Twenty-six

I could see a familiar nigger face coming from the right end of the road. Must be maid Sushila’s son Shekhar, I thought and I turned to my left; to Shekhar! So then who was this guy I saw earlier? And I returned my gaze back to the right. The man was now half a road ahead. Sr-i..ni. Srini, it was Srini my second cousin, my childhood buddy, who made our childhood days worth reminiscing. Whom we had climbed the hillocks with, caught piffling fishes in the small pond and swimmed in the not so small pond. Whom we learned to play cards from and who frightened me and Sunil with ghost stories that never existed. Who climbed the trees and picked down bunches of jamuns and garcinia for us.
He was now standing in distance to where I was and said ‘hi’, interrupting my walk down the memory lane. I stood still, with my hands still crossed, neither too shocked, nor too surprised.
‘Srini! What a surprise’ I outbursted in the middle of the bus stand.
We talked for quite long, until Uncle Rajesh interrupted from his house not too far from where we stood, asking ‘Isn’t that Srini?’ leaning forward from his sitout and I yelled back ‘Yeah yeah it’s him’
Srini turned back smiling. And clanked the gate open to talk to Uncle. While he had his back on me, he assured that he’d meet me later. I nodded.
Before he flew to Dubai, we had had a small fight. I, including every member in both our families were mad at him for having passed my personal number to one of his friends who was trying on me.
It had been two years. No phone calls or messages were exchanged. He didn’t give me his number when he got a phone and I hadn’t accepted his friend request on Facebook.
Now he’s on vacation. Says he’ll be there for another month. We might not climb the hills, or catch fishes, or play cards on the front porch, or swim in the farm lake or race in the paddy field. Jamuns and Garcinia are not the season. But we could definitely relive the good old days over a cup of coffee. So I invited him over ‘Come home and visit us before you leave alright?’
‘Sure’ he replied with a smile.

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