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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

12 January, 2005

Not Just First Love

The rain created beautiful patterns while cascading down the large window- pane. It also warped his visibility a bit. He stood with his hand on the window frame. It looked almost like he was greeting someone or waving goodbye.

“The rains had come on time that year too. Our parents introduced us. They worked at the same office. She was eleven or ten, am not too sure, I was six months younger. Her family had moved from Calcutta. Big-city girl she was.
Ahmedabad, for me, was the big city where there were fly-overs and city run transport and far-flung places and people spoke a different language. We had moved from Jaipur a few months ago.
She could cycle, climb trees, she ran faster than all the boys did, dunk everybody in the pool and laugh loudly. A show off but completely adorable. We hung out quite a bit, tied together with age and the fact that this was pre-television. Fishing in the river, cycling on a deserted airstrip, watching movies at the open-air theatre, plucking weeds at the graveyard, Loads of memories until I was twelve.
Then dad moved to Gandhinagar, which was a different city but half hour away. Her parents retired and made Ahmedabad their home. We would bump into each other occasionally at the club. I think I met her once when I was fifteen for her birthday. She had many other friends now.
At eighteen, I dropped out of the business degree programme in Jaipur and moved back to an undergrad degree in English literature in Ahmedabad. Kay was in the same college but now a senior by twoyears.
I do not think we spoke much, we were somewhat familiar, smiled and said our 'hi’s and bye’s'. She would hardly attend college. She had a boy friend!
Then we heard stories of her and her boy friend…they went for a holiday and came back married.
A year later, there was a baby! I remember bumping into her at the video library. Then there was another baby! By then I was doing part time jobs and was working on my master’s degree. Soon after that I moved to Bombay.
We lost touch.
A decade went by making us into adults slowly but surely. Occasionally, I heard from a passing friend, sometimes I inquired. She was in Africa, she was a farmer…her dad had passed away…she had separated from her husband…stories. I had gone on to become a filmmaker, had gotten married bought a house gotten separated…stories.

Then one day, in a conversation between friends from the city of our childhood all logging in from different cities, we met again.
Jesus! Did we flirt that day! We had known each other all our lives but still not known each other. There was so much to share, so much to tell. Faces from childhood, friends you hung out with, and then twenty years later one fine day you meet up!

I picked her up from the airport two weeks later.

She was almost the same twelve year old I knew, but now thirty-six. We chatted for hours! Terribly drunk we then sat with our legs dangling out of the seventh floor window and saw the rain by moonlight. Then we made love until morning. The next morning we left for Goa.
We were there for four days I think.
We drank from the bottle, drank from the sea, from the air, from each other, from past stories, from dreams yet to fulfil, from the time we live in and from the moment. I love her little depressions and love her laugh.
Gosh! She is loud!
There is so much fun in there; she really lives for the moment.
Does she ever worry?
Does she ever throw caution to the winds?
Does she have dark secrets, which she had not yet told me?
Questions, like sand particles, stick.”

The rain was coming down quite heavily now. He moved away from the window. I think he had been crying. “Memories like leaves change leaving the tree with rings which we count for age. She is gone now. It has been a while. She could be at the same traffic intersection and I would not even know.” He settled down heavily in the leather couch and reached for the whisky. I left the way I had come in.

© Arjun Chandramohan Bali.2005.

4 Comments:

Blogger a from l said...

Very moving, nice creation of mood and introspection.

12 January, 2005 15:04  
Blogger manisha lakhe said...

perdoneme senor b...but two things really bug me about this piece that otheriwse manages to give one the nostalgia rush. one, the math: so you did not know how old she was, but you know she's six months older than you, and you know how old you were...aaarrrgghh! And the sentence that about did she ever throw caution to the wind...looks like she did!

12 January, 2005 17:20  
Blogger bikkuri-bako said...

madame,
ah! do not jump to conclusion on the identity of the person.
did i say what the age of the person narrating was? whatever it was: she was six months older.
hehehe!
and then: caution???
hmmm...am glad you read it...carefully!
thank you madame
:-)

12 January, 2005 18:32  
Blogger Anil said...

Two things I like, the ambiguity of the narrator-protagonist and the suffused wistfulness throughout the story.

13 January, 2005 00:12  

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