It is 9:50 early in the morning and I am all decked up to leave for office. With laptop hanging by my side, I set out for my destination. The bus stop where I take a cab to my office is some 8-9 minutes walk from my balcony-less abode. Getting down the flight of stairs I fish for my mobile in my pocket. Finding it, I take it out and excitedly dial a number. Traveling some 1000 kms my call finally rings a bell which my mother has been earnestly waiting for. In no time a very normal mother-son interaction ensues. By that time I have covered some 300 meters in close to 3 minutes. The autowalahs, the ricksahwalahs, the thelawalas all seem busy catering to their customers. The morning sun is spreading its pleasant warmth. I look at the Sun, the way Sachin does before beginning his innings and after completing a milestone and seek his blessings. Yes even I cross a milestone everyday, the one erected along the roads. In fact I cross two of them daily. Since Sachin's name has surfaced, let me wish him many many happy returns of the day from all the people who would have the pleasure of reading this blog. Honks, horns, cries, whimpers, yells, and bells; I can hear them all. Head-butting against the stairs of the two temples on my way, I think of the just one thing. Why this rush at the temples? Aren't we supposed to have taken the path to moral decadence with gay abandon? There is only one explanation I give myself. Either the world is reclaiming the path to righteousness or the people throng there to seek forgiveness in advance for the evils they are likely to perpetrate in the hours to follow. Someone there says "Sai Ram", I ignore him for he is seemingly all too capable to be sitting there and expecting alms. As I take a few more steps, I reach a T-point to the left of which is a 500 meter long stretch and which, arguably, is the most enjoyable part of my journey. To the left is a confectionery shop where I buy my morning breakfast; a sandwich. The frail looking uncle sitting there once told me, "beta khud aakar wahan se sandwich le lo". And these days, I just enter the shop, get to the other side of the counter, pick up a sandwich and hand over the money to the uncle. Everyone else there have their eyes popping out in surprise.
My mother has the whole world to talk about. I do not know where does she get so much to speak about day after day. In close to 9 minutes conversation that we have, my airtime is at most a minutes. And I tend to expend the entire airtime allotted to me in the first 2 minutes of our conversation. So when I am on this stretch, I am usually just doing "haan, haan". Listening. Hearning to be precise. But nothing beats the pleasure of listening to your mother even if she is talking about what she talked to the maid of a neighbour who only recently moved in and about whom you have no inkling at all. In the meantime I say "Hi" to a girl. I call her the "Hi girl". We have a strange kind of relation. I do not know her. She doesn't know me either. But we HI each other with a broad smile on our faces. All I know about her is that she is always clad in a suit, preferably a pink or a blue one. She is a beautiful girl in her early twenties and a very attractive one at that. There is one similarity that we share and that is what made us "HI friends". Whenever we meet we are always busy on our phones.
Just like me she is deep into her conversation for the entire stretch. She is usually not all laughter but an innocently cute smile keeps playing on her face. We unfailing meet in this stretch and as we draw closer to each other a muted HI with a restrained waving of hands greets me. My smile broadens as I say HI and wave my hands. We move forward. That is not all. There is just a little more to our Hi-friendship. I turn back to find her turning back as well. We share another round of smiles and proceed ahead. And that is all for the day. The best thing about our friendship is that I do not think about her. Out of sight and out of mind she is. I never ever encounter her when I return from my office for I return at odd hours. But whenever I find myself alone on that stretch of the road, she crosses my mind and thinking of her smile I smile to myself. Meanwhile I haven’t heard anything my mother has had to say. But her stories are like Bollywood movies, you can understand everything even if you miss everything.
As I was walking down the same stretch of road at around 7: 50 this Sunday evening, I heard a “Hi”. It was her. In a pink suit again but looking refreshingly beautiful. I dedicate this blog to my Hi-friend. It is only her inspiration that I sat down to write this blog.
Have a happy time my friend, ALWAYS