Zindagi ek safar hai suhana!

Only when we are leaving the city do we really see it, come out of the coffee spots and gaming zones we regularly visit, and make plans about the next trip that will never happen.

Having tea with a complete stranger watching the moon high in front and the sun on our backs, saying good morning while going to the washroom, is how I want to meet people, a second time.

I met her at the dinner table last night, for the first time. We bonded over too much food and ‘where are you from? Where are you going?’

This morning we exchanged our names. So her story is: a small-town girl leaving Rajgarh for studies with friends, like a sheep in the flock.

I did not even know there is a town called Rajgarh. She came to Ahmedabad in 2015, not to study or work but to study and work, yes.

In India, rarely do girls like us know, what to do to not get into the local college after 12th and listen to relatives coyly smiling at us, ‘when are you getting them married?’ question thrown at our parents without replying to it ourselves and not be called, ‘she has become disrespectful.’

Best way out is the road not taken, a new one. Where do we go? 

2012: ’What are you doing?’ I asked my school friends.

2015: ’Where are you going?’ She asked her school friends.

We both went where they went, CPT. She went to Ahmedabad for tuition centers, I went because after a few days of CPT and her then boyfriend, I got bored of becoming the third wheel and randomly gave CLAT and got admission.

‘Why did you opt for law?’ When they ask this question on the first day of law school, they either watched too many Bollywood self-righteous movies where the protagonist came from a lower-middle-class background and worked hard(only to get into a high-fees private college) or they belong to a lawyer’s family. Only they have the good-looking answer.

Rest of us are clueless. ‘Because some of our close cousin or friend was giving the entrance exam Mam, so we gave it too. घर बैठे भी क्या करते? मम्मी घर के काम करवाती है।’

This was before the new हर हाथ में internet वाली generation. This was, stealing your dad’s phone to read Harry Potter overnight on the internet generation. Or watching what is a sanitary napkin on the common, very old, huge computer before your big brother finds out generation.

I was clueless all my life. But we all are.

Last night, while leaving Ahmedabad, I kept the irritating iPhone aside to play a game.

Name what you see, like Pooh (movie: Christopher Robin)

Rural area, beautiful homes, content people, more than we are.

I never knew what the last shop on this side of the exit is, before the silent, dark highway descends upon us, inside the bus and we all are suddenly quiet.

It was a nursery, and a house somewhere behind, which perhaps belonged to the person to whom the nursery belonged.

I named an auto, then a tempo, but the driver was eating something while looking at the neon orange-brown speedometer.

The most beautiful thing I saw, was the house near the restaurant last night. A little far and hidden behind trees, it was a brick red home, with pink and yellow string lights, hung separately by colour, one on the wall besides the door, another one on the window, so that, when you open the window, you feel the glow of the lights on your skin in the black starry night. 

Yes, there were stars, on the highway.

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  1. Altaf Lakhani

    a complete stranger person waali baat, like exchanging names and saying gm while entering the washroom is so relatable as you know ki mein abhi kaunse stage mein hu!