I saw her after three years today. Roaming around lost in thought in mangal bazaar. I was with my father buying vegetables. It was busy and crowded as usual. I have grown up giving company to either my dad or mom every week while they dragged me along the wide road in between all the sellers sitting and sweating from morning till late evening on both the sides.
My left shoulder was overburdened with a huge bag of vegetables. My father insisted on handing him the bag but i resisted. I wanted to carry it. I wanted to be the son. It was 12 kilos of sabzi already. Jackruit, parwal, pumpkin, karela, raw mangoes, lemons, tori, lauki and what not. We always keep the tomatoes, the onions and the potatoes in the end to buy. The whole quota of one week is bought in advance weekly. The market was crowded with that kind of crowd which I hate the most. Illiterate or semi-literate saree/salwar-suit clad women with young toddlers with their heads shaved and nose running. Or sometimes newly wed couples who stay in chattarpur in rented flats. Their mush is disgusting than the smell of pickle being sold in the same market. And their clothes are as flashy as the low quality hosiery bra and panties being sold by some woman in the corner of the market. And then the mobile phone stealing crowd. one of the boys once stole my dad's nokia n73 five years ago. My dad kept on telling me to take care of my phone today. He kept on holding my hand too when the market was full of people walking worse than a blind or a drunk lunatic could.
On top of it all jatt crowd. I despise them. I live on their land too. Well. Obviously the purpose was to buy vegetables economically when again my family can't afford it. Neither we can afford my fees. Nor can we go and a watch a movie together as a family.
But then whatever. I was standing right next to this stall. My father was buying chillies, capsicum etc. He always tastes the chilly by breaking it into two, taking a whiff of it and then crushing it between his teeth. Usually it ends with a nod if its good or a disappointed reply in which he calls the mirchi 'grass'.
The same ritual was happening today as well. I was looking somewhere else. Suddenly she caught my attention. I had know her for six months. Maybe more than that. Every week, Every wednesday. I don't know if you believe in superstitions but my family sometimes does. And more than anything else, I believe in blessings. Being a brahmin these things are a part of my lifestyle. A lifestyle which I don't really fancy but respect if the need be.
Three years ago the need was my mother's to see me get into a college, pass with good marks in CBSE and most importantly, get rid off my anger issues, my temper because of which I could not concentrate on many things. Or even one. I was going through a heartbreak when this ritual started. And I wonder how feeding a cow spinach every week and donating anything green to a 'chhakka' or a 'hinjra' can actually help me cure my temper problems and let me score good marks? The first few wednesdays until we had not found this person were just spent feeding the cow green spinach half heartedly. I was really not up for this shit. Most annoying thing was to go and find a cow first. Well that wasn't a problem as I live in a fucking village stuck in the process of becoming a part of a swanky city. We have the best of the farms/resorts/beauty salons/designer boutiques/India's third largest temple and what not. And we have ill-mannered haryanvis with their cows and buffaloes and stinky hookkas everywhere too. Sometimes if there was a single cow she would just refuse my offering. Sometimes I had just one cow to offer stuff but there were 12 of them. In the meanwhile we found out about Guruji ji urf Jalebi ji too. A third gender human being who lives near the mosque and wears a saffron robe as she or he converted became a 'jogi' long time ago. So she wasn't the regular going to house to house or signal to signal clapping their way to money with fingers stretched wide and making a sharp sound which reminds every one in the society not to be blessed with the third gender in the womb ever. Even a girl will be fine for a society. But a hinjra will be too much. No. Not happening. So I went every wednesday to her house in the evening with the regular green colored offerings. grapes, green veggies, bangles, green sarees, and everything green. two items maximum on each visit. In return she would keep her hand on my head and bless me with whatever she could. Her touch was more gentle than my own mother. Her smile more radiant than any baby I had ever seen.
She was happy to see me all the time. My walks to her house became brighter from being embarrassing. The cows became less annoying too. I had to perform this each week without fail. And I managed to do so till the time I finally shifted to Pune. Before leaving she was the most important person whom I had to say my goodbyes to. When the last time I met her, she wasn't sad because I was leaving, or the fact that there will be no more weekly offerings, instead she was the happiest person to know about my marks, she prayed for my good health and blessed me for a bright future which I fail to see anymore. Specially at this point of life. I saw her today and was dumbstruck. She hasn't changed at all. I din't tell my father about her. He would have forced me to meet her and say namastey to her but I wasn't in the frame of my own mind. There was a lot to absorb already. As we were leaving the market, A man on a bike behind me addressed me as 'bhaiya' and asked me to move sideways. I smiled inside.
I told my mother about her after dinner. I made the daal today. The dinner was typically bihari today. I might meet Guruji again as my mother still has her number in her phone.