Saturday, August 24, 2013

Adventures of Little Babu: Flying Club

The boundary wall at the back of his house was about three hundred meter away. It was supposed to have barbed wire top for protection but lack of maintenance rendered it flat and bald. The space in between was filled with Imli, Jamun, Mango and other assorted tropical trees. A narrow road ran parallel to the boundary wall. Across the road was an obscure flying club surrounded by high barbed wired fence. The flying club usually lacked activity, a fluttering cylindrical piece of cloth slung to a pole bellowing in air was sole animate object meant to show degree of intensity and direction of the wind. On the far side was a small hanger, its gates mostly open; you could see a couple of twin seater aeroplanes there. The runway was only partially visible due to uneven growth of grass. Sometimes these small planes would take off from the runway hover over the sky and return. When in the afternoon Mom would take siesta, little Babu with his friends would run off to the boundary where a fallen tree trunk on the wall made a bridge for them to climb up the wall. They would sit at the top of the wall and watch planes taking off and landing on the runway. 

Beyond the Flying club and on the south side was empty land. Once he heard older kids in a huddle talking in hushed tones about some ‘lakaRbagha’ roaming around and taking children away. He couldn’t quite make out what a ‘lakaRbagha’ was, thought it was a delinquent man who had a piece of exotic wood (lakaRi therefore lakaRbagha) that emitted some kind of toxic fumes which would faint little kids. The myth of ‘lakaRbagha’ stayed in air for a while without causing much panic but mystic aura of ‘laKaRbagha’ remained with him for a long time; died only when he learnt ‘lakaRbagha’ was merely a hyena. 

The northern flank of boundary wall was behind the MI room. There was a railway line running along it. Those days steam locomotives would ferry passengers across towns. This track was mostly busy with passenger trains, hardly any goods train passed through it. Years later young Babu used to pass through this line to attend college. Every time he would pass through this section he would eagerly look at the campus in a surge of nostalgia. The house where he had spent his childhood looked awfully small to him…………


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