Nineteen Nineties. The place, as I envisioned, is where one can be in the ambiance of the suburban pastoral beauty, while having the nearest town just a call away. There you see kids in uniforms walk in a sympathetic haste through muddy roads, and you hear the giant bell of the nearby church toll intermittently.
Our protagonist is a small girl of the house, who had been celebrating her tender age under the care of her parents and the love of grandparents. The elderly people at her neighborhood were also not stingy in showering unfathomable affection upon her. Though she never felt lonely in the nearness of her dear ones, what she loved most was the occasional visits by the little kids from a distant place at her favorite neighbor.
Those kids used to be there on visits at their grandma, especially during vacations. She made good friendship with them, and it became a habit for her to wait for their visit during the long holidays. Once they came home, they used to involve in several games, like, hide n’ seek. Imagining the shades of the big mango tree at her patio as the kitchen, and treating mud as rice and coconut shells as pots, they had mock cookery practices. When the grandma of that house went to the feast of the church with her visiting grandchildren, clinging on the wrinkled palms of that elderly woman, she also had accompanied them.
Years passed by. Our little girl grew up. The changes happened to her during the passage of time, made her aware of her womanhood. Just like any other girl from Kerala, she also had to censor her movements, behavior and interaction with the opposite sex. When finished her college, she went to India’s Garden city, Bangalore, for higher studies.
Bangalore, as always, was a dream. There in that big city, she found the meaning of freedom. For the first time after those long forgotten magical childhood days, she felt that she was liberated. Finding herself walking even in the late hours through the pavements of the city, she enjoyed that kind of freedom, reserved till then to the male category only. But alas, soon maturity overtook her sense of freedom.
She returned to her native place after the studies, and later found a job in a company in Cochin. It was the same company, where this Blogger also joined later. One day, as part of new appointments, she happened to interview a young guy. Despite of his timid nature, she found him capable of doing the tasks; but his candidature was rejected by some other means. A few months later, he was interviewed for another profile by some different people of the same company, and he was selected.
Several days after his joining, one day, he showed up at her desk, and asked,
“Do you remember me?”
She said, “Well, you were there for the interview!”
He said, “Apart from that, don’t you think we had met before?”
Though she had found some familiarity in the hesitant nature of the boy, she couldn’t recollect in what way he was familiar to her. She admitted her failure.
He breathed slightly, and after a pause, said in melancholic tone, “We used to play, during vacations, when we were children, on my visit with my sisters at my grandma’s house. We used to play hide n seek, under that giant mango tree, beneath which, we had cooked rice of mud in coconut shells; we used to go to church festivals, with my grandma…”, he searched for words.
She stood still electrified, while taking time to identify the youngest one of the neighboring grandma’s grandchildren.
One day, desperately thinking about the topic for the next post of Vanity Moments, this Blogger met her. During the normal conversation, he asked her to contribute a topic. When she reminded him of the story of her Ouija board experiment, which she told him a few months before, he encouraged her to tell another story, since he had already written enough number of horror stories.
And, then she started to tell him the story of her forgotten playmate from the beginning.