the gates and then I went out on the familiar roads of this town; knowing very soon that I will be on unfamiliar roads and I will have no idea what will be next.

 

The reason that I was so shaky about this trip is because everyone had told me not to do, everyone advised me against this because everyone knew how dangerous and merciless a road trip can be. But I was adamant. Once I had decided that I will go home; there was no stopping me. So a mere fact that there was no train tickets available to my hometown was just a minor glitch as it was not going to stop me from going home. My hometown was around 600 Kms away from the town I worked and it was too long a trip to take on a bike! Everyone said so and advised against it. My parents had no idea about this. I had talked to them last night, pretending that everything was going normal, and they seemed down as they didn’t have either of their son during the Puja vacations.

 

I reached near Tapas’s Place and my heart beat rather fast; already imagining the worst. I shook myself mentally and hammered on the door after checking my name and designation with the night guard at Tapas’s Colony. I heard few sleepy mutters inside the door before creaking open, and I saw Tapas sleeping without a care in the world. I talked to Jiten and then I woke the poor b*****d up. He hurriedly woke up and apologised for sleeping through all of my calls and hurried towards the loo to freshen up and get ready.

 

Biding the time and checking the watch at the same time, I lit up a smoke while talking to Jiten and Gulam who also were disturbed by my untimely visit. They said that this will be fine, and I will make it on time. I didn’t look to convinced when I just nodded after blowing off a stream of smoke.

 

Tapas quickly got ready and we finally headed out for the road at 3:45 AM. It was very dark and I would be driving the bike as Tapas was still sleepy while I was already shaken up and on high alert.

 

I thought back as I shot through the darkness, driving at around 100 Kmph, that this was nowhere even close to my original plan. I had decided earlier before all this fiasco that I will not be taking a leave to go home during Puja as my brother was not getting any leave from his office. So I thought I’ll take my leave on a more opportune moment when we both will be home at the same time. But all of my plans went awry as one morning when I was working my brother called and said that he had gotten a leave and was going home! I was really surprised as he was fighting with his superiors for a leave and had not much of a progress till last I had heard. So I off-handily mentioned to my boss that my brother had gotten a leave and was surprised when he told e to go. I was racing towards the station to get a waiting counter ticket in the afternoon after already chalked out my trip and also got to piggyback with someone who was more or less travelling on the same route. So on my way to station I get a phone call from my brother that his leave has been cancelled due to some exigent circumstances. The hope, the joy and then the disappointment all became bundled within me and couldn’t think straight for few hours after these quick events.

 

As I cleared Raipur expressway feeling the cold hard wind lapping itself on my body when suddenly the beautiful national expressway turned into the typical Indian road with potholes and messy repair work. Dismayed, but altogether happy with the progress of at least 100 Kms in 1.5 hours, we stopped at around 5:10 AM to get a cup of tea and a smoke before getting moving again. This time, I could not go above 50 Kmph as the lousy road hindered my speed time and again. We stopped again at around 7:30 AM to get some tea and clearing a good 200 Kms from our origin point.

 

As I stopped and stretched my legs, I realized that my a*s was getting really numb from the continuous position that I had to keep while driving. So we changed and Tapas started to drive for the first time as I climbed onto the back of my own bike to give my body some time to relax and change position.

 

The road continued to be abysmal all through the morning as Tapas moved as fast as he could but as slow as he had to. Bracing the jerks, I thought back to the day when this astounding and dangerous decision was made by me. My boss, who never grants anyone leave and grumbles whenever he has to let someone on leave in our Department; turns to me yesterday morning at around 9 and offered me to let me go for the Puja holidays. I couldn’t believe him! I made the responsible employee statements and said there were work to be done but when he insisted the second time I didn’t argue and agreed to go home. Barely containing my excitement, I went online and tried to get a Tatkal ticket. Well, we all know that getting a tatkal ticket from irctc during holidays would be like winning all the lotteries there were in the world at one single run. Within 2 minutes, the tickets vanished and I was left without any options to go home. I called my brother and told him that my boss had offered me to take a leave and my brother seemed very happy about it. He really insisted me to go home even though he couldn’t anymore. So then, I decided. I will go home on my bike.

 

“Ow! Take it easy pal!” I grunted as Tapas jumped yet another pothole. He grinned as he slowed down but pointed to the check gate ahead of the Odisha border and the polished four lane road ahead. I heaved a sigh of relief as I was starting to get really irritated with the poor road all through Chhattisgarh. We stopped in a market place again to have some tea and a smoke while we both stretched our legs again. I checked my watch and it was almost 9:30 AM. I made a mental note to myself to catch up on the lost time as I had to reach home before sundown.

 

After getting on the driver seat and now driving smoothly over the highway roads of Odisha, I quickly made up for our lost time and moved at around 100 Kmph. We stopped once more to refill our tank and changed driving positions after 200 more kilometres. Tapas drove through some rough traffic and some hilly areas as he was approaching close to his drop point.

 

It was past noon when we reached near Sundargarh, a point where me and Tapas would part ways. But before that happened, we both decided to get something to eat as we were running on tea and smokes until that point. Tapas liberated himself with few pegs of whiskey as he was going on a bus from there. I ate light as I was about to enter into a Naxalite area.

