The Thrilling Joyride in a Mail-wagon across the sealed Mall Road

The Thrilling Joyride in a Mail-wagon across the sealed Mall Road

My younger brother, putting my travel-bag in his official vehicle parked near the Telegraph Office, asked me to take a seat in the car…but I was not very sure of sitting in any car which plies on the Mall road, such a strong was the conditioning of my  brain, since my childhood! As my brother was, at that time, Dy.S.P. City so was entitled for this ride.But was I entitled, I thought hard and hesitated. Looking at the uncertainty on my face he showed me the number of vehicles parked nearby and it broke my heart, indeed. So, I gave in and I went in. “Didi, is this your first time?” He asked, genuinely intrigued. He knew that I would not even avail the vehicle for senior citizens plying from Telegraph Office to Boileauganj when I was staying there. “First time?” The words brought about so many memories. “I have had so many rides on this restricted patch at a time when you were not even born,” laughingly I said to my brother, ten years younger to me, as it had opened a plethora of memories. 

The proverb “Forbidden fruits are the sweetest” would never be more appropriate than for what we enjoyed as kids…doing the unthinkable!! I think Amma and all other women of the neighbourhood would be happiest lot when we , the kids, would go to the Mall for playing. Whole of the Mall, especially the area from the Telegraph office to the Ladies Park would be our fiefdom. One day we would play at the Telegraph building….going up and down the stairs or running up to the YWCA, that was so peaceful,  or at the  Church building that housed the primary section of Government girls’ school during the day. We played marbles, Stapoo, and so many other games. The cavernous and eerily silent church building, which resonated with voices during the day,  would be our most favoured place to play. We would select some particular niche in the wall and using that as a back wall of a stage, enact plays and songs as there would be none to stop us or even watch us!

The postal colony at the backside of the church area was a just a jump away and we would go there to Indu and Kiran’s home if the watchman would shoo us away for the noise that we created.

But nothing would be as exhilarating as playing outside the main entrance of the GPO as we always had a clever design in our mind. Everybody knew us, as Rana Ji’s kids and we were a big Family!  The Mail-wagon would come, perhaps thrice to the GPO to drop and take mail bags. If we would be lucky, the driver uncle would offer us a joyride in the Mail-wagon!! This particular person, perhaps, understood the unspoken dream in our eyes and would say, ” Chalo jhoota lena hai gaadi me”, Come if you want to have a joyride in the Mail-wagon!!! And we would literally jump with happiness.

Those were the days when except fire brigade vehicle, ambulance with a red cross prominently displayed at the sides and back,  and, of course, our very own  Mail-wagon, no other vehicle was allowed on the Mall. And when I say no, I mean it. Though the Governor’s vehicle could ply on the Mall but it was very seldom that we noticed it. Even the Governor’s during those days would avoid plying vehicles on the restricted Mall except when it was unavoidable. No other vehicle was allowed. Under such a strict rules, no one could dream of having a joyride in a vehicle, riding across the Mall. 

So we would jump inside the Mail-wagon, from the posterior opening through which Mail bags would have been thrown in. We would sit on the mail bags, cuddled together, with fast beating hearts so that my Bauji may not find out about this escapade of ours!! The door would be shut close and this would be the most pleasant sound to our ears. The engine of the Mail-wagon would get into action and roar and so would our spirits. The vehicle would take a turnaround at the Scandal Point and we would lower our heads so that the Policeman on duty may not see us…so afraid we were of being caught. The wagon would glide through the Mall…Beeksys, Roshan Studio, Snow-white, India Book Depot, Coffee House and even the Janki Dass would slide past our vehicle!!! It would be at the Telegraph office that we would heave a sigh of relief and take up courage to look out from the hanging see-through plastic covering the windows. It used to be an old and out-of-shape vehicle but who cared as long as it had four wheels and an engine to run on. It would gather speed after the Telegraph office and within no time gliding past the imposing Western Command, our school and the A.G. office would take a left turn towards the Cart road and would stop with a thud near the assigned place.  The door would be opened by someone and he would grope to get the canvas bag of posts, sealed with Lacquer, I would move to a corner, my heart beating faster with fear. I was afraid, very afraid, of being taken along with the gunny bags. With a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, he would say, “let’s pack these kids and send them somewhere!” The modus operandi for dispatching these bags to the Railway station was simple…these would be rolled down a mettled tunnel-like piped structure, with a person marking the number is a register and another tumbling them down the deep, dark metal pipe, big enough for comfortable transportation down to the platform. We all would be afraid lest they may not put us in a bag and throw us down the pipe. “You want to go to Delhi?” The attendant would ask, “Come, I would put you in a bag for Delhi.” And we would cringe with fear and resolve  to our own self never to take this joyride if we reach back home safely. The job done, the mail bags deposited safely, and our journey back would start. It would be comfortable now as we would have enough space to sit and watch the majestic Mall road from the moving Mail-wagon! Once it would reach the GPO, we would jump out full of exhilaration for the mission-impossible accomplished!! Our clothes would be full of dirt and we would shove it off hurriedly.  But the engraving of the experience in our brain was impossible to be dusted off. We were the dare-devils…could anyone else have such a joyride in a Mail-wagon, except, ofcourse, the posts and envelopes with emotions loaded messages? And here was my little brother asking me, “Is it your first time on this restricted Mall road?

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