All streets echoed with music. As Ranjit got down the staircase he reminisced how the streets used to be packed with kids and youngsters, both in body and at heart. People now take to their rooftops rather than the streets to give each other eccentric makeovers on Holi.
As he stood while the metro approached his stop, Ranjit thought how good it would be if he could use public transport for his daily commute. He didn’t mind getting squished among bodies when it got crowded, or standing for long durations. His motorbike travels involved sitting while he drove and standing while he waited in torturous traffic. In that regard, the two weren’t that different, save for a vibrating entity between his legs. But it was the comfortable decibel level inside the metro that he liked best.
It was not late in the evening, but the curiously prolonged winters had drawn the curtains for the day. Ranjit was headed to Lodhi Gardens to meet a friend and had to change lines from Mandi House, but the route was shut for maintenance. It was a short journey and he thought of hiring an auto-rickshaw.
“Doesn’t it seem strange to you that we are going to a bar to meet our uncle?” asked Ananya while walking beside her brother. The deserted street gave the impression that it was much later in the night, giving Ranjit an ill feeling in his gut that strengthened with each step.
“I’m still trying to make peace with the fact that I agreed to go to a bar with my little sister,” he said. A streetlight flickered noisily as it winked at the two of them, giving the night some sound. Good upbringing had taught them not to drag their feet while walking, even while walking on a broken, dusty, pebble littered pavement.
It never rains but pours. Ranjit was privy of the saying, not so much its true meaning. Ninth grade English had taught him the former. Life snickered and rubbed its hands as it set out to teach him the latter.
“Sunday’s the only day I get some rest, but today you strip me off that respite,” said Ranjit.
“You rest your bum in your computer store all day six days a week. I’d say Sunday’s the only day you have a chance for some action! I invited you over because this is the kind of football game you will never have a chance to witness,” said Vipin, slightly turning his head. The biting morning air pricked his cheeks and ears.
Love is in the air. Some try to shut it out, some fling open the window and welcome it with arms wide open. But love is capricious.
Ranjit parked his motorcycle and walked to the entrance of the university, carrying the bag with sweets his mother had sent for his sister. His jeans kept trying to sneak away from the entrapment of his belly. It would have been best to wear the belt, he thought.
Visiting his sister there brought back memories from his days in college. The fervid, frantic, melancholic, and purposeful faces made him smile wistfully. The faces outside the gates resembled those within, but in there, there was a most refreshing guilelessness about them.