We remember in bits and pieces and the rest we weave in our minds like an eight legged garden spider and that might be the very reason our memories are such beautiful webs, fragile and vague and yet never let go what it catches.
Swapna Mashi had the most beautiful pair of eyes.
‘Didi, you have eyes like Hema Malini!’, even the guava seller complemented her when she used to come to pick me up after the dispersal of my school. The early monsoon guavas were lush green and her honeyed sweet smile-backs most of the time were rewarded with a rebate of a rupee or two. She knew how to smile!
She knew when to smile!
Poor guava seller. I used to pity him. But mostly because I envied her, if not rare, quite often. Even in grade 5, girls have hidden heart tucked somewhere deep inside their bodies. That heart bled, even before our monthly stains had started embarrassing us in public or in private. That heart bled for no reason at all!!
‘Swapna Mashi, your eyes are way too big, don’t you think?’
The sharp red-chilly-salt complemented the sweetness of the guavas, sliced and wrapped in newspaper.
Swapna Mashi, like many gorgeous women, confidant and careless, used to wink at this not-so-innocent ask of her Didi’s young brat and said sweetly, ‘Oh yes they are!! Because I don’t want to miss out anything!’
Grade 5 sometimes had limited understandings. But they know when to stop questioning!
I knew when not to ask further!
I grew up. My eyes grew along with me and they were alright. Every time I used to put kohl, if not always, but often I looked back at the pair reflecting on the mirror, and asked quietly, “Swapna Mashi had the most beautiful pair of eyes! Wonder what more she saw than me.”
I have forgotten her face! Her address as well.
But I have remembered her eyes! I will remember them!
(Artwork: Piu Mahapatra)
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