Funny thing about life of small town girls and boys is that they have grown up dreaming to achieve big in metro cities by doing something extra beyond their mundane small town lives but often they end up coming back to their homely towns for an inspiration to get their acts together.
So was the Shreya. She landed at her hometown after a long struggle in the city. And for a change, she decided to call up an old friend, Vinod, who was still living in small city tales running his own business. He is someone who doesn’t give a shit about metro life, or living out for fun of it. He has a very clear perception of life, to live with practical means. He is the one person who knows how to be content. Despite of a great intellect, he has chosen to pursue a small town life instead of settling down in a big metro city. Shreya has always respected him for his clarity in life. On call, she told him about her experience of the metro city and how she has decided to take a break. He has heard it all down with long patience in his head and replied softly to her telephonic ears that it’s all going to be fine and its’ great she has given preference to her mental health for which break definitely sounds like a good option. Both chatted after months and still felt like good teen friends like they used to be in tuition classes. Vinod has a family now, with a caring wife while Shreya was still living as a carefree single bird. Both of them have fixed a meeting for an in-person interaction. After three years, they will be seeing each other in person. Though they have stayed in touch electronically but Shreya couldn’t meet her old friends much while being too occupied in her busy world.
She has not been very much aware of her small town development, so when it comes to in person meetings, she wasn’t sure where to meet, she decided to go by the choice of Vinod. She was surprised to know that specific cafe culture has started operating in her own small city, hearing on same from his old friend, she felt confident that her city has some decent places for friendly chit chats. But she was a planner, she love to fix places in advance and she prefer luxury than randomness, so yes, Shreya was surely hesitant over the choice of place as she wasn’t sure what sort of cafe’s have developed in this city.
It was 6’o clock in the evening and Shreya was rushing to get ready for her meeting with Vinod. Seeing the rush, her Mom asked “Where are you planning to go?”. To which Shreya told that she will be coming back soon, just meeting his old childhood friend, Vinod. Her Mom was aware of him but she added further query on this meet and asked her “Is his wife also joining this meet? Have you invited his wife too?”. These queries opened up her mind into another unexplored territory of courtesy, though she told her Mom that his wife was also joining but she knew that she has forgotten to even invite her. Now, she didn’t know why was she lying to her Mom on this. She hasn’t gave a single thought about the fact that her childhood friend now has a family. Assuming that everything should be fine and she shouldn’t bother too much into this, she walked away from her home to explore small city lanes. She decided to take her little scooter (Scooty), the one which was lying around for a while and nobody has bothered to touch it for a ride. Even the paint started fading, but scooter felt alive after feeling first few kicks of its rider.
Riding on her old time scooty, purple shades of its color suddenly started covering thoughts of her mind mysteries. Once she reached the venue, she was surprised to see chain of few decorated cafes on the side of market where she was used to see only local food corners in her childhood. She was happy with the choice of Vinod. With a smile, she entered the cafe and waited in a cozy corner for him. Like always, She was particular about time, she was either a little early or generally on time. Soon, she saw a man with a well trimmed beard and smart glasses entering inside and walking towards her, and it didn’t took much time for her to realize that he was Vinod. With a lean yet fit figure, he walked towards her and sat in front. Seeing a changed matured adult, Shreya thought about her friendship with him, how she ended up being friends with him. She recollected the piece of memory when he asked her permission to sit near her during a tuition class. Soon, they ended up chatting and discussing every day’s tuition assignments. Both were sharp minded kids who loved to solve complex problems and loved to discuss about their ambitions in life. That’s how it all started. With this thought, she ended the silence of peace between them and asked him on how he has been and how’s life treating him. To which Vinod smiled back at her and told her how his small business was expanding into nearby places and how he has finally ended his randomness of life by marrying a caring girl. To this Shreya apologized to him for completely forgetting to invite his wife today and also she apologized for missing out on his wedding due to her busy scheduled life of before. Ending the era of apologies, he tried to bring comfort to her surrounding by his friendly charm and told her that there was nothing to feel sorry about.
Vinod said with a smirk full glance at her “My wife was not a childhood friend of you, I am. So, we both know it’s a meeting of our friendship”. It was this unsaid and unexplained comfort of friendly environment which he usually brings to her and to which Shreya was completely in awe of.
A youngster who seemed to be have given a charge of taking orders, approached their table and asked about the order. Shreya was being asked if she wanted to have any flavor added in her order of cappuccino, to which she said that she wanted it simple, classic without any additional flavors. This simplicity in her yet with a complex life was what Vinod liked the most. He said “Thank god despite so many changes in your life, your taste still remain simple yet classic”. And both laughed at that. Later both shared the stories of their life from the ends where they got disconnected with each other, it was a time of connecting the dots of their history, their past and how the paths turned out to the present they were living by.
A heartfelt chat session ended soon once Vinod’s phone rang. It was his wife’s call. Before he could end the session, Shreya understood the family’s urgency and called it a day. And he could see now a matured yet confused adult getting ready for a faded yet alive purple scooty’s ride.
