The story is about Jia and Ananya. Jia is young and seen a lot in life. May be that's why she is so scared about everything in life. Then, there is Ananya. There are many things she had lost in life. Only thing she had not is her will to live.
Walking through those familiar and irregular narrow gullis feels lot safer than the temperature monitored walled jungle. The little clouds, the stars and the moon that I can see through the space between the ‘friendly’ balconies, are mine. Everything around this place has a little part of me. Mukesh chacha’s shop has been a landmark for last 20 years. I had lost counts, how many times did I accompany him to the vendor to buy toffees, candies and gutkas in bulk on his cycle or the number of times when I handled his customers and his galla when he went out for some urgent situations. Times changes and it changes people so silently that one never realizes what had changed. As I grew and entered my teenage, I had stopped going to his busy shop. I saw the change in my body changed the looks in the eyes of the same men who stood there to smoke every day since I was born. There was a silent agreement between Mukesh chacha and me.
Riyaj’s cycle repairing shop at the centre of the lane was also the centre of all my teenage stories. My Ladybird! I had successfully convinced my mother who used to earn just enough to run a 3 member family, to buy me my first and last Ladybird. My ladybird was my loyal company to everywhere. Except some special cases. It’s really strange how every time I crossed Manik, something or the other of this cycle used to breakdown. Manik was a senior. He was neither the smartest nor the most handsome guy in the senior secondary. But there was something about him. He was tall, lean and blessed with a magical smile. He was shy but not introvert. He was a part of sports team. A problematic cycle was not a very pleasing excuse to meet the guy you dream of. Embarrassed I stood there, waiting to be rescued. And, Manik would try fixing the problem or take her to Riyaj’s shop. Those ten or fifteen minutes were hard. So many thoughts rushing into a single mind. Should I say thank you to him? Would it look too formal to say thank you to the guy I like? Should I call him for a cup of tea? Is it a hint? Am I looking at him too frequently? Is he looking at me? Yes. Yes! Should I smile back? All these confusions generally ended with a smile, thank you and a nod. And, that was all about it. He left the city for higher studies. Later, I came to know, he liked me too. I guess he had every thing except courage. I am glad it did not work out.
As the road bent, Mukesh chacha’s warm smile welcomed me. I was exhausted after 8 hours of merciless hardwork. Out there, there is no time, no waiting, no scope for mistakes. At the door after knocking, I looked back at a familiar balcony. I tried to see beyond the broken walls. The 40 watt bulb was on. It was illuminating the place timidly. Too weak of a light for such a bold female in the room, I thought. SLUT. The three years that I had spent with Ananya, were simply the best time of my life. I had not seen her for last two weeks. I did not know how I was feeling. Was I feeling guilty of something? Was I feeling cheated? Why was I mad at myself? Do I miss her or hate her more? Again, the sudden rush of unanswered questions. I left them outside and hugged my mother waiting at the door. She was surprised. I was not. I am empty. Completely empty.