The thing with old friends is that even if you are not in touch on a regular basis, the moment you meet up, it seems like just yesterday we met each other.
That night as we sat and spoke, no matter what, our conversations always went up till late night ,early morning until both of us dozed off to sleep.
Dupi was teaching at the Air Force School and luckily because it was summer, she didn’t have to get to work.
Staying in a cantonment/ air force station is something else. There is absolute peace. As we woke up and lazily moved around the house, I remember sitting in their beautiful backyard and sipping Chai.. Lots of trees, birds chirping having Garam Chai.
Dupi and I always became those friends in our teens whenever we met,we spoke the same way to each other, laughed at the same stuff, laughed out loud at the weirdest stuff only she and I could get.
And that’s something I always cherish, to bring back that little girl that’s always inside you. That little girl that hasn’t lost it’s innocence nor mischievousness, she is always there like a butterfly laughing with that belly shaking 🙂
I had an evening flight back to Hyderabad. The kids were up and about. Loveleen as usual was his quiet self. I realized he always let us be, always. He wouldn’t ever come in between two friends chatting nineteen to dozen, quietly he would just be in the background doing his stuff.
Harnoor, the older girl was already feeling the pressure of next year studies and was taking Maths tutions. She was very clear she wanted to become a pilot. It was heartening to see how her parents were constantly encouraging her, it was a step towards a change.
It was also amazing to see the relationship Dupi shared with her daughters. Very open, very straightforward and never judged them. They told her everything and she was more a friend than a mother.
She was giving them exactly what she never got from her folks, Freedom. Freedom to think for themselves, freedom to pursue anything that they wanted to do and freedom to tell their likes, dislikes, crushes,anything, she was there for them to lend an ear and support.
I remember Dupi telling me, so you are going to all these treks right? Let me take you to a small ‘hill’, our own ‘trek’ !
The hill happened to be an elevation in the park inside the Air Force station. So we ‘trekked’ as she put it, we had a fantastic time that early morning, walking across the park as she showed me around the place.
We saw some senior officer’s daughter’s wedding that was going to happen in the next couple of days. The whole place was getting decorated so we shamelessly went and posed in front of those colourful set ups! It was total fun being those two young girls all over again. Look at the photos and you will see our impish grins and laughs 🙂
That morning Dupi made delicious Aloo Parathas with lots of home made Desi Ghee. Dollops of it in fact!
I saw how swift and fast she was as she was making it. Sometimes you just can’t get out of that zone, as in thinking Wow how much we have all grown older! Dupi, now a mom with two kids, married, responsibility and all.
As Harnoor would be dropped off for her tutions by Loveleen, Dupi, myself and Simar decided to see a movie. Yup, the perks of living in an Air Force station was that there was a movie theatre that showcased the latest movies.
Initially we thought we will get outside but when I told Dupi that after all the travel I didn’t want to see’Delhi’ so off we went to see this movie ‘Mera Naam Shabana’.
It was fun as we munched popcorn, waited for the others to turn up until the movie started. It was a good movie, not your usual commercial Masala one and I enjoyed it more because of the company I had.
It was almost time to head back to the airport. Dupi made sure I ate lunch before I left. I remembered how last year she sent across a beautiful shawl to me which I took everywhere with me after that. Yes, even to the trek. That shawl reminded me of the comfort of a dear friend, of Dupi.
When she saw the shawl I was carrying, promptly she gave me another pretty shawl saying now carry this too with you 🙂
It was time to bid goodbye to them all.. As I sat in the cab and gave her a big hug I felt so light, so happy. She was full of light and energy.
The sorrow of ending a long and eventful journey was eased out thanks to Dupi. Meeting and spending time with her made me realize that nothing is permanent, neither routine nor a break nor a journey.
Once I reached the airport, I promptly checked into the lounge. Yup, I had pre-booked the lounge pass with my ticket so I could relax a bit and put my feet up. I didn’t feel like sitting among a crowd with noise.
I went straight to the bar, ordered Chilled beer and sat it out.
It was one hell of a 3 week journey … It seemed like a lifetime, it seemed that everything changed.
I looked at this journey like a time traveler. The places, the people I met, the connections, the disconnect, the acceptance, the mountains, all of them became my teachers and taught me so much, the ones who came in and out of my travels.
And there is so much more to look forward to in this journey. Isn’t it?