Pic for Representation purpose
I walk up and down the aisle, outside the rooms covered by thick curtains. Up and down. Down and up. The rhythm. Almost synchronising with the thud-thud of my walking stick. Two thuds per step. Precision, I learnt comes slowly.
Ding.Dong. Two bells, at the interval of a minute, precisely. Such precision, I chuckle. Ammi would have been happy here, I thought. I take my cue and enter the last room on the right. Thick curtains. Slant windows. Windows facing the wrong direction of the sun. The walls, stark white. I would have been nauseated had Raushan not scribbled on its every inch.
“Ready for today's lesson?”, I asked him, sitting on the table. The wooden polish scribbled with red words. “Yes”, he mumbled. Toothless grin. Stooped back. No trace of the 13 and a half years’ boy I had known two decades back.
Early 20’s or late 90’s. I was my 20th self. And Raushan was 13 and a half. Toothless grin. Straight back. “Arfaaz jaan, I wrote you a sentence”, he said standing on the swing in the back verandah of our house. “And what did you write today?”, I asked. “Ammi jaan snores like an elephant in her sleep”, and laughed out loud. “Bad boy. I must tell Ammi. But first, your lesson for today” And every Monday, Ammi would bring two glasses of milk for the said teacher and his only pupil. Alfaaz, is what I taught him. And in return, he taught me to chase butterflies in the garden, to find the perfect rock to scribble our names on, To slingshot at Noor Chacha’s red apples and eat them by the shade of the peepul tree.
Two decades later, I find myself teaching him his alfaaz again. Same teacher same pupil. Every Monday. Without Ammi, without the shade of the verandah where we used to sit. “Show me what you have written today” And he mumbles “I stepped on Doris's cat”, and grinned. Doris was the nurse Raushan never liked.
Ding.Dong. Precision, again. I take my cue and stand up to leave. “I have a favor to ask”, Raushan says. “What is it, Raushan Jaan?” He takes a black book from under his pillow and hands it to me “I have kept it safe from Doris for a long time. But she's getting smarter” “Take this. Keep it safe”
“What is it?”, I ask. I take the book, and flipping through the pages, I find 13 and a half years’ Raushan’s scribbles. And my corrections. The lessons almost two decades back that we shared.
“Where did you find this?” I ask Raushan who was now gazing out of the window. “Raushan jaan”, I call again.
“Guard it. Be my pasban, my keeper.” he said and kept staring out.