“Where are you going Salil?” asked Banu
“Picnic!” Exclaimed Tapa, his large round eyes becoming larger and rounder.
“Hmmm, ok bye, see you all tomorrow then we can climb that Ashok tree together”. Salil waved at his two friends and promptly sat in his old Austin, where his younger brother was waiting for him impatiently.
Banu and Tapa, gaped as the Austin fast receded round the bend of the graveled pathway on to GT road.
“Do you know what a picnic is?” asked Tapa in wonderment.
His question was interrupted by the loud crackling noise from the red brick single storey house. A male voice cackled out and the two boys strained their ears to hear what it said but the pops and the scratches made it difficult for them to fully comprehend what was being said.
“Oh! Sushil’s parents have bought a radio. It must be some important news about M.K. Gandhi, wonder what it says.” Tapa frowned with curiosity.
“Tapa, radio always has news about Mr. M.K. Gandhi. And about picnics, I have seen a few families go on picnics in the weekends,” answered Banu.
“Can the two of us go on a picnic?” enquired Tapa still bewildered.
“Tapa, that’s such a brilliant idea, lets go on a picnic together,” Banu could hardly conceal his excitement.
“What do we do on a picnic?” asked Tapa.
“Oh we just have loads of fun. We take food from home and go to a nice scenic spot, explore the place and when its near evening we come back home,” replied Banu.
“Is that so, sounds good to me. I will ask ma to make kossa mangsho.”
“And I will get bread and pastry from the club’s confectionary shop and tomorrow we can go to the little stream near Kalyaneshwari.”
“That sounds like a plan,” yelled Tapa excitedly.
The next day Tapa and Banu met up at the bus stand each carrying the promised eatables. Banu was wearing blue shorts and a red and black stripped cotton shirt and Tapa was in a beige shorts that went a little below his knees and a white cotton shirt. Both had slippers on. Their hair was properly oiled and neatly parted at the side making them look almost like twins.
A paint peeling off, battered bus with a crowd oozing out of its doors came at full speed and braked before the bus stand. A few men in dhotis and turbans and some saree clad women got off. Tapa and Banu elbowed their way into the throng. They were too excited and happy to notice the jostling crowd. After around ten stops that took them almost an hour the bus came to Kalyaneshwari. The two friends jumped off with a gleeful grin on their faces. They trudged from the Kalyaneshwari bus stand to their picnic spot for nearly half an hour.
The trudge was worth their while. Their jaws dropped when they arrived at their destination. It was the most beautiful place that they had ever seen. A small little spotlessly clear stream was gurgling down the rocks and a little frothing cascade was bouncing down the hillock right into the stream replenishing it with water just a like a mother quenching the thirst of her baby.
The sky was a perfect blue and the bright yellow sun doused and bathed each blade of grass until they gleamed.
The two boys jumped and clapped their hands in glee.
“Banu, this is the perfect place for a perfect picnic,” exclaimed Tapa, visibly happy.
The two boys threw off their shirts and dived into the stream. They swam and splashed around in the cold waters. Lay down in the lush green grass and dried themselves in the sun that was streaming down on them. Later they hungrily gorged on the food they brought and guzzled the fresh water from the cascade to quench their thirsty spirits.
But like all good things in life this day too was at its end. In the afternoon around four the boys cleared up their spot and were ready to leave though each sulked a little because they wanted to stay on a bit longer. But, alas, they had promised their mothers that they would be home before sundown.
Tapa hugged Banu just before turning towards the path leading to his home.
“Banu, this day will always be etched in my mind, maybe someday I will tell my grandchildren about today.”
“Me too Tapa.”
The two boys waved their goodbyes with the promise to meet up the next day to create some more extraordinary memories.