I was studying in fifth standard when we shifted our house from Agrahara, one of Mysore's older central localities to Saraswathipuram, a relatively posher locality on the outskirts of the city("extension", as we used to call these outlying new areas then). Consequently, I had to change schools too. Probably a month had passed in the new school when one day the school was declared closed for afternoon due to some teachers' meeting or something. My younger brother, two years junior to me, was also studying in the same school. We finished our lunch boxes and then weren't sure what to do for the afternoon. No one will be home and we didn't have the key. Mom used to teach in a school in another part of the town, close to Agrahara. Dad's office was close to our school, but we knew he won't let the two of us go home by ourselves - he will either ask us to stay with him in the office or insist on taking us home. Idea of spending the rest of the day with our disciplinarian dad didn't quite excite us.
That's when we got the idea. Let's go to ajji's place! Our ajji (mother's mother) was also staying in Agrahara, quite close to our old place. When we were staying in Agrahara, our daily routine used to be to go to ajji's place on the way to school in the morning and drop off a set of clothes to be used later in the day (and anything else mom had asked us to carry). Once the school was over in the afternoon, go back to ajji's place, change from school uniform to "home clothes", eat the snacks that ajji has prepared (dosa, uppittu, idli, chapati, etc) and then run off to play with friends. Mom and her sisters used to come back from work later in the evening, gossip among themselves and with their mother for a couple of hours over snacks and coffee. By the time we were done with our play and Mom with her gossip it used to be well past 7 in the evening. Off we used to go to our place, just in time to have dinner, finish whatever little homework that is to be done and then to bed. As a result we used to spend a good portion of our waking and non-schooling hours in ajji's place, all our friends were from that street rather than near our own house etc. Since ajji was always at home, we never had to worry about things like what to do if the school closed early.
Now, barely a month in the new locality and new school, we were already missing ajji, aunts and our friends from that street. We had been there just once or twice in the whole month and for those who were used to spending close to 4 hours everyday there, that was clearly not enough. So this half-day closure of school (remember where we started?) came as a blessing for us. Going to ajji's place for the afternoon, having the snacks prepared by her and reconnecting with friends there seemed like a perfect idea. But then came the question - how to go there? It was quite far, atleast by Mysore standards. We could have taken the city bus, but neither of us had a penny in our pockets to pay for the bus fare. But our enthusiasm to go to our favourite granny's place was such that we didn't let such petty things come in our way. We decided to walk all the way.
By the time we reached Saraswathipuram 1st main bus stop, barely 1/10th of the total distance to be covered, we were already a bit tired and the thought of going ticketless on city bus did cross our minds. But a sense of self-respect and the fear of getting caught (more of latter than former) prevented us from taking that route, and we marched on. Soon we reached district court office and the road diverged there - which led us to our next problem. Which road to take? As I said, we had only been in S.Puram for a month and weren't much familiar with the route. After a bit of thought, I said "Left" and off we went. It was only when we reached RTO office and saw the familiar landmark of a house with a chariot on top that we were sure we were on right track. We continued with more vigour, now certain that reaching the destination was only a matter of time.
Soon we reached Siddappa Square and mom's school was nearby. We entered the school and mom was surprised to see us there. "How come you are here? How did you come all the way from school?". "School is closed for afternoon, amma. We came walking". She was close to tears hearing that. Her colleagues started hugging us and we felt like some heroes. Mom hurriedly took permission for half an hour from her headmaster, we took an auto and headed to ajji's place. Mom dropped us off and went back to school. More hugging and crying by Ajji. She prepared our favorite snack - akki rotti. Mom and aunts came back in the evening and the entire discussion that day was focussed on our heroic walk. There was quite a bit of crying and some cursing of our dad too, for having shifted to that "godforsaken" place against everyone's wishes and for having separated the kids from their grandparents.
As for us - we enjoyed the walk, enjoyed all the attention and were happy to be back in familiar place with familiar people. And oh, akki rotti I had that day is probably the best I have ever had in my whole life. All things considered, not a bad afternoon.