Taken for a ride

As the family's three men got off, the auto pulled away, with all the women inside.

It was summer in Bengaluru and the family decided to watch a movie in a popular theatre in Majestic. “Will it be only movie?” quipped my niece. “No, we will have lunch at Kamat and then watch the movie movie,” my teenage nephew said without a pause. It’s democracy, and all have the right to give their opinion. My son, only three-years-old, quickly said, “I want to see ‘Lion King’”. Not bothering much about the little one’s aspiration, all of us – finally and unbelievably being unanimous – decided to go to a Kannada movie. 

However, the elaborate, sumptuous lunch was good enough for us to miss the matinee. We sat on a bench wearily, watching people walk past us on the busy road, as we waited for the evening show. Curious, my little one asked, “Have all these people come to see the movie”? 

Soon, we were in the theatre watching Dr Rajkumar’s movie. “I said Lion King, he is not Lion King, I want to go home,” yelled the grumpy little one, desperately trying to set himself free from my clutches. I grabbed him and whispered, “Shh…shh...” but that was it. He gave a shrill, ear-deafening bawl. “Take him out,” yelled an angry man who, probably, was a fan of Dr Raj! Unwillingly, I took him out and bought him some candies and chocolates. As he ate, he wept. Expectantly, I asked him if we could go inside. “No,” he said firmly. 

It was time to go back home. Since, it was dark already, we decided to take an auto back home. The driver, taking advantage of our strength, asked for a ransom. He was drunk, for all I know. We agreed, though, as there were few options at that hour. It started off pretty well. But, suddenly the road tilted upwards, and the portly auto began acting stubborn. 

The driver stopped and asked one of us to get off. He started again, but the intractable, three-wheeled friend made a loud noise showing its reluctance to move forward. The driver stopped again. He asked one more person to get off and started the vehicle. Our friend gave in and moved a little, only to start gliding backwards with a sudden jerk. We were startled. Again, one of us had to get off.   By now, all the three men in the family were out.

Our old friend pulled away easily, then, with all the women inside. It was more like an archetype drama – a versatile tool used to fasten all the characters in one spot and force them to deal with the danger. The heroes were out there! Lo and behold, one of the heroes, my brother-in-law, recklessly caught the pole at the edge of the auto’s meter and stood like  Spiderman, gasping, shouting and swearing at the driver to stop the vehicle or threatening to hand him over to the police.

The driver circled the road twice, only to stop abruptly where he began, after slightly smacking past an electric pole. He grinned at my brother-in-law, showing his paan-stained teeth, and calmly said that he was trying to circle the small area to give a better start to the auto and then speed up to climb the road with ease, and of course, allow the other members to board later! Flabbergasted, all of us slowly recouped and smiled at one another sheepishly. 

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