Fiction: The Wheel

Priyanki Mishra
MGM Medical College, Jamshedpur

- Priyanki Mishra

The train was running on its tracks with full speed, creating a thunderous noise, but with great rhythm. Trees, meadows, ponds, villages; all were left behind Neelima’s vision with the running train. She loved the sight of the life through the train window and never liked to travel through the A.C. bogey lest she would miss the lovely experience.

Just in front of her sat an obese, young lady with her frail looking son, about ten years old. She had eyed Neelima with inspecting eyes as Neelima occupied her seat. In a single gaze, she had taken good look of Neelima’s dressing sense, her jewellery, her purse and her expression showed that she was awe-struck. Again and again, she would fix her eyes on Neelima and revert back, when she found Neelima watching her. Feminine habits, ah, so natural, so thought Neelima.
The child was engrossed in playing with the window, feeling quite bored with nothing to do. Adjacent to the lady, was a young girl. The lady had started conversing with her as she turned out to be an old acquaintance’s daughter. The girl, in her smart jeans and top, was a pretty one. Her words and mannerisms were also sober. Neelima could make out that she was going to the metro city along with her father. She was seeking admission in a good college in B. Com .Her father was sitting on the opposite seat.

“What’s your name?” Neelima asked the child in order to gain his attention. The child was too shy to answer.
“Child, please tell your name”, the mother coaxed the boy.
“Shubham”, the boy slowly replied.
“Is it the way? Why don’t you tell your full name?” she reprimanded.
“It’s OK”, Neelima added.
“Shubham Anand”, the mother told Neelima. Thus, the ice broke.

Soon, Neelima learnt that she was going to Kolkata with her son for an eye checkup. He had caught an ophthalmic infection a few days back, during the course of his treatment, the doctor had observed that the vision in the infected eye had greatly  diminished compared to the other eye. Asked about the further course of action, he had given a blunt reply, “God’s will”, he had told. According to him, it was too late to recover the lost vision. Left with no other option, the mother had decided to get him checked at a renowned city hospital.

The boy’s maternal grandfather was travelling along with them. The lady’s husband was a big trader in the local market. His work was to buy local agricultural products from the poor farmers and sell them at soaring prices in wholesale trading. This being the harvest season, his business was in full bloom. He would not buzz from his place at this time, at any cost, leave alone his son’s eye checkup.

“They have given him a pair of spectacles to wear. The right eye glass is whitened so that he can use his left eye as much as he can. This will improve his vision as he will put it to better use” the lady tried to explain things to Neelims as she opened her small black purse to take out the pair of specs.
The boy was too reluctant to wear it. He felt ill at ease, wearing them as they were too heavy for him.
“Look, Shubham, even I’m wearing glasses. Are the looking unsightly? The specs will help you get out of your illness”, Neelima tried to explain it to the little boy so that he could understand. The boy listened to Neelima’s words attentively. Putting on his specs obediently, he looked out through his window into the vast expanse of the lush greenery, so characteristic of the Indian countryside.

The sky overhead was full of dark clouds. “It’ll be a heavy downpour today”, claimed the boy’s mother. “We’ll have a tough time wondering through the bylanes of Kolkata. We don’t even possess an umbrella”, remarked Neelima, with a sign of worry over her countenance. Meanwhile, the discussion regarding the children’s higher education was generating loud voices in the compartment along with the sonorous sound of the moving wheels. The synchronicity in the music of life sometimes amazed Neelima.

“Raichand ji” the opinion giver was busy advising all the people around. This is a special clan of people who always put themselves above all the rest. They find great honour in giving all possible knowledge of all genre to the people in front of them, oblivious of the fact that the crowd may be in fact ridiculing them behind their backs.

Neelima tried to avoid listening and concentrated towards “The Telegraph,” she was going through. The child had had enough of the specs and had removed them slowly, eyeing Neelima with his corners, wondering what she would say! Neelima remained engrossed in her newspaper, trying to pretend that she hadn’t noticed.

“Mummy, so many stations have passed. But, Kolkata hasn’t yet come. When will we reach Kolkata?”, the boy’s voice was getting impatient as he wanted to get off his seat to stroll around in the train.

“Don’t be in a hurry. Just stay calm and peaceful and you will soon reach your destination”, this was his mother’s good piece of advice to the small boy.

Isn’t this true for the wheel of time too? We all are on a journey. The wheel is moving, in tune with the life’s ups and downs. It’s our turn to stay at ease so that we reach the desired shores.

Shubham’s mother’s worry for her son’s health, the others in the compartment too in the same mindframe, thoughts of the well beings of their siblings; again, the wheel is turning. Parents worrying for their children, the endless life process, the big wisdom in the smallest of mother’s lessons: life goes on. So, thought Neelima as the train came to a screeching halt.

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