I remember reading Malgudi Days as a kid, and I remember reading about Rama Rao. But Swami and Friends…that only rang a very faint bell in my head. Malgudi Schooldays was recently given to me as a parting gift. And as is the custom with me, I badgered the presenter to write something in the book. (Some people refuse to follow this rule. -__-)
So my friend decided to write this in the book:
I looked at my friend blankly and asked, “But what does that even mean?”
“Wait, you haven’t yet read the book?”
I shook my head, and held the book out to our other friend, “Does this make sense to you?”
Being much wiser, this friend smiled and said, “Yes…it does make a lot of sense to me. Read it, read it – you’ll get it.”
On my way home, I kept thinking about the inscription and the obvious connection to the book. I hadn’t read it yet – and I was dying to know what it meant. I was thoroughly annoyed because I had to pick out story books for a neighbor’s kid. I hastily picked out Arabian Nights and an Enid Blyton. I am somehow sure, no one will feel the need to introduce the kid to Arabian Nights and felt it was my duty to do it.
I got home, gave the books to my mum – engaged in conversation with her. Then leapt into my bed with the book, and took exactly two breaks while reading the book: one, for dinner and the other to whip up a dessert for the family. After a long time, I finished a book in less than three hours.
I grinned like an idiot when the book started out, laughing with Swami and at Swami. And as the story progressed, I kept feeling sad for him and sorry about all the troubles he kept getting into all the time. I flinched when I read about the violence meted out to him…and the ending.
It completely and utterly broke my heart.
Because now I finally realized what the inscription my friend had written meant. The significance of those words in our lives and in Swami’s lives became one big blur for me. And I decided to seek refuge the only way I know how: writing.
I understand the knowing smile on our other friend’s face.
I understand the evil glint in my friend’s eyes.
And I realized that the trains of our lives have slowly begun to gather speed. It was so nice to think that even twenty four year olds sometimes have all the time in the world. (We spent a good part of yesterday afternoon building houses or trying to with lego! :P)
Right now, I’ll be the one standing on the platform, watching your train pull away, waving farewell at you… J Goodbyes have never been my favorite thing. So I’ll just tell myself what a wise man had once said, “Never say goodbye. But au revoir…”