Keep walking, you will find your way
One day I asked my class teacher in primary school “Where do you live?”. She said, she lives in Rohini sector 6. I asked her, “How do you commute from Rohini sector 6?”; She said she took bus number 982.
At that time all I was familiar with, was Sultan Puri. It was divided in blocks. Almost everyone knew everyone, there was no need for address. I thought sector 6 would be just like a block in Sultan Puri.
A kind woman lived in the neighborhood, she had a govt job. She was doing okay. I will share more about her role in helping me, in later posts. She could afford to buy shampoos, conditioners, bleach, hair oil and a lot of other things, we could never afford. I used to do the shopping for her. I would check at the shop what items had discounts, what was on sale. I used to help her save money on purchase of those items. Every time I shopped for her, she gave me 25 paise or 50 paise and sometimes 1 rupee. I used to keep that money with her.
On the day of Diwali that year, I got together with 4 other girls from my class. I told them, “I have saved money to visit our class teacher’s home”. I convinced them all to join me in giving a visit to our class teacher. I have no idea why I wanted to visit her home.
We all went to the bus station. I had 10 rupees that I had managed to save over a couple of months. I asked the conductor to give 5 tickets for Rohini sector 6, each ticket was 3 rupees, so a total of 15 rupees. I only had 10. The conductor was kind enough to let us all ride the bus for 10 rupees. We all rode the bus for the first time in our lives. We got down at the stop of Rohini sector 6. In Sultan Puri, it is easy to find people by name. I thought the same applied to the whole world.
I started asking people if they knew where Mrs Gargee lived. Most people must have definitely thought I was crazy. Rohini looked so clean and beautiful. It was very different from Sultan Puri. We kept looking for Mrs Gargee for hours. It started getting a little dark, in addition, since it was Diwali, people were bursting crackers. All my friends started crying. I was scared too. I had no money to take the bus back to Sultan Puri and I had no idea how to get back home walking. I took a deep breath, I told my friends to stop crying and not to worry. I told them that I knew how to get back home and they should just follow me. I had compulsive habit of reading all the banners and bill boards. I used to bow down to every temple, mosque, gurudwara and, church I saw. I still do that, though I am not a religious person. I felt if I started walking back, I could recognize banners, bill boards on the way and could trace my way back home.
So I started walking in the reverse direction of the bus that got us there. My friends were still crying. I took guesses on turns as we walked. We walked for hours. At some point I saw a familiar area, that area was Mangol Puri Y block. Now I knew we were not far from Sultan Puri. It took few more minutes and we reached Sultan Puri. I dropped each of the girls at their house, and then finally went home.
After Diwali holidays were over and school started, my friend’s parents came to school. They all complained about me taking their daughters all the way to Rohini. The teacher asked me to bring my father to school the next day and asked all other parents to come too. So next day my father came to school with me and other girl’s parents came as well. The teacher complained to my father about what I had done. My father’s response to the teacher was “Why didn’t you give her the complete address?”; They would have made it to your house!!!!”
I was happy to hear my father support me and with my first adventure, that day I learnt — I could make it anywhere all alone and find my way back.