There’s a song in my playlist that I have taken some trouble to find. I didn’t know the movie the song was from, nor any other detail about it. I just knew the first couple of lines that still plays in my head like a refrain at odd moments, bringing with it a feeling of utter joy and well-being – for absolutely no reason: ‘Ghar se nikalte hi, kuch door chalte hi…’ Like any half-way intelligent citizen living in the 21st century, I too decided to finally Google the lines and see what the net threw up at me. And bingo! I got it (though I still can’t remember the name of the film or anything else).
I must have heard that song a few dozen times since I had added it to my list of chosen music, but to this day, I get the same feeling of happiness whenever I listen to it. What is strange about this is, it isn’t the type of music I would normally have chosen, what with my taste in Hindi music still largely stuck at the Rafi-Kishore-Mukesh era. It was only recently that I recalled the reason for it. A memory, more than fifteen years old.
It was back in the days we were living in Coimbatore. I had a girl, Geeta, with me then to help at home, and she and I had gone to the market a few kilometers away to get our monthly supply of household stuff. Shiva was baby-sitting Appu. I have this occasional urge to get away from my ‘motherly duties’, even if it is just to go to the market. So I had gone happily, ignoring the looming rainclouds. By the time we reached the market, however, it had started raining.
Our spirits were not dampened though, and we proceeded to buy our stuff, dodging the rain-drenched crowd milling around us. It was when we came out of the market that reality struck. It was pouring, with the road in front lost under a foot of water. People were taking refuge under any available covering, and not a bus was to be seen. A few autorikshas were parked here and there, but their tires were hidden in the water. We approached a couple of rikshawallas and asked them if they could take us to the place where our house was. The answer, without fail, was a vehement ‘No!’ One kind person who was watching told me that the road to that part of Coimbatore was flooded, and that nobody would take us that side. We’d just have to wait for the rain to stop.
It was dark by then, and even the light from the shops seemed menacing. I thought about how we might just be standing there all night, this young girl and I… I imagined Shiva and Appu out in the rain on the scooter, looking for us – not knowing where we were standing… I imagined all sorts of unimaginable things. Panic struck me, and I ran from driver to driver, pleading with them to take us. They shook their collective head firmly. That was when two young guys started their ‘auto’ and approached us. They agreed to take us home, provided we paid them eighty rupees. I would have happily agreed to eight hundred at that point…
We got into the riksha and it started moving slowly through the water. The two young men sat together in the front, talking among themselves in Tamil. Geeta never spoke as a rule, and I was too scared to speak, and the abandoned roads added to the fear. I kept praying silently every couple of minutes. Loud music beat the sound of the rain and for the entire time it took to reach home, it was just this one song playing repeatedly – ‘Ghar se nikalte hi…’
When we finally entered through the gate of our house, I heaved a sigh of relief. Standing under the light of the patio was a worried-looking Shiva carrying an unsmiling Appu whose wide eyes spoke volumes. The duo got out from the riksha before us and, without being asked, took the heavy bags and handed them over to Shiva. It was with reluctance that they even accepted a hundred rupees instead of the eighty that had been agreed on. They were completely drenched, but refused to wait for a cup of tea as they had to get home, which happened to be in another part of the town, before the rains became worse. It was just that they had seen the two of us panicking outside the market, and decided to help. A random act of kindness…
They got back into the riksha, again talking seriously among themselves. We waved to them, and before it left our gates, we could hear ‘Ghar se nikalte hi…’ emanating loud and clear from the auto.
They weren’t a couple of greedy guys out to milk a bad situation for all it was worth. They weren’t university graduates or wise old men out to do their good deed for the day either. They were just two kids with a three-wheeler who took pity on a couple of strangers on a rainy day. And they could not get enough of ‘Ghar se nikalte hi…’
Now I can’t, either.