“Indra, keep the ball on the off stump.”
And off stump is where the next ball pitched. The bat went whack, the ball flew towards mid-off. Sugata, wanted to duck the hard deuce ball, and ran on a curved trajectory away from where he was standing. After running a few meters, he looked back, only to find the hard ball about to crash on his head! Instinctively he ducked again, hand on his head, and ball thumped on his upper back.
33 yrs later, a huge underground water reservoir stands at the same place, guarded by high fencing, locked gates, and a few elders sitting in front of the pumping station.
“Hey Sudip, that’s beauty of a cycle guru! When did you get it?”
“Not mine Indra, Turki got it yesterday. I just took it to have a round.”
“Let me also try.”
“Be careful, it a SLR, very fast bike”
After taking a round across the central park, Indra suddenly noticed, Sudip standing middle of the road. The speed was a bit too much; the brakes couldn’t stop it in time; it goes off the road, through the shrubs and crashed into the fences of a nearby garden, carefully maintained by the ground floor owner.
33 years later, the road around Central park is wider, but with several speed breakers, and metal fencing around it. There is no way a cycle can go off-road, or crash into a garden, which are no longer there.
“Dadai, I have got 10 fresh Kadam today. We won’t fall short before completing our full 3 game match”
“Good, better peel it here before entering our flat; otherwise we have to clean the floor, before mom comes back.” Indra instructed his 8-year younger brother, while inhaling the intoxicating fragrance.
33 Years later – the Kadam trees existence is hidden from view by a huge 2 storied structure housing community clinic among other setups. Only a mild wafting smell indicated it still there somewhere. Surely no one bothers to use its flowers to play table tennis on the dining table, using hard bound story books as bats, anymore.
The duo nick named Physics-Chemistry walked down the lanes of the complex, debating and discussing all topics possible under the sun, while carefully keeping an eye on all the group of chicks coming in and out of their safe walk zones. The group of trios who gave them the nicknames, were of particular interest. They came to know about it through a common female friend, only during the last Durga puja. Occasional appearance of another special interest coming back from tuition with her mom stole attention. A stealing glance and hint of a smile, made the day for Physics Chemistry.
33 years later, the streets and nooks are same. There are still young guys hanging around the corners. Some with Bikes and latest Vespa’s. But I guess the checking out has moved from there to the virtual world of social media. Only some middle-aged women, walking to keep themselves fit has replaced the safe zone walkers. Who knows some of them might be the same ones who were of interest 33 years back.
Indra kept walking those very familiar streets looking for missing scenes, fragrances and sounds. He frantically tried to somehow scavenge some hints of those moments lost more than 3 decades back. He hoped at least somethings will defy the time and peep-out from the overgrown weeds. Even the familiar afternoon feature of Joginder-bhai’s fuchka stand was missing. Just an aging face of Somenath bhai behind the ironing shack waving back was the last straw for otherwise sinking hope. Just as dejected, heartbroken he was forcing his legs to take an exit, about to sweep the crumbling hopes to find his teen-age world in the aging urban greenery, his eyes fell on a first-floor window. A teenage figure framed against the window grill, in white frock, reading a book, flowing mane covering her face. His heart skipped not one but several beats as he kept looking shamelessly at the view, wondering if he was looking through a time portal. The girl slowly tucked her hairs behind her ears, unmindful of a middle-aged watcher, looked out of the windows. His eyes widened even more, coz even the face looks familiar. How could it be?
“What are you staring at?” – familiar sound of his friend jolted him back to reality, as he questioningly pointed with his eyes at the window. “It’s not who you are thinking. Its her daughter. She moved back here with her daughter after her husband died a couple of years back.”
A lump forced its way through his throat, as he stole a last look at the figure in the window. He understood, Golf Green has also aged along with him, may be a bit faster. It’s difficult to go back and better to seek the the past in its new appearance.
And then the raindrops greeted him!