The place was deserted, an abandoned ruin of what used to be. A victim of the slow ravages of time. Ever so slowly fading away, into nothingness… At least that’s what it seemed, until our aunt had to abruptly ruin it by adding, “It may look deserted, but that’s just because people don’t come on the weekdays. On the weekends, it gets really crowded and busy.”
That’s a joke right? I thought, seriously doubting that this dumpy old amusement park sitting in the middle of nowhere on one of the many lonely dirty streets in India could ever possibly be “crowded and busy.” I mean, there are literally no signs of life here, except some stray dogs of just skin and bone and the usual hoard of midnight-black crows that perch high in the coconut trees, and peer down at whoever may be passing by, like kings surveying their kingdom. This is pathetic!
As I was talking to myself, they—my sister, Ava, my dad, and my aunt—had already moved on, so I had to run to catch up. As we walked, I looked around, trying to appreciate the cool breeze that hadn’t seemed to stop blowing since we got to India from the US, a glimpse of light and freedom in a dark endless tunnel, rather than dwell on the burning heat that beat down on us unmercifully like a slave driver, bringing down the whip on an out-of- line slave.
As we wandered around we saw empty food stalls and forgotten ride parts lying discarded on the ground. The ride operators weren’t even at their operating booths, but rather grouped together under trees, talking, looking surprised when they saw us approach, and giving off the immediate impression that even they didn’t expect people to be coming.
As we approached, one of the guys stood up with a pained expression, seeming to ask us not to make him get up and go do his job. Honestly, I’d say they got it pretty easy. Getting paid for sitting around, talking, and occasionally pressing buttons or pulling levers. He led us over to the Ferris wheel without even asking whether we wanted to go on, thus solving the problem of “Which ride should we go on first?” Ava and I got in the first cart that came by, and as we closed the gate, the wheel rotated upwards, so that our dad could get in another cart.
“These are sooo not safe!” Ava exclaimed, as we noticed that there was no seat belt, restraining bar or anything whatsoever to keep you from falling out, aside from the floor and the about threefoot gate that you could open from the inside.
As the huge wheel slowly and cautiously pulled us up, like a scared puppy first entering its new home, Ava and I just sat there feeling more bored than ever. So, to make some fun, we began leaping from one side to the other to get the cart rocking. “CREAK… CREAK…” the joints groaned as we pushed them back and forth, back and forth. We continued to torture the poor flimsy wooden boards, with no apparent alarm or even the attention of any of the few surrounding people. No one even seemed to give us a second glance, which was rare considering that ever since we got to India, people had been staring at us because of how we looked and dressed. As we were cruelly punishing the sides of the cart, the cart started to sway to each side. And not just swaying like a young tree’s new branches gently quivering in the breeze. More like rocking hard like a tree caught in a thunderstorm with no way to shield itself from the harsh blows it was receiving. As the cart continued to swing from side to side, quickly gaining speed, we looked down over the low wall, at the rapidly approaching ground.
“SWISH… SWISH… WOOSH… WOOSH… CLANG… CLANG…” shouted the gears covered in a thick layer of mud-brown rust; I could practically hear the CRASH! that was certain to follow.
I shut my eyes and gripped the side of the cart, holding on for dear life. “Ahhhhhhhhh!” Ava and I screamed, only to have the air rush up our throats and drown out all the sound we were pouring forth.
We got closer and closer, until I could see the very patterns of the bricks on the ground… and then we zoomed upwards, back towards the pure, peaceful blue sky, free and safe, like new-born birds learning to fly. Life was bliss.