Original Ticket

About a lost ticket or...

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1. Short Story : Original Ticket.

 

My Nanaji (maternal grandfather) and Naniji (maternal grandmother) both reside in a small village in Pune at our Guruji’s ashram. They decided to live there after my Nanaji’s retirement. They came once in a year to Chandigarh to meet us.

 

My mother and I both work as teachers and my brother works in a private company.

 

This time my mother thought of a novel idea of booking air tickets for my Nanaji and Naniji. So, in the evening she went to the ticket agent who was once a student of my mother. The ticket agent who was now in his mid thirties always got us discount on air tickets. And sometimes even did not charge his commission.

 

This time too he used his magic wand and procured two tickets from Pune to Chandigarh for Rs. 10000/- only. My mother was elated to get tickets at such a discounted rates and she made provision for wheelchair assistance. As Nanaji and Naniji both are in their late 80’s, so this assistance was of very help for them.

 

My mother arrived home in a cheerful mood and announced to me, “Atal! I have booked tickets for your grandparents. I will call your Nanaji now and he will be very happy to know that this time I have booked tickets for them instead of your Mamaji (maternal uncle).”

 

My mother picked up the mobile, rummaged through the contacts list, and dialled the number of my Nanaji. At the first bell or I think my Nanaji did not allow even the first bell to ring to its full course and he picked up the phone and said in a hoarse voice accompanied by his signature cough, “Hello! Meena, how are you?”

 

My Nanaji spoke so loudly that even I could hear his Hello as I was standing beside my mother.

 

My mother in a gleeful manner said in one breath, “ Hello! papa, How are you? This time I have booked your air tickets. I will fax you the tickets tomorrow. I have booked the tickets for 18.october.2011 for you. Today is 8.october.2011 so you have enough time to pack your baggage.”

 

There was a long silence on the other side of the phone. I could easily see some uneasiness arriving on my mother’s merry countenance.

 

 

Then my Nanaji in a roaring voice said, “ How could you Meena, How could you? You know that I cannot accept tickets from you. They cost too much. I cannot accept them from my daughter. Daughter’s are meant to be provided for and not to provide for.”

 

My mother’s eyes became moist. She said with a lump in her throat, “But papa… papa.. I thought you would be happy. Have I done a mistake?”

 

 

My Nanaji’s cooled down a bit on sensing that my mother was about to cry. He said in a calm and composed manner, “No beta no, you have done nothing wrong. But you know that I am a man of principles and I cannot take anything from my daughter. You have done a wonderful thing but please promise me that you will take every penny spent by you on the tickets from me.”

 

I could easily hear the conversation. My mother said meekly, “Ok papa I will.” And with this she disconnected the call. Now the cheerfulness disappeared from my mother’s face.

 

She turned towards me and asked me to get the ticket faxed tomorrow to Nanaji. I nodded in approval.

 

 

The next day while returning from my school around 2:30 p.m I got the ticket faxed to my Nanaji. As soon as I arrived at my home my mother was eagerly waiting for me and said, “ Atal, your Nanaji called and said that the ticket you faxed to him is illegible. So will you go in the evening and fax it again.”

 

“Ok, I will,” I answered.

 

In the evening, I again faxed the ticket and within minutes I received, a call from Nanaji who chided me to his heart’s content and said, “Atal you are 27 now and still you do not know how to fax a legible ticket.”

 

“I am sorry Nanaji. I will send you the ticket by speed post tomorrow.”

 

“ That will be good Atal. But do not be so careless this time,” said Nanaji in a chiding tone.

 

The next day I took half-day leave and reached the post office at around 11in the morning. It was far away from my school. The old building reminded me of Nanaji. As I entered the building, I found a long queue at the counter and wondered whether Nanaji has asked all of them to send the tickets by speed post. After thirty minutes, my turn came only to know that there was no speed post service available for the Guruji’s ashram. I trembled at the thought of again getting an earful from my Nanaji. I immediately called my mother as I knew mother could save a son from any trouble.

 

My mother answered in an irritated manner, a manner unknown to me till then, “ Oh! Ho! Atal you are 27 and you cannot do such a petty task by yourself.”

 

“ But….. But.. mother…,” I requested. But could not complete it.

 

“Oh please do not start with your excuses now and listen to me carefully. Get a photocopy of the ticket and send one by ordinary mail and other one by registered post. In this manner we will be sure that the ticket reaches your Nanaji,” ordered my mother.

 

I followed the orders and when I again reached the post office after getting a photocopy of the ticket. I was shocked to see that by now the queue had swelled to double by then. I had no other option so I took a place in the queue and after an hour my turn came.

 

I purchased a ticket of Rs..5/- for the ordinary mail and got the other ticket registered for Rs 30/-. Then I took a sigh of relief as if I have proved myself to Nanaji at last. Now my Nanaji had two tickets in his possession and two on their way for his possession.

 

There prevailed calm in my home for three days when suddenly in the evening my  mobile phone rang and came the dreaded voice of my Nanaji, “ You Idiot you have sent me photocopies of the ticket. Where is the original ticket?”

 

I flummoxed at my Nanaji’s query. I thought what is an original ticket in this internet era? What I have is just a printout and I have sent its photocopy to my Nanaji.

 

I tried my best to make this understand to my Nanaji but to no avail and he disconnected the call in anger.

 

Then within seconds, my mother’s mobile phone rang and I could easily hear my mother trying to make my Nanaji understand that as the ticket was booked through internet there is no such thing as original ticket. But my Nanaji disconnected the phone. My mother looked at me in horror but I could provide no solace to her as I was feeling the same horror.

 

After half an hour came my Mamaji’s call and he asked my mother for the original ticket. Then my mother’s sister called and did the same. This followed by a lot of relatives settled in various corners of Punjab. My mother’s whole evening was occupied that day in making the elder relatives understand that there is no such thing as an original ticket in this internet era.

 

 

So here we were. Only my younger brother was at peace as he was generally oblivious of happenings at my home as he came around 11 in the night and left at 8 in the morning for his job.

 

The clock showed 10:30 p.m with only one day left between the day of my arrival of Nanaji. My mother asked me to go to sleep.

 

 

“We will see in the morning what could be done now?” said she in a worried tone.

 

 

In the morning, I could see my mother in tension but I had to leave for my school.

 

When I returned in the afternoon. I found my mother again trying to persuade my Nanaji about the ticket.

 

“ Meena stop trying to teach me. We have not packed our luggage. We are not coming to Chandigarh on your fake ticket,” pronounced my Nanaji.

 

My mother even tried to persuade my Naniji but to no avail.

 

Then she decided to go herself to Pune and fetch my grandparents from there.

 

She called the travel agent.

 

“ But there is no discounted ticket to Pune for tomorrow madam. The ticket will cost you Rs.30000/-,” said he.

 

My mother had no other option left. She had to reach Pune tomorrow as the day after tomorrow was the day of flight of my Nanaji. So she asked the agent to book the ticket. And asked me to collect the tickets.

 

In the morning, my mother had no luggage with her in the plane except her purse and in it the most valuable thing,

 

                                              “The original ticket.”

 

My Blog : Lifelongstolive.blogpsot.com

 

 

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