Sometimes my heart takes the liberty of calling strangers, friends. Without even talking to them, just exchanging looks can make you feel friendly with that somebody.
Many years ago, I used to ride on my cycle to reach school. On the way, a very beautiful girl in her school uniform, a red and white check shirt and red frock, would cross the road and stand at a bus stop waiting for her school bus. I would sometimes see her mother stand on the balcony of their house on the seventh or eighth floor of a high rise building, waving a good bye to her. Almost 4 days a week, I would manage to catch a glimpse of this fairy. Fortunately for me, Cupid’s arrow assumed the form of a speed breaker just before the bus stop. It would give me that extra two seconds to savor her sight. It was obvious to her that I was melting when she stood there teasing me. Especially on exam days, I would hate to miss her. If I didn’t see her, I would be distracted and forget whatever I had studied. After a few months, I gathered enough strength to smile at her almost every morning. I began to try to impress her by lifting the front wheel over the speed breaker (higher and higher till I risked a bad fall!). I secretly hoped that my BSA SLR would magically transform into a Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R hyper sport bike.
One day, I got fearless. Although it was a cold winter morning, when I stopped my cycle and got down, I could feel sweat raining from my forehead. I immediately got down as if there was something wrong with my cycle chain and without even looking in her direction, rode away to school. Her loud giggle echoed in my ears for many days. But like with some other encounters, I never progressed beyond being a great spectator. Strangely enough, I considered her as a friend. Today, I laugh at the whole experience that went on for almost 2 years. I had nicknamed her Lump Throat based on the effect she had on me.
Recollecting a different friendship, on Sunday mornings, I would go the violin class by bus. Every Sunday morning, year after year, I would stand at the Elgin Road bus stop in Calcutta at 730 and never missed seeing an uncle. We travelled together from Elgin Road to Deshapriya Park. On those rare occasions, when he didn’t come to the bus stand, my eyes would search for him, curious and concerned as to why he was not there. Other days, we would smile if one of us reached the bus stop late. Friend?? Of course, Yes!!
As I began to grow older, such friendships began to disappear. I am taken back to those years because a recent friend, actually, a family of friends has not been seen around for couple of months. While I live on the seventh floor, my friends lived a floor below. I could see them from my window and every time I stood next to the window with a cup of coffee watching the assembly line of cars and trucks on the busy Greentree Road, my friends would look at me with those beautiful innocent eyes. Friends?? Absolutely?? They were part of my daily life and I always smiled at them. They never failed to smile back.
One day when I came home braving heavy snow fall, I ran to the window to see if my friends were there. By this time, my daughter too had become friendly with them. You could say that they had become my family friends!
Nature is cruel and I am sad at my indifference. I could have helped that family but I didn’t. How would you feel, if you were put in a giant size freezer with your family and someone poured tons and tons of snow over your home? I would have certainly tried to fly away some place else. I hope my friends have done that too – hope they have flown to a safe place where it is warm and where they can sing and play and make friends with better people 😦
I am waiting for the summers to see them come back and once again fill my days with happiness. I am eager to hear the wonderful music of their cacophony. I can see their house swaying in the bitter cold breeze and even the angry rays of the sun are not warm enough to fill the nest with warmth.