the american dream turns sour

My parents had come to USA and I still didn’t have my driving license. I had my permit though and wanted to take them out for some shopping. The mall was nearby so I didn’t really ask a permanent license holder to sit beside me. While returning from the mall, I parked my car in a no-parking zone thinking I would deliver a few items in a jiffy to a friend who had asked for them from the mall. When I returned to my car I saw a cop there. My heart skipped a beat or two. Thankfully, the cop didn’t check my license and didn’t want to issue a fine as well. He just asked us to follow him to the police station following which we would be released. I smelled fish but who would argue with a seemingly rather generous cop.

The police station looked eerie. The building reminded me of those colonial buildings from India painted in red. We went inside and saw some cops drying silk yarn. I was shocked. Were these really cops? The one who had asked us to come to the police station told us to leave but said a police car will escort us till the main street. We were though told to drive through a tunnel like structure. I was afraid but I had no option except doing as being directed.

The tunnel was long and appeared never ending. Who were these people and where were they taking us? Finally, the tunnel opened to a market – the kind we have in India, with unorganised shops peppered with temples and mosques. The cop in the police car which we were following told us to enter a mosque and offer prayers before we could leave. We had to do that. The mosque’s entrance had a huge maze like structure which we had to cross before we could enter the prayer hall. No matter what we did we remained stuck in the maze. We came out to seek the help of the cop who had escorted us till here but he was nowhere to be found.


We heaved a sigh of relief and thought finally we were on our own. There was another shocker waiting. I couldn’t see my car. I took out my phone to locate my car and I could see it moving at a high speed crossing a reservoir we have near our home. That speed looked unreal. A thousand unanswered questions hovered in my mind right now. Were those cops car thieves? Was I conned into this? I was thankful we all were safe at least.

We all got together and decided to cross the market and take a cab to home. We didn’t even know where we were. Was it a movie set? This didn’t look like America. The insurance would take care of the car theft I thought. We kept on walking amidst the labyrinth like market and after a couple of hours came back to the same place. What was happening? We couldn’t be this lost surely. Google map was showing the way to our home and we took that but ultimately landed at the same place. How was that possible?

We all sat disappointed with our hearts beating abnormally. Everything else escaped me. I thought to myself, “Will I never be able to leave America now?”


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