They called it the memory lane. Those who went down the street found themselves lost in delirium and were left wanting more. I was a lonely traveler in search of perks. The blue satchel I carried had only a few hundred rupee notes and a bottle of water which had been there for the last few months. As a result my only fluid companion was left undrinkable.
They say every road has its distinct character. However this particular street didn’t seem to follow that rule. The board at the entrance said- ‘Welcome to memory lane. Hope you enjoy your visit.’
The foot paths were smooth and white in some places and in others, were grey and broken. The gravel was uneven and one could easily lose his balance on certain slippery patches. There was also a possibility of losing a foot in the puddles spread across the street like polka dots on fabric.
The buildings on the side walk belonged to different eras and the hawkers had eyes resembling hawks. An old lady with a black umbrella was walking beside me; our steps matching. She whispered, pointing at one of the hawkers who was staring rather rudely in our direction, “they watch everything, they are like the omnipresent souls that fly around in search of weakness. Be sure not to stare for too long lest your eyes be burned.”
The sky was a blur of colors. A sort of confused disco ball emanating all shades of the spectrum. In some places the clouds were blurred as if the careless painter had dropped water on his canvas under the influence of spirits and melancholy. The trees decorating the street were unusually branched as if stretching their hands as a cry of help.
But there was one tree about a kilometer down the road which was illuminated with yellow chrome and sprinkles. It looked happy; euphoric even. It could well be a wise old banyan with its roots to the ground and leaves looking like chirpy school girls in the morn. That tree was bang in the middle of the road and somehow the inhabitants of memory lane had let it be.
Nearing that tree, I heard the chirping of birds, the thundering of clouds and the call of the sea gull all at once. Don’t ask me how, but I did. I could feel my smile emerge from a place I did not know existed in me. My chest felt warm and light weight. I was nearly happy.
Further away, the diverged roads, separated by a barren patch of earth for about a few feet, converged once again. Again the disco colors returned and the hawkers could be seen perched on their porch like vigilant birds of prey. By now I was used to their stare and they had ceased to be an object of concern. They were now just background noise meant to be ignored.
The road turned into the right and scene changed. Now, instead of the hawkers, there were empty stalls and the buildings had been stripped naked. The only color in the sky was grey and the trees were burnt at the bark. I could taste the rust on my tongue. The lady beside me said, “Time is the culprit you know. Look closely and look hard. This is what we all will come to.”
It was scary and thus I increased my pace. I did not want to know the games time played on people and things alike.
The road turned yet again and this time I saw water on both sides of the road. The waves were crashing on my right and a yacht was sailing lazily on the left. The latter was calmer and monotonous whilst the former was exciting and terrifying.
A tumult of emotions overcame me. Truth be told, I did not know what I was doing there. It was supposed to be rejuvenating and refreshing. But I was left with a mixture of thoughts and feelings I could not make any sense of.
Further down the road, a few kilometers walk ahead, my journey ended. The last thing I saw was a green board which said—‘Thank you for visiting memory lane. Hope to see you soon,’ before my alarm clock woke me up just in time for class.