Crossing the Mirage:Passing Through Youth (Chapter 4, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 4

As if to afford Chandra time for reflection at the threshold, the train was held up at Kalyan for long. And to his irritation, Ashok found out it was owing to some technical snag. Thus, the train could reach Dadar only towards the evening. By then, Chandra was physically fatigued and mentally worn out. When the cab they hired halted in a by-lane in Sion, the weary friends uttered a sigh of relief. But as luck would have it, as they went up to Rashid’s room, a Godrej padlock greeted them. Nevertheless, Ashok thought the key to Rashid’s whereabouts would lie in the addas that they were wont to frequent. Securing their luggage with the housekeeper, they went in search of Rashid but not finding him anywhere there, Ashok thought better of it.

“It’s like we’re on a wild goose chase now,” said Ashok, characteristically throwing up his arms in the air. “Let’s go back and wait for him.”

“What if he’s out of town?” said Chandra as they sauntered their way back to Rashid’s place.

“If so, wouldn't have the housekeeper told us?” said Ashok assuredly. “Don’t worry; you won’t be left in the lurch.”

“Oh, I’m relieved,” said Chandra, taking Ashok’s hand. “Wonder why I don’t feel tired! What's there in Bombay’s air?”

“Well, its Vitamin M,” said Ashok patting Chandra’s back, “and that helps keep mind and body hale and healthy? Boy, Bombay is a goldmine that lets even the poor to exploit it. Wonder if there is another place like this anywhere else.”

“Whatever it is,” said Chandra, “I think Hyderabad is an over-grown village in comparison.”

Not finding Rashid even on their return, they waited for him impatiently. When he didn’t turn up even by seven, Ashok felt it was time he left, for his mother might have become anxious by then.

“I’ll leave a note for him,” said Ashok. “I’m sure he'll help you, at least for the night.”

“I know it’s not fair to expect more from you” said Chandra. “But, what if…?”

“Don’t worry,” said Ashok, “he won't let you down.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s all right,” said Ashok penning a missive.

“I won’t forget this day all my life,” said Chandra taking the note from Ashok.

“Why make much of it,” said Ashok holding Chandra’s hand.

“If only you are in my shoes,” said Chandra, “you would understand what your gesture means to me.”

“Thank you,” said Ashok warmly, “my mother says good wishes do help. I wish you all the best in Bombay.”

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