Ducks on the Railway Track

Every morning the three year old little girl’s mother would dress her in a new frock with matching clips or rubber bands for pony tails, and take a picture from their extremely old fashioned camera. The little girl would hurriedly gobble down some breakfast and as soon as her mother would wipe her face clean she would run outside to her father’s motorcycle and impatiently wait for her father to seat her on the motorcycle’s tank in front of him.

It was a time when seat belt laws were not yet effective, when children could sit wherever and however their parents wanted them to on vehicles, and truly have fun by feeling the breeze ruffle their freshly made hair unlike having their noses buried in tablets and cellphones all along the journey.

It was also a time when the city this little girl grew up in was peaceful and beautiful. It was not yet bombarded by billboards or skyscrapers competing to surpass the last one in height. Not yet infested with business minded zombies, foreign franchises, and power hungry vigilantes. It was a place where mothers would allow their little ones to spend afternoons in their front yards or at a neighbor’s house without fear. When people could still leave their balcony doors open as they took an afternoon nap in the warm summer breeze when electricity would go out. It was something like heaven compared to twenty five years later.

So one peaceful and beautiful summer morning, wearing a new frock with matching shoes and ponytails, jumping in joy to be seated on the motorcycle, this girl was about to leave for her Montessori school. Every morning her father would seat her in front of him, hold the motorcycle’s handles from both sides around her and that was the safest place for her she ever sat despite no belt or car seat for protection. Her joy was not only because she knew she was going to learn something new at school but because in order to get to school they had to pass her favorite small passage. The passage that had ducks on a railway track.

Although ducks are not a rare sight in most places, and nor are railway tracks, but this particular combination of both served as a beautiful start to her day. She loved driving past these ducks and waving at them every morning. If any day she would not see them due to taking another route her mornings would lack that extra flair that she only forgot once she got to school and got busy in some activity. Her father would always smile as they drove past those ducks and he had to slow down his motorcycle in order to prevent damage to its wheels especially since those railway tracks were very stubby and old. While slowing down he would show her the ducks and talk to them for her and she would just laugh gleefully in pure joy.

There must be many other fond memories of her childhood but this one is the earliest one she has. Maybe because she did not get to spend such beautiful mornings alone with her father making her laugh and protecting her from falling as he slowly got off his motorcycle without letting go of the handles on both sides with her seated firmly between his clasp, and walking till the tracks ended. Some days they brought crumbs that the little girl clutched safely in her little hands till they reached the tracks. She then used to throw them scattering them amongst all the ducks.

Twenty five years later she is driving in her car towards her home, her father seated besides her as they talk about his memories. Its a different city, a different place, and certainly no ducks on their journey, but he remembers his motorcycle vividly and how he took it to venture in different places. What he doesn’t remember at all is those ducks, or the railway tracks, or even one such morning from her childhood. They are driving home from his neurologist’s office who hasn’t seen any progress in almost a year and has just provided a fresh list of “numbing” pills as his daughter calls them because all they do is numb his sensitivity to his rapidly escaping memory instead of curing it.
There is no cure for lost memories any way.

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