As we were driving down the bumpy mountainous roads from Yumthang to Gangtok, I thought of train rides we took when I was little. Our parents didn’t have too much money then and we would travel to Kerala by second class non-ac in the hot summer months. Since these trains had windows that could be opened and closed (as opposed to the A/C coaches), my little brother and I would spend our time fighting for the window seat, peering out of it, and waving to passers by. We would especially look out for children of our age; he would look for boys and I would look for girls. We would even keep count and decide a winner afterwards.We would wave – wild with excitement, hair flying in the wind, hands outstretched and flaying wildly, full of glee if a wave was returned, while anxious mothers and aunts would pinch our ears gently and tell us horror stories of how they’ve seen little children’s hands get cut off by electric poles when they stretch their hands out of train windows.. yes, they would say, so many times we’ve seen that happen in front of our eyes.
What is it about those moments I miss now?, I wondered to myself as those straggly haired urchins waved madly at our car speeding down North Sikkim’s roads. Well you see, in those 3 seconds, our eyes locked, our smiles met, and we communicated: When I see you again, I will recognize and know you. Because of this moment.
We will talk about all the lands we’ve traveled by train, all the gifts we gathered from relatives, and the people we’ve seen. We will swap stories. We will be friends. We will play make-believe. We will be best friends.
Those 3 seconds locked us tight in embrace; so what if it was only imaginary?
Ah but who has the time or inclination for such trivialities now? And so I smiled to myself and looked back into my travel guide that morning. And it struck me that what I miss most about my childhood is those simple things that cost me no money and gave me so much pleasure.