‘Saajan’. The name resonated in my mind, evoking strange feelings, like the name of a long forgotten beloved. And the place where this theatre was, was called…….again a pause, a break in the train of my thoughts, and then it came, the name….’Sigra’. I smiled, and gestured towards Vaishali, pointing towards the place where I knew the theatre stood, a little ahead of us.
‘What?’ Vaishali asked.
‘Remember Saajan, the movie theatre? It is somewhere here on the right side’, I said, and both of us peered intently out of the bus towards our right.
The object of our attention came into view slowly, since the bus could not move very fast in the daytime traffic of Varanasi. The road was flanked by a row of swanky, upscale, glass-walled showrooms selling all kinds of wares. In this row of shops, was a break, a small by-lane of sorts, with an old wrought iron gate leading into a small clearing behind the row of shops. There, standing gloomily behind a brand new Bata store selling shoes, was the dilapidated building of the theatre which had screened so many blockbusters a little over a decade ago, before the multiplex had killed the single screen. The building stood in a state of disrepair, its paint peeling off, the window panes broken, the iron grill barricading its verandah rusted, a mute testimony to the ravages of time which spare none.
I watched, spell bound by the sight of the building, its ruins telling a story of their own, communicating to me an eternal truth difficult to put into words. I looked at Vaishali, but found that her attention had wandered off from the crumbling building to other things.
‘Where are you people from Sir?’, the driver repeated his question, breaking my reverie, disturbing that ‘moment’!
I looked at him with blank eyes, willing myself to focus on the present rather than the past.
‘We are all from different places, all over India actually’, I said after a moment’s pause. ‘We all used to study here in BHU, and have come back to visit the place after nearly twenty years.’
He nodded, finally beginning to understand our excitement.
‘A lot must have changed since you were here last, no?’ he said, continuing the conversation, not expecting an answer, but talking for the sake of conversation. But my mind had wandered off again… I was trying to recollect the different places, residential or otherwise, which our bus would pass through on its way to the Assi Ghat, the ghat nearest the BHU campus….
To be continued…..
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