Déjà vu sensations apart, she became a bit euphoric when she got down from the bus and stepped into her home town… a town where she was born, bred and lettered… a town that had witnessed her childhood idiosyncrasies and intellectual feats.’ Gosh, I’m back in my place… my home town after ages. It’s going to be a great rendezvous with my past,’ she thought, slipping into whirlpool of emotions.
The evening sea-breeze had set in already and she inhaled a whiff of it with a flourish. The salty -breeze had its aroma in tact – the scent of the home town. She giggled - her eyes reflected an overwhelming joy of having at last come to her hearth to embrace her long-last past.
The new grandiose bus-station - until now it was only a silhouette shot due to drizzling - was the first object that came to her view soon after she landed her native town. It seemed quite a new structure, disclosed the marvels of modern engineering. However, she sulked to see the new bus-station looked odd, awesome and alien. She thought of the old one, which though was crammed and indolent, gave her a sort of belongingness. Its quietude, its not being so ostentatious was so remarkable that it had left undeletable marks in her memory.
She looked out for the vast playground that had nestled by the side of the old bus-station. It was one of the cherished landmarks of the town - her all time favorite hang-out too. If you could rewind the ‘Time’ a bit, you could see her aggressively playing Badminton with her friends; you could also notice the ebb and flow of emotions on her face when she was playing a losing game with balls going past her racket. The playground was no where to be seen. Instead, there sprang up a sturdy mall in its place wiping out a familiar ambience… cutting the chords of her connectivity to her roots.
She got miffed, started walking toward ‘Hotel Minerva ’- a three star hotel where she had earlier booked a suit for her. Exhausted by the arduous bus journey she had had all through the day, she plopped into the bed staring at the ceiling full of cob-webs and peelings of paint. She woke up in the mid-night with a bang when the sea-breeze with a new momentum rattled the unfastened window doors. She didn’t close the windows - she had no mind to do so, for the sea-breeze was familiar to her- her old acquaintance. The breeze sneaked through the window blinds, soothed her frayed body. It had its old rhythm in tact, stroked her hair like her mother. ‘Welcome back home, my child’, she heard the breeze whispering into her ears, but she knew it was only hallucination of an excited mind.
It was late in the morning when she started her expedition up the town - she grinned as the very thought of it gave her exhilaration and a sort of euphoria. She chose the main-thoroughfare, walked thorough the pedestrian pavement stinking with uncleared garbage. The road was clean, but was getting strangulated by traffic snarls. High-rise buildings accosted the road on either side. They looked fresh, painted with potpourri of colors. Though they defined new sky-lines with grand ground plans, they were a far cry from the old settings. The buildings were strange, simply the outbursts of speculative minds, but lacked the soul… the homeliness.
She sighed, astonished when she saw the whole town looked quaint, not even a blur of the old one. It had razed down the past, stood on its grave wearing a halo of modernity. The roads were freshly laid, but still groaned under heavy traffic, making the old tranquility a victim. The old tar-topped roads flanked by avenue trees came to her mind.
There was not much of traffic then. On her way back home from school, she and her friends would vie with one another in picking up the tiny, olive-shaped neem fruits that had fallen down from the trees and littered on the road. Troupes of Mynas, Koels, Squirrels and Crows were seen perching on tree tops and their chirping were music to her ears.’ Where had gone the trees? ‘Who had shooed away the birds’. She wilted seeing the bare road without a single tree. The roads were as flat as the modern human minds. ‘Is this the road where I rode my bi-cycle once?’ She asked herself, paused and moved further on her way.
‘The new avatar of the town is perceptible everywhere even in the lanes and alleys’,she thought and looked out for some prominent landmark spots and buildings she once knew and grew up with: the square well [ its water was always potable] at the corner of the East Car street, the small, but prominent ‘Anand Vinayaka temple’, an old antique choultry where the tourists took refuge, her favorite cloth store, a road-side restaurant where her dad and she would take their evening coffee, the manually operated railway gate at end of the South street and above all the Balakrishna theatre[ a small structure roofed with asbestos sheets] where she had watched all most all the Sridevi films.
Among the precious landmarks, AVT [Anand Vinayaka Temple] was on the top of her itinerary. The temple was in every inch part of her childhood. Those days she would frequent the temple both mornings and evenings and help up-keeping it. Come, Vinayaka Chaturti, she along with her friends would sweep clean the temple, mop its floors with cow dung and draw beautiful Kolams [beautiful diagrams created by using colored rice flour] on the prahars of the temple. She was so devoted to the Amanda Vinayaka that, even after her migrating to Chennai, she would have the elephant god coming to her dreams and calling out to her to visit His temple.
[To be continued]
Image Courtesy: Google