Soon to be the first passport holder in the village – Part 2
We came back on Saturday morning from Bhopal and I was back at the tehsil office Monday morning. They told me that the village secretary might do it if you give them an affidavit. The secretary is a nice guy. He said he’ll get it done and I could collect it on Tuesday. And surpringly as promised, the corrected birth certificate was ready the next day!
I told Asha and her parents to pack their bags again – next Thursday evening we would be on the road to Bhopal again. This time we went by bus. When I’ve met them at the bus stand, they were wearing shawls and sweaters. This year by the end of October it’s already very cool in the early morning hours. They felt the cold last time.
I got two new comics for Asha. She told me during our last journey she gave her comic (chacha choudhary) to a guy and never got it back. The bus ride was really bumpy. One can still manage somehow to sleep, but reading is almost impossible. So we slept most of the way. We reached Bhopal at 5 am. This time, Govind, Asha’s brother was there to receive us. Their hug could tell that they were meeting after a long time. It’s not like “our” long time, where we do see each others posts on social media or we talk over Skype. Govind and his family talk only rarely and only when it’s needed. There is no constant update about life. They’ve talked for a while. Unfortunately Govind had to leave for work at 8 am.
We still had 2.5 hours waiting time – our interview was scheduled for 10.30 am. I used the time and showed Asha videos of Nyjah Huston – the world champion in skateboarding who will come and visit Janwaar soon. Only when she saw the videos she understood what world champion means 🙂 A really, really good skateboarder. She was blown away – her excitement is building up.
When it was time to leave, we took a cab and reached the passport office. We stood in the line, went inside and presented the documents. Again. Tensions were higher than last time. I could feel Asha was nervous. We passed the first person who was checking the documents easily. No complaints. When we reached the second officer it came as a surprise that this guy immediately remembered us. He exclaimed, “You are the one going to Oxford, aren’t you?” Once again he checked Asha’s documents and – he gave us a go! But we had to meet the Assistant Passport Officer (APO) once more. And so we ended up standing in just another queue. Finally it was our turn. The APO checked her application and this time gave it a green light. Wow! Things went smoother from now onwards.
Asha received a token and we went to counter A. Asha had now taken the lead. At counter A her documents were once again checked and then uploaded. She handed the documents over as requested. The very last paper of her files was an article on Asha published in the Hindustan Times, Bhopal. The guy on the other side of the desk asked what was it all about. This was Asha’s great moment. She explained about the skatepark in her village, about the summer camp and how she got selected. Very clear. Very proud. Full of self-confidence. The guy was left in awe.
Next stop: counter B. Another documents check – this time he checked the uploaded version. He asked if the passports of the parents were also in progress. Asha denied. By then he had reached the last page, the newspaper clip. He scanned the article and asked a few questions about what will she do in Oxford. Impressed by Asha’s clear answers he quickly waved her through.
The last counter, counter C. It was the duty of a no longer young lady to do the final check. She asked Asha in which class was she studying. Asha said she’d studied till class 8 but not any more. The woman replied, “you look like a smart girl, why don’t you?“ Asha replied, ”look at the last page.” The lady read the article and congratulated Asha. She wished her all the best and granted her application. Lastly Asha collected the exit slip before sailing out of the door.
The passport had been approved and now awaits police verification. This will happen this coming Saturday! Her passport will reach in the next two weeks. After coming out of the office we had a fine lunch at the nice south Indian restaurant. Over lunch, one could see the cloud of happiness over the family. They were making jokes and laughing freely. The father was also talking. We were in a mall, so the father said: “Let’s roam in the mall for some time.” He was amazed by the grandeur of the mall. He said: ”From the outside, I thought it was a not that big. But the deeper you go the bigger it gets!”
Our common journey to Bhopal had ended. I moved on to Delhi to celebrate Diwali with my parents back home. Asha and her parents went back to Janwaar. I dropped them at the bus station. Asha gave me a powerful and energy loaded Hi 5 before leaving. That said all! She was full of joy and excitement. Next, she’ll go for her visa process to Delhi – just another step on her way.