Going Home


The embers of the bonfire are still glowing.  The few remaining logs, covered with ashes, are the only signs of last night's fun.  Lunch is over and the boys in the first party are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the State Transport buses that will take them on the first leg of their journey down to Abu Road.

The roar of the engines is heard in the distance as the buses climb the steep gradient from Paddy's Bridge to the school.  Before they come to a halt, boys are piling in to book good seats.  After half an hour we leave, waving and shouting good-bye to the masters and boys who are left behind.  We greet all the famous land marks, Paddy's Bridge, Plummy and the other hills, as we rumble past them.

The journey to the station is uneventful.  There is the usual singing.  The drivers hurtle around corners at breath-taking speed, missing precipices and yawning ravines by inches.  When we arrive at Abu Road we are hot, dusty and a bit shaken.  The train, of course, is late and so we wait in the blazing sun on the platform until it arrives.  Then in alphabetical order we are given our seats in the different compartnents, and after an hour or so we move off on the second part of the journed, to Ahmedabad.

As we rush through miles and miles of nearly barren countryside we watch farms, level crossing, herds of cattle and an occasional camel whizz by.  We spend the time playing games, singing songs, and even counting telegraph poles and bridges.  By the time we pass Mehsana night has fallen and all activities cease.  At 9 p.m. we chug into Ahmedabad, where we change to the Gujarat Mail.  We have first class compartments and there is the usual rush for window seats and bunks.  When the trin pulls out we settle down for a good night's sleep.

At 7 a.m. the following morning we are awakened by shouts of “There's Bassein Bridge.”  After a hasty wash, hold-alls are strapped and suitcases are quickly packed.  As we come into the suburbs of Bombay we recognize familiar landmarks and all heads are at the windows looking ahead for Bombay Central.  At last it comes in sight, a low grey building with its name written in black.

There is a rush, no, a stampede as parents and coolies crowd into the train.  The journey has come to an end and we are home for the long welcome vacation at last.

[From the Abu Oriole, 1959]