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  • Purva Grover

As I watch my city change...

Rarely do we get a chance to rewind. So, each time I spot a possibility that is a laced with a promise to take me back to the times gone by, I embrace it; no questions asked. My bags are packed and this time around I’m headed to a city, which taught me all that I know about love, pain, belongings, and patience. It’s the city; I was born in and where I learnt how to crawl, walk. It’s the city; I learnt how to drive, and walk around wearing heels. It’s the city of my firsts; crush, job, salary, heartbreak, mobile phone, late-night party, et al. It's the city, where I made friends for life, and sadly, a place where I lost one of my best friends to an accident. Yet, it's a place I keep going back to. The city speaks to me as no one else does.

A couple of hours ago, I booked my tickets to fly down. Soon after, I dropped a message to a handful of old friends and acquaintances telling them about my visit. The message was followed up with a list of things I’d want to do — the 'spots' I wished to visit, the foods I’d like to eat, the shops I'd want to check out, the roads I'd want to drive on... No sooner had I sent the messages, I was flooded with replies that made me sense the distance.

My favourite bakery that made the world’s best Danish custard is no longer a tiny shack in the neighbourhood. It has expanded to three outlets, including a two-storied one; also it has an active presence on Instagram. The road I learnt how to drive on has a new name. Also, the trees bordering it are gone. The eatery, where we cut birthday cakes, shut a couple of years ago. The landlady of the house I rented too finally gave in to change, the house wears a fresh coat of paint. The single cinema, the only one in the city, which screened films in English is now crumbling under pressure from multiplexes.

I will be meeting the city after a gap of six years. Perhaps, six years is indeed a long time for things to change. I too have changed, but I am certain the city will recognise me — for, who I were and am at this moment. My fear is will I be able to accept it, for what it has become? It does make me selfish, for while I chose a path to grow, shine, and move on — I didn't want it to follow suit. But then, I can’t allow my city to grow, change. For, if it does, it will erase a part of me. So, I put myself first.

I make a fresh list of things. I find comfort in the fact that the barber, who gave me my first haircut is still around. So is the vegetable vendor, who used to talk me into buying spinach leaves. Also, the rusty swing in a neighbourhood park has survived. I am excited to hear it squeak as I force the old one to move. Yes, that there is my silver lining.

I could share with you the name of the city, but then a lot gets lost in names. Why don't you close your eyes and think of the city that’s your soul mate — you'll find yourself staring and expecting the same from your sepia-toned memories.

This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.


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© 2018 by PURVA GROVER