Alas! The doctors had given up on Bosco.
His health was deteriorating by the day. Every tonic and vitamin in the world had failed to help Bosco regain his earlier robustness. But most of his peers were facing similar health problems like malnutrition, anemia and low birth weight. This could have affected their generations and it was feared that the entire tribe could go into extinction if adequate steps were not taken. Moreover, the problem was not of an epidemic or a chronic disease but more of a nutritional imbalance in their bodies.
Mr. and Mrs. Roach had given up all hope for their only son Bosco, and that’s when the doctor suggested a different remedy. The doctor recommended to stop all medicines and food supplements and suggested they hit the streets of Mumbai immediately. There could be some hope for Bosco in Mumbai, not because Mumbai had more able and experienced doctors, but because Mumbai had unlimited supply of food coupled with unmatched abundance and quality. Going to Mumbai was the only potential solution that came up for such a severe case of malnutrition, when everything else had failed.
The next day saw multiple levels of discussion within the family and their extended community at large and, in the absence of a better solution or alternate medical remedy, it was unanimously decided that the family will move to Mumbai for a while.
Early next night, they took the domestic Gutter Way from their ever-so-clean Saanf Gaon which connected them to the main underway at Sunderpur. Here they planned to halt for a drink, but weren’t able to sight a drop of leaky pipe as everything was well fitted and clean. Actually spic-n-span. They had a few bites of a stolen morsel of bajra roti which they had managed to scoop away from the ants. Bosco was more interested in the honey squash which Miss Bee had generously packed for him.
Safely and surely the team proceeded towards the huge diversion after the underway and entered the Central Tunnel. They were now, far away from Saanf Gaon and had also left Sunderpur behind. It was here, that they witnessed the early signs of hope. The smell of combusted gas, burned rubber, moist leather, stale food and most of all the smell of sweaty people, lots and lots of stick. It smelt different and good. Every breath was flavored. They were very close to Mumbai. Mrs. Raven had given them the perfect directions. The fatigue of travel had set in and Mrs. Roach and Bosco were dragging their feet, but it was the ever-so-hopeful Papa Roach whose constant assurances kept them going.
At daybreak they reached Mumbai. They rested for the day in a comfortable tin can which had some dark black fluid in it. Mama Roach didn’t know that it was a Coke can but was surely relieved to drink the opiate of oblivion from the can. It was different, but tasty. It relaxed her nerves and Bosco admitted that he had never tasted anything so divine. Bosco loved to hang around Radheshyam Milk Dairy every morning while they were at Saanf Gaon. He loved Ramu Kaka’s famous lassi, but this black beauty broke all records. Papa Roach was also pleased with this unique taste and sank into deep slumber after a hearty drink of this sweet black juice.
By evening, they woke up fresh and rejuvenated and resumed their march, full speed ahead.
As advised by the doctor, and directed by Mrs. Raven, they emerged out of the manhole nearest to Churchgate station and headed straight for the platforms. As described, they spotted several long snake-like steel structures parked within huge grooves (which they were told) were called railway tracks. They were instructed specifically to enter a metal box sporting red and yellow stripes and marked with a woman’s face on the outside. They did just that. As they entered the marked box, they immediately knew what to expect.
It was a food paradise !
A vast steel ground was spread in front of them laden with a variety of food. Bosco instantly made headway for a chocolate wrapper which had handsome leftovers. After a few licks of it, he turned to other foods which were new to him. Little did he know that he was devouring popcorn, a half-eaten apple, chips, chikki, bhujia sev, bread crumbs, fried groundnuts, strawberry biscuit, soft gum, coffee cups, more coke cans, etc. Mama Roach was more selective. She preferred to have salads first and headed straight for cabbage leaves, fillings of a spinach-mayonnaise sandwich, boiled potatoes from bhel and later dwelled on richer items like batata wada, samosa, burgers, croissants, French fries, sandwich, etc. The lesser said about Papa Roach the better, as he did not believe in adhering to rules while eating and the sight of such endless spread of food, befitting that of a king, made him hog away to glory.
The first few weeks were spent on eating and drinking any food in sight but later Mama took the decisions in her hand and laid down proper schedules for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Though she agreed that there was lack of variety on Saturdays and Sundays due to weekly holidays, they were usually able to make up for the nutritional and calorie requirements much needed by their hungry bodies between Mondays to Friday.
It was definitely better than the life they were leading in the clean village of Saanf Gaon, where the Gram-Panchayat had laid down stricter rules for hygiene issues and village behavior like eating in public places, rules for vendors, food stall operators, waste disposal, etc., which had made Saanf Gaon what it was today. A much cleaner village than the one in the good old days. Of course it was not such a great thing for the cockroach and rodent community as it led to the outbreak of a major nutritional crisis for them.
By the end of the month, when the three were in a better physical condition and Bosco started to look healthier, spent more time playing with friends and had sound sleep, they thought of sharing their food plaza with their brethren back in Saanf Gaon.
Papa Roach wrote a letter to the Head Roach of their Gutter-alley detailing the lavish food, its abundance in the railway compartments and the tension free luxurious living conditions within the grooves of the railway tracks which were never once visited by janitors in the last six months of their stay in Mumbai. The only risk was getting blown out of the trains during the fast trench between Mahalaxmi-Dadar, Bandra-Andheri, etc., but if stayed underneath the benches during these times, getting blown out could be easily avoided. However if you got blown out, you could always board the next train in the next 3 minutes and join your family again.
The other potential danger which could lead to fatal consequences was getting crushed to death or getting permanently disabled under the footwear of the womenfolk. But if one used ones whiskers effectively, getting past them was just a piece of cake as most of them made typical screeching noises to scare the roaches away but according to reliable sources it was proven that they are actually scared of roaches, and with a timely demonstration of a few flying skills there was no fear of getting stepped upon.
The post-script of Papa’s letter also mentioned the potential areas of residence like malls, large garbage dumps outside huge residential societies, kitchens of restaurants and bars, local food vendors, sweetmeat shops, roadside dhabas, food courts in multiplexes, grocery stores and many other areas which could be effectively explored.
No sooner than Papa Roach’s letter reached Saanf Gaon, it was most vibrantly discussed at the upcoming “Roach-Rodent Annual Health Convention” and the Think-Teams presented a paper detailing their future action plan. Its main objective was to impress upon the fact that small towns and villages are getting cleaner by the day and the larger cities held more potential for progress & development of the rodent community.
Within a week from release of this paper, large teams of roaches, rodents and other communities took to the streets of Mumbai and settled there happily forever and ever.
The viral effect of this wasn’t to be missed at all. A book titled, ‘Survival of the Fittest’ was penned by some ambitious fit Roach which was widely read and later published in many tongues. Animal-tongue, bird-tongue, human-tongue, etc and the practical learnings from the book were taken to practice by many other ambitious communities as well.
Likewise the Dubey’s, Choubey’s and Tiwari’s settled in Mumbai, the Patel’s, Shah’s and Mehta’s settled in the United States of America, the Punjwani’s, Vasvani’s and Bhojwani’s settled in Canada and lived there happily ever after. Thus a new era of migration had dawned, to stay and continue forever.