She laughed and jumped down from the bus. Then away she went, running straight for home.
When she entered her house she found her mother awake and talking to one of Valli’s aunts, the one from South Street. This aunt was a real chatterbox, never closing her mouth once she started talking.
“And where have you been?” said her aunt when Valli came in. She spoke very casually, not expecting a reply. So Valli just smiled, and her mother and aunt went on with their conversation.
“Yes, you’re right,” her mother said. “So many things in our midst and in the world outside. How can we possibly know about everything? And even when we do know about something, we often can’t understand it completely, can we?”
“Oh, yes!” breathed Valli.
“What?” asked her mother. “What’s that you say?”
“Oh,” said Valli, “I was just agreeing with what you said about things happening without our knowledge.”
“Just a chit of a girl, she is,” said her aunt, “and yet look how she pokes her nose into our conversation, just as though she were a grown lady.”
Valli smiled to herself. She didn’t want them to understand her smile. But, then, there wasn’t much chance of that, was there?
Valli had the experience of her life when she finally dared to get out of the house and explore the joy that lay on the bus ride. She had some tough experiences, too, as she realised how fragile life was. But ultimately, she contended as the bus reached back. She had learnt new lessons and gained different exposure. The conductor was friendly, and although she did not completely open up, she had begun to trust him. The cow's accident changed her mood, but life gives a lot of options to revive one's happiness. So as she exchanged her goodbyes with the conductor, she laughed and jumped off the bus, heading to her home.
Valli had sneaked out when her mother was taking her nap. She did not inform her mother about her bus ride, as she knew she would not be allowed to. She usually sneaks out to the village streets and markets during this time. Her mother would not chide her as she knew it was within the city limits. So when Valli entered the house, her mother, who had woken up, did not suspect anything. She had a visitor and was busy chatting with them. The visitor was none other than Valli's aunt, who lived in Southern Street. This aunt was a chatterbox, meaning she spoke a lot, and she went on and on when she started on a topic. Valli's mother, who had no idea about the wonderful experience that she had on the bus, very casually asks her where she had been. She does not await an answer since she does not imagine her going to another city.
Valli sees her mother chatting with her aunt
Valli's mother and aunt talk about the philosophy of life as a continuation of what they have already been talking about. She says that life is mysterious, and there are so many things that are happening around, and there is no way one can know everything that is happening. Even if certain things may seem to make sense in the beginning, it does not mean that they will never do so. Valli wanted this to be her own secret and keep it to herself. Certain things are to be enjoyed by oneself. Also, she knew that there was no way that her mother would know about her adventure.
Words with difficult meanings:
|Chatterbox||Someone who talks a lot|
|Poke her nose||Interrupt other people's work|
|Chit of a girl||Talkative or oversmart|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. Madam Rides the Bus - Vallikannan (pp. 116-128). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.