The year 1987, time nine o clock the entire nation would stand still with streets bleak as everyone would be glued on to the television sets to witness yet another episode of the primeval Epic “Ramayan”. There was a knock on the door and Amma opened to behold a nine-year-old girl gleaming at her with innocent eyes. “Aunty” she asked “The television in our house is not working. Can I see today’s episode of Ramayan at your place, please?” Amma could barely hold her weakness for the charming little girl and whole-heartedly let her in. She sat and watched the episode intently along with us. As soon as the episode got over she rose up to leave. Amma called her and asked what her name was. “Fazila” she replied. “Have you come newly?” Enquired Amma and she said “Yes”. “Keep coming and play with Tanu” said Amma pointing me to her. Some envy, some awkwardness, and little warmth I had mixed feelings for her at the onset.
The next evening she waved at me from the other side of the compound and called me out to play. A bit hesitant at first, I joined her and found her company good enough. As days passed by we became fast friends and perfect partners in crime. Hopscotch, throw ball, badminton, board games, art, crafting, and comic books became our combined indulgences. Together we discovered little joys in robbing mangoes from neighbor’s trees, running away from home on a cycle, chatting on the terrace, and gazing at the stars totally trackless of time until our folks shouted out at us. And on the terrace, tents would come straight out of Enid Blyton books made with blankets, ropes and bedsheets and where we camped with stolen food. Three years progressed and our bond grew stronger with each passing day.
One day Fazila came home wearing a distraught look on her face. I asked her what the matter was. “Tanu” she said. “My dad is getting transferred to another city and we will be shifting there”. Her words felt as if the tents we built on the terrace came crashing down on me. “Hey Fazzy, is there no way out? Is it for sure?”. “Yes” said she. “In how many days?” I asked. “One week” she said. We decided and had the best time for the whole of that week and finally bid adieu to each other with a heavy heart. Years flew and everything including our permanent oath friendship got lost into thin air.
One evening on FM radio the RJ announced “Welcome people. We have Fazila looking for her long-lost friend of childhood.” “Hi Tanu I am the same girl from Ramayan days. The re-telecast flooded back a whole lot of memories, I have been looking for you, where are you my love?” Tanu felt galvanized. She rang the number on the FM and they spoke at length. Now, only for the lockdown to end and they would meet with a tight hug!
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