I wrote this as a letter to someone a few weeks ago. I feel like sharing it today.
I have no anecdotes or little stories to start with today. My day was pretty non-happening. The highlight of my day was sitting on top of a hill at night with two of my friends and watching airplanes go by as they colorfully and confusingly mixed with the twinkling stars.
She closes her eyes for a second. There. Those particular moments are now tucked away in the corners of her mind. She won’t forget for a long time. The feeling that she got while watching the last plane fly by as the breeze caught up in her hair and as she watched the smoke from her friend’s cigarette twirl away into nothing, was a very nostalgic one. How could that be? She was still there. She hadn’t left yet. A month till her own turn to sit on a plane and fly over these lands. Yet, nostalgia was already pulling at her heartstrings; at her mind; at her whole being. She was still there, but all of this was already slipping from her hands. She had looked at her other friend just then, and she knew her own thoughts were reflected in her friend’s eyes. Nostalgia might be contagious. Moments were being tucked away in a lot of corners of a lot of minds. She knows what to write now.
Because I don’t have a lot to share with you today, this letter is going to be about moments. Just some of them. Normal ones, scary ones, extraordinary ones, happy ones, weird ones, bad ones and the good ones. Moments that stayed with me or will stay with me for a long time for some reason or the other. I hope you don’t get bored. They are really personal. You will be one of the very few people to know about them.
Let’s start with a bad moment: It was my 7th birthday. There was a party to which other children from the colony, people from my rickshaw, neighbors and some friends were invited. It was 7 pm. An hour past the designated time. And there was just one friend there. My childhood friend, Bucchi. No one showed up. It had rained that day in the afternoon; the roads were messy. Bucchi suggested walking to people’s homes and asking them if they’re coming or not. I still have no idea why my parents let me go with her. I remember walking on muddy and slushy streets in my beautiful goldenish birthday frock, and actually ringing people’s bells and knocking on doors. More than an hour of “sorry” faces and shaking heads later, I came back home and told my parents that I never wanted a birthday party ever. And I didn’t. To this day, my face goes hot thinking about it. It makes me feel like shit.
Now, a badass one: I once got so pissed off at the way time was being wasted and the nonsense a teacher was speaking, that quiet and shy, old me suddenly stood up and told the teacher off. In a very loud and angry voice. I said something like,”How long are you going to continue with this? You are completely wasting my time, as well as the other students’ time here. I have an actual exam to give tomorrow, and I cannot listen to this drivel anymore. And you call yourself a teacher, but you can’t even control the crazy and out of control boys (I think I used the word ‘lafoot’ here, which is an Hindi term for “god-for-nothing” ) singing ridiculous songs, and you’re actually smiling. If you don’t tell them to shut up this minute, I will. And, when can I leave?!” Okay, so this was when I was in 10th standard. And okay, I said this at Catechism class, which I was forced to go to by my parents until I put my foot down 😛 Not as badass as a real class, but yeah still. The whole class (of about 30-40 students) went quiet. And my friend next to me, was whispering “sit down, please” and everyone was staring at me and the teacher like a ping pong match was going on. I was so fucking pissed. I had a pre-board exam the next day, and these bunch of boys were singing really sexist shit. I just lost it after 20 minutes or so of listening to that gibberish. The teacher actually went speechless and then said sorry, and told me to sit down, and that he would start teaching properly. This was talked about among students for almost a year. I became the stuff legends are made of. Specially because no one ever expected me to ever speak at all, let alone yell at a teacher 😛
A really good one: I was again 7 years old. My dad used to be on leave on Mondays. Sundays were his half-days then. So he would always be at home when we got back from school. That particular day, he had a surprise for me. He had just come back from somewhere, and he was hiding something behind his back. He told me to close my eyes, and then he took out a roundish box and put it in my outstretched hands. It was a watch. My very first real “grown up” watch. My mom chose it for me. Black thin straps. With a small round dial. Titan. I went crazy. My dad tied it around my wrist. And gave my tiny knuckles a kiss. A very happy moment. I still have the watch. In my “locker” at home where I keep letters, cards and trinkets like these.
A scary one: My mom. A knife in her hand. She was trying to cut her finger off. As a punishment for me because I lied about something. I remember screaming and being terrified out of my mind. I was 12. My dad came running down and snatched it from her hand before yelling at her in disbelief. Should’ve seen the craziness of the later years coming, huh?
A “facing the reality of the world” one: I witnessed my auto driver get hit by a bunch of rich goons. Two street dogs suddenly came running on the road as our school auto passed, and one ran under the auto, got smushed by the two back wheels. It was horrifying and bloody. Our auto driver stooped immediately to see what had happened and he was horrified as well. Just then people of the colony started collecting, and 4-5 gunda (big bad bullies) type men came and told my auto driver that low class uneducated people like him were responsible for all the shit in the world, like killing their dogs and children. And they told him to pick up the dead dog, all blood and guts, and throw him in the garbage just then. Then they slapped him hard across the face a few times. And I screamed at them to stop, but they told me to shut up and laughed. The other younger children were too scared to utter a word. Our auto driver then picked up the dog, his shirt and hands got covered in blood, and he walked till the garbage bins which were far away, and came back shaking and terrified and joining his hands at the gundas who were laughing and smirking. He got into the auto without a word and started driving rigidly. He was usually an old, jovial guy, very kind. I saw him cry that day. It made me sad. And fucking angry. Humanity, I realized was not something all humans possessed. I wrote it out to my mom in a letter from school. I was 14.
An extraordinary one: I got a letter from my best friend, Yuvva with subject saying “I just love you”. The whole letter was extraordinary. The feelings and emotions they evoked were extraordinary too. I was 23.
These are the moments I’m going to share with you today. I have sooo many more, but I know you are waiting. I’ll share more and more as time passes, and as we get to know each other better. And I’ll listen to and read your moments too.
She’s at the end of the letter. Only one thing is left to say.