Mrs. Selva had just sent the children to the Kindergarten school in the town of Seremban. She was about to sit down to browse through the daily papers. Just then the phone rang. She picked up the phone and was surprised to hear the children’s teacher’s voice. The teacher had called to inform that the children were all crying and she was unable to manage them. They were her two daughters, 6 year old Mala and 5 year old Meena and their 6 year old cousin Satish. Miss Dina the teacher suggested to send someone to bring them back home.
Without wasting any time Mrs. Selva rushed down to ask her neighbour Mr. Ratnam who was working in the school canteen to bring back the children as Mrs. Selva hadn’t the car. Mr. Selva had taken it and gone for a meeting in town. As soon as Mr. Ratnam heard the story, he took his bicycle and rushed down to the school.
The Kindergarten school was in the middle of the town. They knew most of the teachers, and the children looked smart in their grey and white uniforms. The teachers were friendly and kind, but unfortunately the children were not happy going to the school.
Mrs. Selva was worried how Mr. Ratnam would manage and how he would arrange to bring them all back as the public transport system was not convenient.
Mrs. Selva and Mrs. Ratnam kept talking about the possibilities. Satish was Mr. and Mrs. Ratnam’s son. Time passed very slowly. Both Mrs. Ratnam and Mrs. Selva just kept talking and worrying. As they were busy talking, they saw a group of children laughing and giggling rushing towards a most unexpected scene.
Both Mrs. Selva and Mrs. Ratnam stood and craned their necks to see why the children were so thrilled. Imagine their shock when they saw Mr. Ratnam pushing the bicycle uphill at the entrance. The real shock was when they saw Mala, Meena and Satish all three comfortably seated in the big marketing basket which was strapped to the bicycle carrier. It was indeed something exciting and funny. Mr. Ratnam was panting but he too joined in the laughter.
He pushed the bicycle into the canteen as the children followed behind laughing their sides out. The three of them gleefully joined and realised it was not that funny. However, they were glad that everything went off well. Uncle Ratnam put the bicycle on the stand and lifted them out one by one. They were all exhausted but happy to be home.
It was indeed an experience for the kids. They thanked Uncle Ratnam, so did Mrs. Selva for his presence of mind and his kindness. When Mr. Selva returned home and heard what had happened, he too thanked Mr. Ratnam and of course burst out laughing.
Nowadays we don’t realise how people those days managed without easy transport as many could not afford to have a car. You had to depend on public transport or else, it was the “good old bicycle” to cross short distances. There was no mobile phone but they managed to communicate only with the telephone and letter writing. Well, life goes on and we watch with pleasure the changing scenes over time.
Those days in the 1960s people played an important role in the community. It was indeed a pleasure to have a friend or neighbour who is kind and thoughtful like Mr. Ratnam.
Saroja Dev Param