Shreya came back with a nostalgic smile on her face and contentment in her heart. She walked into her room, opened an old cabinet to read some of her favorite old novels, meanwhile she came across a handbook of her poetry where she used to write during school days. And just when she was going to read the first poem, she could see a message popped her on phone, it was from Vinod. He said “I felt like I met a lost childhood friend today, I loved the way we discovered our old friendship”. With an amazement full smile on her face, she started reading her poems to relive the past once again.
Next morning, she shared one of her poem with Vinod by text. He replied to her text saying “Where were you hidden Shreya, Where?”. All this time, she knew that she could write poetry and could trust it. Before she could come out from her poetry world, one more message popped up on her phone screen, where Vinod was asking her to meet again. With excitement, she said yes and told him that this time she will decide the place.
On the day of their meeting, Shreya took a cycling route to old lanes of her tuition center. Once she reached, she was surprised to note that she could spot Vinod there already, seems like he was more eager to meet. Seeing her bicycle, he laughed and asked her “Wow, each day you are coming down from city routes to town ways, yesterday scooty and today bicycle, now next will be walking only I guess”. To which she replied “I am trying to relive my tuition days and cycling would remind me that in a better way, plus it’s a healthy approach”. “Ok Madam, can you please park your bicycle here. I want to take you somewhere and I know this cycle won’t be able to coordinate with my bike, so I offer you a ride till we reach our destination” Vinod said. She agreed. It was a while since she has taken a bike ride, she was afraid that this time she was doing with a married man, a sudden sense of awkwardness developed in her eyes. Suddenly, he shook her hand and told her to sit behind immediately without wasting any more time. She took a leap of faith and joined him on this ride. Trying too hard to resist her hands to put on his waist, somehow he guessed the awkwardness and told her “You can put your hands around me for support, its fine, we live in artificial world where any form of human support is wonderfully acceptable”. To which she laughed out loud, with a sense of unfamiliar lovely awkwardness, she managed to put her hands around his waist while he could sense a touch of delicacy. Bike stopped finally in a basketball court of their old school. It was the area where she usually came to cheer for his basketball game.
Recollecting the memory, she asked him “You remembered, this was the place where we could meet mostly as our class sections were different. And I surely waited eagerly for every match of yours to watch and cheer”. Vinod replied “Exactly, that’s why I thought this could be best place to take you to relive our childhood days. And a day after, I am going for a business trip to Jaipur city, would spend few weeks there, so I thought it’s a good way to say bye till we meet again”. There was a certain love filled gaze which Shreya was trying to avoid but desperately failing every time her eyes locked with his. Taking a different topic, she asked him why he was wasting his time in roaming around with her when he has family and business to take care of. He couldn’t reply but gazed at her mysteriously. And with a friendly laugh, he finally said “Why do you want to ruin such a beautiful moment of our friendship? I have been and I will remain your friend and friends don’t need a valid reasoning to roam around together”. Getting a little emotional, She replied “I am sorry , I think I have not been a good friend to you for last few years, I was so engrossed in my life that I forget to keep a check on you. But now I will ensure that I don’t lose my friends because of my self-centered behavior. I will change for good.
She started moving towards center of basketball court and said “Do you remember the tall brown eyed guy in your basketball gang? I used to have a huge crush on him”. Vinod replied “Yeah I remember him and I caught you staring at him during the matches. Your constant untiring stare, how could I forget that?”. With a loud laugh, She continued the conversation asking him who was his crush those days. Now she was standing in the center of the court, soon Vinod joined her close and said in her ears softly “You”. After saying this, he instantly walked away.
A moment when your heart starts beating so loudly that the only wish you have is to let it breathe out in open, it was an exactly this kind of moment for Shreya on listening that word from him. Gathering the courage, she walked towards him and asked “Are you serious? I really thought you never liked me more than a friend”. He replied “I couldn’t express that earlier as you were so vocal about your school time crush and I could feel that you didn’t liked me that way”. Vinod came closer to her, watching her eyelids moving up and down, he said “There was not a single moment when I haven’t thought about you and there haven’t been any moment when I haven’t thought of meeting you in future someday, I have always admired you more than a friend. I am sorry for revealing it now but I couldn’t help it”. Seeing the sea of emotions fluttering across her, She replied “I respect your honesty. I don’t know what to say but I am sure that I don’t want to become an issue in your life”. With those words, she walked in rush towards the bike and said “We need to head back”.
Entering inside home, Shreya thought how tough it is for a person to see love. Seems like love had been roaming nearby her and she couldn’t identify the same for such a long time. She messaged him “Sorry for an abrupt end of our meeting, it was tough for me to gather all the emotions you have poured in front, so fearlessly. You have been an inspiration to me and a wonderful support system. We can’t go back in past but we surely can live up to the fullest in future and I don’t want our friendship to affect in any way by this. We can have many heartbreaks in life but friends are the ultimate gift. Good luck for your upcoming trip, goodbye till we meet again. Your friend forever, Shreya.”
With this message, she discovered a lost love in her small town realizing that –
You can find inspiration in any type of love for love to find an inspiration in you.