The bus laboured along the crowded roads of Varanasi, carrying us in its cavernous belly. Children talked loudly, adults talked even louder, and laughed, and chatted like they had never left college, like they were going for a school picnic. People clicked pictures with their smart phones, then took selfies, changed seats to be with their friends, and created all sorts of ruckus. The driver looked in the rearview mirror, and rolled his eyes…..
I tried taking in the scene inside the bus, as well as outside. The roads were familiar, yet the space of so many years made my memory falter every now and then. If I were to be left alone I may not be able to find my way around. These roads, where I had spent so many years driving around in my scooter, my LML Vespa, taking Vaishali to dinners, and movies, and attending events, were now, how to say, ‘not so familiar’. Sometimes some gully, some by-lane, some street would suddenly evoke a slew of memories, and then I would be confronted with unfamiliar roads again.
Slowly we meandered through the crowded roads. I looked intently, trying to find my past, my youth, on those roads, trying to imagine a younger, a happier me driving his scooter on those roads, Vaishali riding pillion. Even this was difficult now. Yes, here was this movie theatre we went to, where we saw that movie, what was it…..ah…Dil to Pagal Hai. Ha….We had spirited Vaishali away from her pharmacology labs, making some stupid excuse to her instructor about a relative of hers arriving suddenly. The girls of our batch, it was Amita I think, were our co-conspirators, pleading with the faculty in charge of the lab, extracting Vaishali from the class. And then, bang in the middle of the day, we had gone to see the ‘first day, first show’, I think; well maybe not the first show, but definitely the first day of the movie in Varanasi.
We passed by Andhra Pul, a railway overbridge, though why it is named Andhra Pul I do not know. Later, we bypassed the railway station, and made our way through an area I was unfamiliar with…..
And thus, while people chatted, talking about home, office, kids, school, college, cars, and vacations, I sat drinking from my past, trying to collect the fragments of my youth which I had left behind on those streets, the pieces of myself which lay scattered in Varanasi.
‘Remember this place Vaishali?’, I exclaimed suddenly.
Vaishali looked puzzled. ‘No’, she said.
‘This here was that theatre….am forgetting its name…’ my voice trailed off as I tried to remember the name of the theatre which had so many memories associated with it. Finding no success, I asked the driver.
‘Say friend, there was a theatre here. What was its name?’
‘Saajan’, he said, looking at me in the rearview mirror, his eyes puzzled.
‘Where are you people from, Sir’, he asked, trying to fathom why we are behaving the way we are……
To be continued……
Check out these Amazon Bestsellers from the author –