After a long time of ten years, I revisited the place where I grew up. Remnants of a misplaces childhood. Scattered. In narrow gullies occurring at unexpected turns on the road. In the soot laden buildings that look haunted. In the once flowery garden that hasn't been tended to in a decade.
People still live there. There's the old Shiva temple that still has its red-yellow lights glowing in the evenings. There's the Mosque which comes alive with a long drawn breath of freshness only during Ramzan. There are ghosts of people, walking absentmindedly with expressionless faces.
I met my neighbours. Aunty, Uncle and 3 people who I called 'friends' before I called anyone else that. These are friends who have seen me walk around in my diapers. Friends I celebrated everything and nothing with. Christmas, Diwali, Ramzan, New Years... everything existed for us kids, just so we could celebrate it. Every firecracker in the sky was for us to see. Every blade of grass, just for us to walk on. The world and everything in it was our plaything. An excuse for rejoicing.
When I went back to their place, nothing in that house had changed. It still felt warm, it still smelt of fresh herbs and there was the familiar aroma of jasmine incense. Somewhere in the kitchen, a broth was boiling. "For you, beta", aunty said. I said I was famished. I wasn't, I had just eaten a stomachful outside but I wouldn't miss eating that food for the world.
There were no hugs, there was no "So great to meet you after such a long time!". We just sat down and talked. I looked at my friends with a gleam in my eyes, which was reciprocated. A common friend was married with a baby. My granny passed away. Their cousin's husband too. I graduated. The eldest of my friends has a job. Her sister is the same height as me. She always had the same height as me. Their brother was tall as an old bamboo plant.
It felt like I had just seen them yesterday. Roads, faces and skies, never forgotten. Always cherished.
As I left, they saw me out to the door. Nobody said goodbye.