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Aaditya and Me by Aditya Joshi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License

Friday, January 18, 2008

In the Neighbourhood - SERIES 02

Shyaam walked to the bus stop. An autorickshaw would wait for him there. That one had not come yet. He waited.

Shyaam was a tenth standard student. Puberty made its presence felt with strands of hair between his lips and nose. He was standing at the bus stop with his shoulders bearing the weight of his blue-coloured bag. It was an almost old bag - the water bottle peeped out of the small opening the bag had.

Shyaam was looking around. A soft drink truck passed by. It was followed by many autorickshaws trying to make way through the mess. It was certainly a busy road. And Shyaam loved to watch the vehicles making their way through each other. He wondered why things would get so messy - when they could've been so easy.

Shyaam felt a lot for the traffic congestion problem. That's because he had to take an autorickshaw every day. And the autorickshaw would get stuck in a traffic jam and it would take him twenty five minutes - he could cover that distance in ten by foot.

The autorickshaw that he had hired would be paid on a monthly basis. His mother made sure that Shyaam, Jojo as she called her fondly, would not have trouble getting to his school.

But today, it seemed like it would get really late. Shyaam opened his book - a neat notebook in a brown-paper cover and began to read the first page. 'History Chapter 1 - First World War'. He had gone past the fourth question that he heard the autorickshaw honk.

He saw Sawantkaka - the autorickshaw driver who would drive him to and back from school.

"I am sorry Shyaam, I was late!", Sawantkaka apologized.

"No that's ok Kaka.. let's go fast! I hope the traffic is low today!"

"Don't worry - we'll reach on time!... When are your prelim exams?" Sawantkaka always liked to keep himself updated about Shyaam's activities.

"Class prelims starting from next week, school prelims in February!"
"Good! I hope you are studying well... you must get very good marks ok!"
"Yes Kaka..."

The autorickshaw reached Shyaam's school. It was a convent school with a Victorianesque architecture. Shyaam hurried out of the autorickshaw.

"Bye!" Sawantkaka shouted.

Shyaam just waved back in return.

"I'll be here at 5:30 sharp. Don't leave till I come!"

"Yes kaka.." Shyaam said, nodding his head.

Sawantkaka vroomed his vehicle out of there.

Meanwhile, Anushka had reached her college in Andheri. She was an Arts student at one of the topmost colleges of Mumbai. And she was proud of it. Despite the extremely extra-ordinary score she had, Anushka had opted for Arts. That was something which had her parents facing the music from a lot of relatives - "You are spoiling the child's career", "She can't think, but atleast you can!" Anushka had always wanted to prove them wrong.

And she had been doing it - she was the Arts stream topper of her college in the twelfth standard. She was very happy that she was an object of pride for her parents.

Anushka entered her college. "Anu....", Sonya came and hugged her. Sonya lived in a plush apartment in Bandra - and though her birth certificate said 'Sonia', she preferred calling herself 'Sonya'! It was 'hep' and happening you see!

"Hi Sonya.. how are you..."
"I'm good babes.. nice top haan.. what brand?"
"Shoppers stop"
"Aah.. you get that in your Dadar right?"
"Hullo.. what's 'your dadar'.."
"Hehe... I meant Dadar..."
"I know what you meant, Sonya! Anyways, I am getting late for the lecture. Aren't you coming?"

"Oh no, Rocky is coming in some time!" Rocky - Anushka remembered - was Sonya's boyfriend. And Anushka had lost count of the number of boyfriend's Sonya had had in the last one year. Anushka never liked this guy - burly biceps, designer clothes, posh vehicles - and a dead expression on the face. That was the only reason Anushka thanked God she wasn't Sonya.

But for many other reasons, she wanted to be Sonya. They were pals - but Anushka was in awe of Sonya. Sonya got to dress up in the best of the lot, drove to college and on way back, Sonya's parents were settled abroad. And Sonya had four servants to look after her - right from waking her up to putting her to bed. Anushka always wished she were born as Sonya...

Anushka walked towards the classroom. She met few other classmates and exchanged the typical 'hi's..

Anushka entered the classroom. She saw him on the second bench. He was wearing a cream coloured body-hugging t-shirt today. He wore a flashy wrist-watch and an equally flashy wristband. He looked at her. Smiled.

Her face shone into a smile.

"Hi Rajas..", she blurted out.

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