Fifty four

On the sewing table of tailor Raghunatha sat an old radio. It would play Kannada songs every morning as we waited at the bus stand. A tree at the other end of the road, full of May flowers in red.
Shravya Akka watches as kids in white and blue uniform stroll barefooted to the school that she went to until higher primary. Her mother had tightly tied her hair into a pair of plaits, on the couch of their house.
Seena Poojary in his shop topped with areca leaves, stirs coffee for the men in white lungi who have sat at the wooden table outside.
A familiar man slides down from his house that is covered by trees of jackfruit and others, smiles at us and walks as far as he can to save a rupee or two from the bus conductor.
Rajesh uncle from his terrace, shouts out our names as he always does and asks the obvious question, ‘Waiting for the bus, huh?’
We say yes, smilingly, and turn our faces to avoid more questions.
Grocery shop of Venkappa Shetty opens up, along with the adjacent room for tobacco business. Jam-packed and balancing between other girls my age, I see him standing under the roof with both his hands on hips, watching as the crowded bus leaves. .
.
More than a decade would have passed, and Raghunatha’s radio continues to play the same Kannada songs which have now become old.
Seena Poojary is a white haired man now. Yet when someday visits his shop, he stops staring at the girls outside and goes in, to make a cup of coffee.
There are new shops and complexes standing tall, but when it gets dark and if the men would like to gather for a chat, the frontier of Venkappa Shetty’s shop is the what they walk towards.
Rajesh uncle hasn’t stopped calling out our names when he sees us walking on the narrow road by his house, now with two beautiful daughters playing around him.
And the familiar man continues to save a rupee or two by walking as far as possible until he catches a bus different from the one he used to years ago. .
.
Homies.

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