Mr. G R Narayanan's house
The other day, after what seems like a life time and is more like 20 years... I landed up in Mylapore... the part of Chennai thats steeped in devotion, prayer and old culture...this area also houses some of the creme de la creme of good ole Madras.
Ofcourse, 20 years is atleast 1/4th of a full life and since places these days seem to transform overnight, I was practically lost in this old- new place...After dropping my older one in her class, me n the lil one started walking up and down, searching for a tuck shop, to buy yet another packet of the orange chips (Lays).
After going criss cross around 3 times over, I got the chips and some more junk; it was on our way back to the start point that I noticed this old, almost dilapidated building standing like a sore thumb in the middle of the shiny new landscape. Reading the name "Sumanth apartments" was like turning on the tap to a flood of memories.... of days spent returning from Adarsh to Shanthis Aunty's house along with my bestie, Shobana. I just stood transfixed, lost in the past, until my lil one nudged me and asked me to open a packet of junk for her.
Driven purely by impulse, I started walking towards the apartment, whilst swiftly "turning" the pages of my life backwards until as if by magic, I could effortlessly remember my bestie's father's name. I term it magic, coz my lil sis will vouch for the total absence of RAM and ROM in my "computer".
So it was magical for me to simply produce the name so quickly,after such a long gap!
I peered into each block, seemingly impervious to all the strange stares and glares I received from old residents, until I found his name, printed on the name plate in the last block. I just dragged my lil one up the stairs until I reached the third floor... she kept asking me ever so many questions... how long was it since I met my bestie... how do I know her parents will still be there and so much more logic...
but I was determined to relive some of the best days of my life...
As I rang the bell and waited for the door to my past open, so many memories just flooded my mind, as though I were watching a lovely movie in fast forward... the days spent playing with Shobi and her lil sis Charanya... the lovely kuzhi paniyaarams Shanthi aunty would make, straight from her grinder, whenever we just turned up, unannounced... on an unconnected note, mobile phones have really spoilt the pleasure of having an unexpected visit from someone you cherish!
The door opened and there stood Uncle... I waited with bated breath (also because I was panting after climbing 3 floors, lol) for him to recognize me... it seemed impossible to me, until Uncle so accurately said "Shobi's friend, right?". My lil one just kept looking at my delighted face, coz she was so intrigued and puzzled all at once..
It seemed as though time had stopped in Shobi's house... everything was the same.. from the dining table to the same good ole grinder in the same place... the same cupboard with the golus in the same shelves and even Shanthi Aunty's collection of Ganeshas.... I realized that day that it is so comforting to see that nothing has changed atleast in some part of your life... somehow it makes you feel like you have more of a grip on it.. I know its just an illusion but I let the illusion comfort me atleast briefly.
I was disappointed and a bit forlorn to hear that Shanthi Aunty had just gone to the temple.. I so wanted to see her. Uncle was as cheerful as he always used to be... this despite a paralytic stroke! I marveled at how well they both seemed to manage everything all by themselves, despite the impediments presented by old age and disease... only I felt a wee wistful that they were all alone... he was so beatific and upbeat...
After waiting for some time, I gave up hope of seeing Shanthi Aunty and after sharing my number, I got up to leave. As the door closed, I felt oddly sad.. as though the door to the carefree me had suddenly closed. I went down the steps slowly, trying to come terms with the closed door and thats when I saw her, sitting in a chair just outside! I was so delighted to see Shanthi Aunty! It looked like she was taking a break before climbing the three floors up.
I hugged her and was thrilled to see that the feeling of delight at rediscovering each other was mutual :). For a moment, I was transported to the past; I felt like the young girl I used to be, so full of so many dreams and my heart on my sleeve! Memories of exchanging ever so many Mills n Boons, so many afternoons spent dreaming about the "perfect guy" who would walk into our life..sighh I guess Sanju Baba was right about the "Jaadoo ki Jappi" ... this "Jappi" took me back in time:)
I wistfully left, after promising to keep in touch... with her and myself... 20 years ago.