Nine year old Johnny's twin was down with fever. Mother had nodded her assent when Johnny had expressed a keen desire to wear his bed ridden brother Mark's brand new naughty boy shoes to the school. After all it was the Independence Day celebration and the collector would be there to hoist the tri-colour after which goodies would be distributed to the students of Balipara High School.
Johnny would hold his head high and literally holler out the national anthem, his little heart bursting with pride to belong to a great land like India.
His reverie was broken as mother combed his well oiled hair and straightened the collar of his white cotton school shirt. Everything seemed perfect today with the sun shining bright, a wonderful set of parents and a terrific brother in Mark.
Johnny made up his mind that moment before clambering upon his father's bicycle for a bumpy ride down the dusty village road to school that he would grow up and be a teacher in Balipara High and never secretly cherish the idea of being a fireman in the city faraway.
By the time father had pedalled to the school gate the image of the big red fire engine with the shiny jangling bell had ceased to haunt Johnny and had become a mere wisp of childhood memory.