“Hey! Hi, how are you?” She asked as she saw me sitting on the stairs of the Concert Hall.
She was Akshara. I met her last year at the same Hindu Literature Festival. We mostly attended all the events on a day together and spent the day really well. I did not get her number and Wait! She didn’t too. I forgot her face, but as the advertisements for this year’s festival popped up, she came to my mind first. I even thought of searching the Likes of the event’s Facebook Page. But from 26,000 I don’t even have the slightest chance of finding her name, even before the next event.
“Hi, Akshara Right?” I told. “Yes, Barath, without the second ‘h’ ” she remembered my name, the actual name. “So you’re a volunteer this year?” I asked. “Yes, wanted a clear picture of the event. So signed up as a volunteer. No one would see the show better than me. I am at the front, passing Time Prompts to the moderators” she told, in what seemed like a proud and happy tone. “So, you were the one, who was actually tapping on the stage when Kanhaiya was speaking,” I asked. “You saw me already! Why didn’t you talk to me then” she answered with a question. “Dude I was on the Balcony and how do you expect me to get your face and I hated you a lot, How can you ask people to end such Good Shows. I hated you a lot”. “That job was for the Iron-Hearts, someone who can stand so much Hatred, but it’s not that serious. Everyone understands the situation” she told completing the sentence with a smile.
“Had your lunch?” I asked. “Yeah Man! And don’t tell me skipped your lunch again”. I nodded. “Grow leaner and leaner,” she said. “I’m lean and healthy” I replied instantly. Before she could begin her sentence, I asked her, if she wants a coffee. We started walking to the Coffee Place. Being a crazy coffee aficionado I told her about that brewery’s coffee “This coffee is one of the good coffees in Madras. Its 50 years old” I completed a little louder. “Really!” she asked in a rather dragging tone. “Barath, last time I ordered a coffee, got it and in 15 minutes the coffee turned cold. 50 years doesn’t sound good” she told looking at me. I started walking back. She caught me and turned me back simultaneously laughing at me and telling, “Ok! Ok! I won’t talk”.
We got our coffees and I suggested we sit on the stairs with the View of the Entrance. She nodded and we walked slowly and carefully, fearing the coffee might dye someone else’s dress. We care for our strangers you know.
“So Akshara, What do you think about the festival?” I told and took the first sip. She completed her first sip. She looked like she liked the taste, told “Hmmm, Cool Man. Better than last year’s show. More People! Learned a lot”. “The decor is heavenly, little things with so much beauty. You changed the place altogether, It’s going to be harder removing all this and getting this back to normal” I told. She replied “They hired a team for it. It’s going to be hard for them.”
As we were talking a woman passed by us wearing a White floral Printed Frock and Neon-Orange Puma Shoes. “Look at that fashion sense Akshara!” I told her pointing the direction with my eyes. “Get used to it Barath. This might be a big fashion statement in 2 years” she told. “But would you do that?” “Definitely not” she was confident and I was happy. “So many new faces right? This year” she asked. “Not just faces new Skin tones, dresses, and way of life. I have not seen this kind of an Intellectual English crowd before. These people are the Elites of MADRAS. You get a chance to look at them only in a Few Sabhas, Secluded Cafes, and temples. I have seen a few of them. But seeing all these people together puts me in a state of a Cultural Shock. But in a good Sense. I mean I just admire” I told. “How good it would be to live like them! But sometimes I think it would be boring with too many responsibilities. What do you think?” she asked and took the last sip of the coffee. “It would just be a pain in the ass, for you and me. I am very sure” I told and we both started laughing. Happily, unhurtingly judgemental!
We turned towards the entrance still smiling and spotted Rishi Kapoor Ji, some 10 steps ahead of us walking casually amidst few organizers.
-© just Barath.
P.s. – Purely Fictional. I went to the festival (The best lit fest I have been to!). But met no one like Akshara. I started reading my old works and missed writing so much, getting back little by little. It’s hard to get the first word out and even harder not writing. So long!