 

“I’d say you do not go straight up towards Raniganj,” the dhabewala told us as we were finishing our meals. “Take the road towards the left after reaching the roundabout which is just 2 Kms from here.” “How’s that road?” I asked my new guide, bit worried now as I was about to drive alone. “O that’s a good road, and it’s afternoon time, around 1, so I’d say you can go. Just make sure you don’t stop as it’s a Naxailite area.”

 

I nodded and thanked the dhabewala as I paid for our meal and dropped Tapas at the roundabout. Bidding goodbye to him I took a deep breath, steeled my nerve again and muttered to myself, “don’t stop” and rode off into the left lane that will lead me to Ranchi.

 

Though the road was in pristine condition, gradually it narrowed and traffic became shallow. Very soon, I was the only vehicle moving on that single straight road. The view turned rural and then it turned wild. But I kept driving on and never looked back. My only worry at that time was whether I was on the right road because if by any chance I was given wrong instructions then I’d soon run out of Petrol and I’d have nowhere to go.

 

I didn’t stop and my mind started racing as to what time I’d reach Ranchi and would I make it on time. I tried to think of something else so that I’d not worry so much about this trip but time and again the road forced me to concentrate. I was maintaining the speed of 80 Kms but the single straight road kept on scaring me. I started wondering when would I reach a turn. I became more confused when I cleared the borders of Odisha and found out that I was now moving through Chhattisgarh, the state that I started from. The signs worried me even more when it said that straight up ahead was Raipur, which I had cleared even before the sun was up. I started thinking maybe God was too funny with the whole ‘world is round’ thing. I started wondering whether I had skipped the turn that led to Jharkhand, but I distinctly remember missing no turns. I could not check my GPS as I was in the middle of a shallow Jungle but it made the day seem as if it was nearing evening, not passing through a hot Sunny afternoon. Nevertheless, determined not to stop I kept driving.

 

Slowly, what it seemed an eternity to me, the trees grew scarce again and were replaced by huts and houses. There were people all staring at me; the solitary traveller on the lonesome road. After driving more than 200 KMs on the straight road, I finally reached a turn. Goodness me, how I was happy to see that turn I almost cried. There was Puja Pandal near the turn and I stopped once, feeling brave just to thank Goddess and getting an ‘all the best’ for the rest of the journey from her. I started moving once more and after driving on and on for another 100 KMs I finally stopped for another smoke. I asked a freight car driver to point me in direction of Ranchi. Not long after I started moving again that I encountered growling angry rain clouds in the distance. I stopped and by the time I was putting on my raincoat, heavy rain started pouring down hard and fast. But I was also determined not to give into anything. I put on my raincoat and drove through the storm for another 30 minutes before reaching a sunny road around a hilly range that’ll lead to Ranchi.

 

By the time I cleared the Ghati (road that goes around a hill), it was beginning to go dark. Getting impatient again by the straight road, I accelerated but there was traffic on this road and I was hitting few potholes time and again. It was dark by the time I reached Gumla around 5:30.

 

I switched my headlights on and kept driving on the straight road, wondering what my parents’ reaction is going to be when they see me there. I asked some riders on the road and confirmed that I was on the right road and kept driving. At 6 o’ clock, when it was dark and the stars were out, I reached Kathal more which was an indication that I had touched Ranchi. But as I was out for such a long time, I still wasn’t sure. I kept driving and asking and asking and driving. Then suddenly, or it seemed to me, I drove right into a traffic jam that could only mean one thing: I was home. I deftly drove in and out of cars and reached a turn which will let me avoid all the rush and traffic jam and will take me home. I stopped in the corner, looking around with relish as I finally reached my hometown. I pulled out my last smoke and called my boss and my colleagues as they were all worried about me and assured them that I had reached Ranchi. After finishing my last cigarette, I jumped on my bike the final time as I raced through the bypass with a smile on my face and looking around my town; already feeling that I was home. It took me another 40 minutes to reach my apartment. I knew my parents would be in the nearby Puja Pandal. I introduced myself to the gatekeeper of our apartment; handed over my raincoat my helmet to him as I took flight again; blazing my horn loudly just to express the happiness within. I went straight into the Pandal and spotting my dad sitting in the last few rows of chairs, I started blazing my bike horn. My dad, who was deep in thought, looked disturbed and turned sharply with anger in his eyes as to who was disturbing this holy environment. His anger turned to a shock when he saw me. Wide eyed, he got up, slamming his forehead with his palm as he approached me and said, still in shock, “What have you done?” “Don’t yell now okay dad?” I said to him grinning as he touched his feet and sought his blessing. He grabbed me by my arm and took me straight up at the mandap, towards my Mom. After some time we got her attention and she jumped in shock as well, seeing me standing there.

 

Embracing my parents and as I moved towards my home and towards my bed, I thought about the relentless road that lay behind me and what lay ahead. Few things I was certain about, as I crawled into my ever familiar and missed bed with an aching body and a tired mind " that whatever lies store ahead of me, it was nice to get some rest now. All in all, this was a good adventure.


© 2015 Kevin Andros



Author's Note

Kevin Andros
Not edited. Just sharing one unique experience.

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Added on September 20, 2015
Last Updated on September 20, 2015
Tags: Road Trip

Author

Kevin Andros
Kevin Andros

World is one country, India



About
Hi. I'm a Leo Person by birth. ************************ Update April 2016 I am making my slow return to this wonderful world without borders. Trying to be active on boards and adding new writer.. more..

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