As I stood there in my uniform
beaten by the monotony of the routine,
one look at the watch fluttered that heart
of me who was then thirteen.
Maa peeped out of the kitchen window
to look for the rickshaw wala who didn't show up again,
I hid my thrill and knitted my brows
to register a complaint.
She heaved a sigh
and titled her head in agreement,
thus began my trail
full of adventure & fulfillment.
Walking through the street
and so many familiar faces,
with all types of people
from all sorts of races.
The journey began with welcoming smiles
from Raghu Kaka's tea stall,
where Mohan & Joshi were yet again
engaged in a political brawl.
As I ambled ahead, containing my elation
I saw Sona Kaki with her gajraas passing by,
the fragrance of her beautiful flowers
scented everything nigh.
I moved forward
breathing in the distant aroma,
and accidentally bumped into
my neighborhood friend, Sumona.
She helped her mother
in vending fruits during the day,
the fact that she could roam around
& I had to get schooled, came much to my dismay.
After waving her goodbye
I explored my way ahead,
& came across Tinu the boot polish guy
who was always dressed in red.
I had never seen a boy
so delighted with his job,
thinking of whom I stumbled upon
the newspaper hawker, Uncle Bob.
He tipped his hat
to acknowledge the distant encounter,
I lifted one of my hair braids in response
& received his uproarious laughter.
As I approached the end of the street
my heartbeat reached its peak,
there he was, the boy I fancied working with the barber
trust me it looked like he was Greek.
He was immersed in his own world
with no idea of my existence,
& here I was trying to peep in it
struggling to maintain my distance.
Ruffled hair & off-white shirt
paired with blue pants were his basic,
but to my frivolous amuse
it was sure a classic.
I was too young to understand
the prevalent social construct,
& would often leave flowers for him
the one on the way I had plucked.
Then I would hide behind Sam's bakery
& wait for him to note,
he would look around with curious eyes & usual smile
& there went the flowers in his coat.
His smile would be the highlight
for weeks coming,
nothing more I ever anticipated
just some songs I kept humming.
Then one visit he wasn't there
I saw a new boy in his place,
my heart sank & my smile vanished
never will I ever see his dear face.
As I stepped ahead to take
my walk of disappointment,
I saw some dried flowers on that chair
waiting for their attendant.
A tear rolled down my cheek
paired with a beaming smile,
oh he knew
he knew someone fancied him all this while.
It’s been 10 years now
but my heart still skips a beat,
I am reminded of disheartening realities
when I walk past that street.
Years of societal conditioning
he must have beared,
he knew he couldn't pursue it
so he never dared.