Shaheen awoke on this warm April day. Sunlight streamed into her room through her white lacy curtains. She stretched lazily and then got up from her bed and walked straight to her cupboard, took out a small packet, then sat down again. She carefully removed the sky blue soft satin cloth to reveal a small blue-coloured radio which she had kept secret for a long time.
She closed her misty eyes and caressed the radio as if it was the face of a loved one. This had been a daily ritual for her for forty years. The past was so vivid and clear in her mind’s eye as if it was happening right now. Again it seemed like yesterday…..
She was fifteen; carefree, simple and innocent, living in a joint family. They had a gigantic house with a winding staircase in the centre and a well-manicured garden. Peals of rapturous laughter of children resounded at all times. In the neighbouring house lived Raman, who was her best friend. They all played and spent a lot of time together, celebrating all festivals in each other’s company. There was a common wall and no distinction of yours, mine and ours.
One day Shaheen and Raman went to the local fair. There was an air of festivity, with multi-coloured streamers and festoons hanging everywhere, and many food stalls inviting the revellers. Shaheen’s mouth watered at the sight of scrumptious chole bhature, pav bhaji and panipuri. They ate to their heart’s content till they were satiated, then they walked around the fair hand in hand.
They looked at the stalls and one caught her eye; right in front was displayed a medium-sized blue radio. Shaheen was magnetically drawn towards it. The stall owner switched it on to show them, and old film songs magically streamed out of it. She was exceedingly fond of music and singing but had never ever seen a radio in her life. The shopkeeper tried to entice them into buying it and offered a discount of Rs.100. But still, they didn’t have enough to pay for it. Dejected, they left the fair with a heavy heart.
A week later, a neatly wrapped package came to Shaheen’s house; she opened it and was delighted to find the treasured radio. She ran to Raman’s house along with it and hugged him with all her might. From then on, they sat every day near the lake and heard their favourite songs together. Later she came to know that he had sold his watch to get her this precious gift. They continued with their rendezvous for quite a few years, until the day when suddenly there were riots in the town. Shaheen’s family was compelled to leave their home overnight and cross over the border to settle there.
Coming out of her reverie, she kissed her precious keepsake and put it back where it belonged. This had always reminded her of the lost love and the priceless memories of her beloved!
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