The Goodbye at Oval Maidan

Rajabai Tower didn't change colours like it does at times. The clock chimed a tad softly today, as we both walked through Oval Maidan. It was the last time that she would walk through this enigmatic place that she had grown so fond of in a very short time. It was here, in this dark ground where someone had tried to grope her. It was here that she roamed about when she arrived on the first day. Trying to make sense of the vast puzzle of people, of the sounds and the smells that greeted her. It was, in the truest sense of the cliched term, an assault on her senses. The heat was harsh but the people were kind. Well, at least some were. Rest were curious she concluded and didn't bother much with them.

I can not write about the times that I didn't spend with her. But I listened in utter fascination to her tales of the lands to which she travelled to. Of the souls that she came across and of the fun she had. I couldn't say if I was envious but I certainly felt drawn to some of those things. I couldn't say if I was in love with her but I certainly felt good in her company. She always chided me for being too serious. For being too uptight and for not letting myself loose. Her other friends lived their lives more freely, I, on the other hand, was a regimental fellow.

But then, we got along well. We always had something to talk about. Something interesting. She always had questions that puzzled her and I was only happy to solve some of them. Stray blonde hair(her term, not mine) tied loosely, sometimes let free like her soul, a jhola and some loose fitting garments. She was an ideal hippie. She smelled good at all times and her hair was soft. She was particular about personal hygiene too. I looked forward to spending time with her. She never judged, she rarely complained and she loved travelling on the local and maybe that is why we were friends.

We always walked. To Asiatic, to Max Mueller, to Churchgate Station, around Rampart Row, to VT, to the Falooda place, to anywhere. We enjoyed it. Just like today. Oval Maidan is a dark place in the evenings except on full moon nights. A car turning at the corner flashes its lights on as it zooms past on Maharshi Karve Road. Casting long shadows all around and for a brief moment, when it falls on you, you are under the spotlight and then in the dark again. And just as we emerged from the spotlight of a fancy car, she stopped midway and looked around. Letting everything around her sink in. The familiar sights and smells that she was bound to miss back home. The sensations were being etched into her memory.

We sat down on the grass. There was no summer breeze but it wasn't unpleasant. We were silent for a moment and then she fondly recalled her initial few days in the city. I listened in awe. One needs strong guts to survive this city, even for a day. She had come to live here for almost half a year. She was as old as I was. A few months younger actually. I turned 22 a few months ago. She was still 21. And she was living her age. I was older but she was wiser. She always invited me to parties but I always turned down her invitations. She never gave up inviting me and I never went. Like I said before, I was a regimental fellow. Perhaps I should have gone for at least a few of those parties. It only would have meant more time and fond memories with her..

She had her quirks and I had mine. She was sarcastic and she was kind. She was generous and she was funny. She had a great eye for photography and her observations were sharp. She was attractive and her personality was magnetic. She lived in the moment and didn't plan. She was everything that I could never be. I told her that I would miss her. She looked at me and said that she would be back soon. I hoped she would come back next week. A year or two is a long period of time. And I do not know where I would be then. That's when the clock chimed again, announcing that it was time to go. Time to let her go. Time to say Goodbye. She would soon be a memory. And as we hugged and I hoped that time would pause for a few moments, just for a moment, I struggled to say something but then gave up and let silence take over. Words were not needed.

I couldn't say if we would meet again. But I can only hope that we do and when we do, I might have loosened up a bit. For, she, I am sure would be the same hippie that I bade farewell to at Oval Maidan.


Anonymous said…
Nice post - sweet without being sentimental. I am sure your friend would have liked it too!
Hope you meet her again :)
Rushikesh said…
Hey Manali, thank you for dropping by at the Fourth Seat! Well, I can't really say that this is 100% non-fiction, maybe some of it is true ;)

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