The burst of the coolies’ busy shouts and a lazy rejoinder from the crows perched on the overhead beams of the platform merged into a strange welcome, as the Madras-Howrah Mail chugged into the station, bringing me home. From the window, I saw the familiar scene of the men in their fiery red kurtas and white dhotis, jumping into the compartments of the moving train. Howrah Station had not changed a bit. Like Appa. Change, for him, was compromise, and therefore, a weakness.
The late morning light bathed the Howrah Bridge, which straddled the river, paving the way for what I dreaded at the moment – meeting Appa at the end of yet another failed trip. The outstretched arms of the bridge dominating the skyline were like an assurance, a source of comfort, before I faced his sharp barbs….