Monday, January 30, 2017

Dear Rita

tr. from Sunita Katyal's हमारा दोस्ताना और वो कॉलेज का जमाना

Dear Rita,

You would also remember our college days?
It's been more than forty years. Lalbagh College,
Lucknow. We used to walk to it, and all through
the way, we'd chat and laugh like monkeys.
Do you remember Zoology's Ma'am Verma,
and Botany's Reva Bhatia?
You'd surely not have forgotten
that handsome practical examiner
who had come for our biology exam?
And how all our teachers went crazy over him,
the next day Ma'am Bhatia got a bobcut,
and Ma'am Verma came all done-up.
All of us students took his autographs
as if he was some celebrity, right?
And, do you remember, how we used to call
that Art Faculty teacher 'Murgi' behind her back?
Damn, those were the days.

Later, we still took the same rickshaw to Mahila College,
even when our homes were far from each others'.
Do you remember waiting for each other on the road-side?
Where sometimes, the loafers around would say
"good-morning," and we'd pretend we did not hear them.
Do you remember that PhD holder Ma'am Ishwari,
whatever topic she'd start teaching, she'd end up with another.
And that Inorganic Chemistry sir who'd
tell us stories within stories,
what was his name, I can't seem to recall.
And that Organic Chemistry teacher
who used to sing us lullabies?
Do you recall how we used to make faces
when they made us stay after college for N.C.C.?
And how, in later years, because of our different streams,
we had parted, but still, kept on meeting each other.
I still remember chatting with your Bhabhis,
and playing with your nephews and nieces on my lap.
In your verandah, how we lazed with chai,
sipping its ginger, black-pepper and gud slowly.
How we told each other all our secrets,
did we keep anything from each other?
Even after we married, we still tried
to meet each other; Rita, it's been
more than forty years of our friendship.

Now we're far
but Facebook and Whatsapp
do the trick. The only difference is,
then we were single, me and you,
now each of us has at least one bahu.

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