WRINKLES IN TIME

It’s the ordinary that evokes nostalgia. It’s the everyday, blend-in-the-background moments that stew for eternities, before they turn into that one image your memory flashes every time you reminisce. The corner chaat place. The nondescript stationery shop at the next bend on the road. The fix-it-all garage near your college. The sleepy second-hand bookstore. The wise faces of the vegetable hawkers.

They were there.
All the time.
And you saw them.
All the time.

But you never know how much they make the place you call your home, home. Until one day, when you go to pick groceries and you see one of these old faces and you just smile. And you go back in time, back when mummy would give you a hundred rupee note and a long list of things to buy and you would pedal away on your pink Miss India gold and load up your basket with everything.

And now, you go there, say a hi, and they give you that glowing smile, the oh-this-kid-isn’t-a-kid-anymore-how-kids-grow-up-so-fast smile and you’re left wondering, when did the time fly by?
Yes, it’s the little things that make for a hard goodbye.


Image courtesy:  Nirmit Shah

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Two steps back.

Last week, while returning home, I left my purse in a cab. I was in a hurry and it was getting late. I stopped to buy some fruits and discovered that I didn’t have it with me. I panicked, looked everywhere, emptied bags twice over, retraced my steps. To no avail.
It was close to midnight.
In the stress, I called a friend, almost tearing up. He asked me to check again. I checked my bag. I went back to the fruit stall. I even went back to the place the cab had dropped me to. I randomly started looking inside the cabs parked there, looking at their owners, hoping against hope that my cab would be there. But no, my cab had left.
Cursing my stupidity and carelessness, I started walking back. Just then, a guy who mans a coconut stall near the road called me and said, Madam, someone is calling you from the other side of the road.

I turned and saw that my cabbie Bhaiya was there, waving my purse at me. I went and collected the purse, hardly able to believe my fortune. He had been waiting there for almost 20 minutes, hoping I would come.
The Bhaiya said, Madam please check if everything is there.
It broke my heart, this statement, and in tears I said, Bhaiya, apne return Kar diya, ab aur kya? (Bhaiya you returned it. What else is to see?)

The world is made of good people and of bad people. I’ve been told I’ve been lucky, that maybe it was just my day, that it’s a 1 in 10 case. I know that.

We find it so easy to discount goodness, and where we see it we treat it as an outlier.
And if something bad happens, we don’t waste a breath in painting everyone with the same brush. Had my cabbie forgotten to see the purse, or had waited for 15 minutes instead of 20 and left, or if just dropped it somewhere else, everyone, myself included, would’ve just said that yes, that’s what was bound to happen since I had been careless.

But that was not bound to happen.
Therefore, before we make sweeping statements, painting people black or white, stereotyping them until there are such strong presumptions about people that rational thoughts doesn’t even come to our minds- we need to take two steps back. We need to wait. And as a society we need to come out of this crisis of faith, of broad generalisations, if we’re to live a life where we don’t keep looking over our shoulders.