25 years ago I left Bombay. The incessant rain that day resonated and drowned the breaking heart and crying soul inside a 12 year old girl.
A lot was left behind. What was it?
A part of me was buried in the sea. Where was it?
With time and with growing up in a city like Delhi, memories faded, faces blurred, names were lost. The time Bombay was real, but sometimes it felt like a figment of my imagination. Whatever did remain, was locked deep inside, held very closely and remembered everyday, lest it leaves me too.
Those were days of no phones and no internet, no everything | 1992
And then technology pinged me in the form of a WhatsApp Group | 2017
There was too much chaos – amid jokes and forwards, attempts to have conversations were futile. But there was a sense of togetherness already. It took a few hours, and I had traveled back in time. Names, incidents, faces came flooding back. Was this real? I had never thought bumping into anyone from back then, in the times we lived in back then, would ever be a reality.
Yes, they say never say never. But then.
A month later, 25 of us decided to meet.
One by one they came – Strangers filling the room.
Each searching the other, reminiscing, some lost, some finding familiarity.
It did not take long for the ice to break.
Smiles gave way to warm laughter.
Memories were refreshed.
Everyone’s path merged with the others.
Language barriers fell.
Our religions did not matter.
Our statures were all equal.
Did we go back in time? Or did someone wind up the the clock that had stopped ticking 25 years ago?
When you start interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, the image begins to emerge. Our puzzle was “Rekindling Friendship”. But our jigsaw was already complete. The image had been collecting dust. That night, the winds that came from the sea, blew the dust away.
We hugged, we prayed, we whispered, we cried, we ate, we joked, we played, we laughed, we talked about everything in this universe.
We all connected.
The undercurrent of friendship was strong.
Many a times through the evening I stepped back, staring hard at the 36 year old faces of my childhood friends. All I could see were their adolescent souls. When I took their hands in mine, it was not to say hello, but to feel them in flesh and blood, to say, ‘Whether I remember you or not, you are special, connected to me from a time that I have always wanted back, always on the edge of my memory. Thank you for coming for it is helping my inner voice articulate all that had got left behind and where.‘
This time when I left Bombay, I brought back some souls.
If you are reading this, you know who you are.