One evening my brother and parents decided to go out to watch a movie at Amber-Oscar, a theatre close to Kripanagar, where we lived. They insisted I join them as they would be comimg back home late, and there wouldn't be anyone at home till they returned. I said I wanted to play outside with my colony- friends, and would take care of myself. Worry not. After all, I was bold, wasn't I? I was 10 years old then. They left. But, only after an hour of play, the mothers of my friends began calling them home to study for their upcoming exams. One by one my friends returned home. No choice. And, I was stranded alone in the middle of our playground with nobody to play with. I held my hands, looked around, and tears started streaming down my cheeks, sobbing.
Just then, aunty who lived on the second floor, came out in her balcony- probably to take a breather from her little brats moving around in the house. She saw me and shouted , "Hey Rahul, what are you standing there crying like a baby?"
Whatever little pride was left, evaporated. And I started howling. Aunty screamed at one of her brats in the house and told him to bring me up. Tears rolled down faster sensing some sympathy around.
As soon as I entered her house, she said , "Go wash your hands in the bathroom and sit till the dinner is served ."
Nothing else was asked nor was I allowed to disagree. She ordered one her sons, Tessio, to set a carrom table and to play with me till such time. Tessio gladly agreed.
"I am making some potato sandwich since I know you dont eat non-veg". Her loud voice echoed from the kitchen to the hall. I bit my lips. Oops! How did she know? I looked at Tessio but he was concentrating on the game as if it was a routine thing his mom did.
After some time Mario entered the scene. " Oye Rahulbhai, kya hua?"
"Kuch nahi hua," snapped aunty from the kitchen, "Now set the table. Dinner is ready."
Mario smiled obediently and left to set the dinner table.
Others joined. We sat, laughing, chatting, gesturing, and poking fun at each other. Though aunty sat straight-faced , I knew the source of the humour around the table.
Our colony watchman rang the bell. My parents were back home and were looking out for me. I looked at the clock hung on the wall. Almost 10. Late. I hadn't realized the time. I got up to leave, and before I could thank aunty, she waved her hand in dismissal and said , " Go home naughty boy. Whiling away your time doing nothing. Your parents are worried."
I smiled, got up and left.
Now, after all these years, her memory is still fresh in my mind as she watches from a different, higher balcony.