The Thrill of a Lifetime
she jumped off the Solang Valley in a para glider, a bout of
hitherto unfelt thrill shot through her veins. She had always wanted to
this ever since she saw her mom do it a couple of years ago when they were
holidaying in the region. Her parents thought she was far too young to
attempt the adventurous task and forbade her from doing so. But now that
she was a teenager, she was allowed her first real spurt at a mountain
Her younger brother looked
at her in awe as she strapped up and then plunged into the valley. In a
few seconds, she was far away from where her family stood on the hilltop,
and gliding away. She saw the majestic beauty of the mountains in the
region, the undulating hills and valleys, the streams that were like blue
creepers on the ground, the lush green trees and the grass, which seemed
like a huge carpet laid out for her to set feet on.
Maya had never known such
happiness and joy. She was literally on a cloud. Her instructor turned the
glider towards the large playground where they were going to land, and she
felt a bit sad that this wonderful journey was coming to an end. She
couldn’t ask her parents if she could take another shot at it. They would
be uncomfortable. And, as it is, the family had other plans, and time was
"Fold your feet up to your
knee. Don’t leave them hanging loosely,’’ her instructor had told her
before they had taken off. She remembered that, and did as instructed.
With a smooth glide, they landed. It was unbelievable. Maya was on top of
the world. She couldn’t wait to tell her friends all about this experience
back in Indore. She began walking to the bus which was at a certain
distance. Her parents were to arrive there by road, down the valley. "So,
how was it,’’ asked Sahil, her little brother. "You looked like a bird.
Did you also feel like one,’’ he probed. "Is it not scary? Can I do it,
too,’’ his questions continued. "Please ask Mom and Dad to let me do it as
well,’’ he pleaded. He was ten. In any case, she hadn’t been allowed to
try it until now, and she had celebrated her 16th birthday only last week.
Maya looked for her
parents. Not finding them around, she herded Sahil to the bus, which had
brought them here. "Where are Mom and Dad? Weren’t they with you,’’ she
asked. Sahil nodded and got busy with other things. The bus was about to
leave. "Stop. My parents aren’t here, yet. Please don’t leave. Let me look
for them. It’ll only take a couple of minutes,’’ she implored. The driver
agreed. Maya got off the bus and went into the super market nearby.
She found her mother haggling with a shopkeeper over the price of a
beautiful pink and blue shawl.
Her father stood next to
her, quite meekly, and without a worry on his brow. "Dad. The bus is about
to leave. Ma, please hurry. Forget about the shawl. Sahil is alone on the
bus, and it would have left already. C’mon, let’s go,’’ Maya cried. "Oh!
Sorry. Just got a bit swept away. By the way, how was the gliding,’’ her
Maya said nothing. All she
wanted to do was to get her parents back on that bus. They finally got in,
and began inching towards their seats. They were numbers 15 to 18.
"Where’s Sahil,’’ asked her mother. "What,’’ replied Maya. "Why? He was
right here. I left him right here. I also told him not to get off the bus.
My God! Did he go somewhere? That boy will get a thrashing today,’’ said
Maya, quite irritated, and very nervous now.
"Did you see my brother
get off the bus,’’ she asked. "What,’’ snapped the driver, who was busy
talking to the conductor. "My brother. He was wearing a red Spiderman
t-shirt and blue jeans,’’ she elaborated. "Phew! First your parents were
lost, and now your brother has gone missing. We have lost precious time
because of you people. Why don’t you just get off the bus,’’ he shot back.
Maya felt like crying. Her
parents were quite upset, as well. "Just give us ten minutes. Then, you
can leave,’’ said Dad. The driver grunted and mumbled under his breath and
looked away. ``These people have no sense of time. No wonder we are so
punctual,’’ he grumbled sarcastically. Maya and her father got off the
bus. Maya decided to look for Sahil in the playground. Dad decided to look
for him in the same market. He crossed the street frantically and went
into one of the shops.
Maya began walking to the
playground. Suddenly, she heard a scream, "Hey! Look at me.’’ Stunned and
relieved, and anxious and hopeful at the same time, Maya looked back. Her
younger brother was standing on top of the large bus. He was trying to aim
for the nearby tree whose lush branches were almost touching the top of
the vehicle. He was going to jump at the tree, hold on to its branches and
then glide forward and land on the ground…exactly as he had seen his
sister do. "I also wanted to fly like a bird,’’ he said, as she went up
the ladder to get him. The kid was such an imp.
Sangita P. Menon Malhan,
I am a short story writer, located in New Delhi, India. For most of my
professional life, I was a journalist with a national newspaper. I am
currently a freelance editor and translator. The stories I write are
primarily for children and the youth. Their readership, so far, has been
Indian, and therefore, the stories have Indian sensibilities.