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 sport.
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 limited.
"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 mother asked.
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