Memory is a weird thing. It seems to make you forget the most important things of life and ensure that you remember the least significant of things that happened around you. I either completely forget the birthdays of friends I have known for a long time or embarrass myself by wishing them a month in advance. The craziest part is I clearly remember the birthdays of some long-lost acquaintances whose faces I can barely recollect. My mother had the habit of keeping things safely, only she forgets where she had kept them. She usually brings the entire house down every time she starts looking for something that she had kept safely.Did I mention that memories are weird? Well, they always take you on a detour and you almost forget what you wanted to say in the first place. I wasn’t planning to talk about my mother. In fact, I wanted to talk about one of my English teachers from school.

Travelling alone in a city with no specific agenda leaves you with ample time to appreciate those beautiful little things that light up the spirit of the city. That fellow lone traveller, a part of whose face is hidden behind his wise- looking beard and reading glasses , the rest of which is buried in the book he reads; the chuckling brother- sister duo who discuss animatedly about what they see across the windows; the carefree young dude whose music reaches you over the rattling rails and gushing wind; an elderly gentleman who held his wife’s hands all along the journey and those assuring smiles they always exchanged. They all did have me smiling all through the day.

ज़िन्दगी है, ज़िन्दगी में मुलाकातें भी होती रहतीं हैं। मुलाकातें होतीं हैं तो बातें भी चल पड़तीं हैं। हम हिन्दुस्तानी राय रखने में ऐसे भी बड़े आगे हैं। राजनीति, क्रिकेट, मज़हब, चलचित्र- आप बस मुद्दा उठाइये और चार पाँच विशेषज्ञ तो आपको राह चलते मिल जाएंगे। पान थूकते, तम्बाकू चुनाते, ताश खेलते विशेषज्ञ से शायद पाठक का भी पाला पड़ा ही होगा। तेंदुलकर को किस बॉल पर क्या मारना चाहिए, ये मेरे कॉलोनी के गार्ड से बेहतर शायद ब्रैडमैन को भी ना मालूम हो।

I was put in charge of hospitality committee and while preparing, since filtered water was available only in the teacher’s common room, had to drink untreated water many a times. This had distorted the texture and pitch of my voice temporarily. I love my voice, both literally and idiomatically. So it was a major setback. The croaky voice was intelligible only to me. Two days after the event was over, I was going to my classroom via the library corridor. She was walking towards the library and I was walking towards her. She waved her hand and helloed. I mumbled something that I don’t remember now. She asked me if I had drunk raw water from the supply taps. I had a silly smile on my face while nodding affirmatively. She smiled. That was magic, a surreal encounter of charm and power of beauty.