I am playing on the slide, and it’s a sunny summer day. The metallic row is heated and it sticks to my thighs below the skirt and I have a bumpy landing. I go back and climb again. The slide has been my favorite, Oh ! but only after the swing, but I never got lucky and it would always stay occupied.
I am looking at the swing to get vacant and incessantly riding the slide. I ride down the slide and I see you walking from the park gate towards the swing. You are probably the same tall as me and you are wearing pink boy shorts with a white T-shirt which has pink half sleeves.
The girl riding the swing vacates, but I am looking at you, so I miss it. You run for the swing and I look at you running to get the swing. Your shoes rush and your hair runs behind, face lit up with excitement, smile infectious!
I just jump off the slide to compete and you hold one swing rail, and I the other.
We both are looking at each other. I see your soft little face and little hands holding it. I am thinking nothing, speaking nothing, What happens next? Do I fight? Do I ask him to let me ride it? I have never asked a boy before for a ride, I wonder how in school there is no boy and everyone I study with are all girls?
You leave the swing rail and you say
“Take the ride and call me up when done, I’ll be on slide.”
I look at you amazed.
Oh! He just gave me a swing? So easily? How come I never thought about giving the swing to him?
“My name is Vatsal” I look back at you climbing the slide while sitting on the swing.
I swing on the swing and it makes a squeaky noise. Today for the first time, I am not high on swing’s speed but on Vatsal. I think I fell in love with you that day. That extraordinary sweet gesture, when the kids won’t leave the dearest things from their hands, but you did.
I ride and I keep looking at the little hands, riding the slide, that pink T-shirt sleeves. I feel the air, going up and down the swing, and my eyes are on you, Vatsal. What a beautiful name!
After riding swing to my heart’s extent I shout
“Vatsal, your turn!” and I see your face gleaming with joy, my little skirt rides with me, and I handover the swing to Vatsal.
“Thank you” I say, “My name is Bhaumi.”
You smile and say “What is the spelling?”
“B H A U M I.. bhaumi” you listen and are riding slowly.
“What does it mean?” you are curious looking at me standing in front of your swing!
I shrug off my shoulders and wave you goodbye. You wave me back and I go back to my grandmother to ask what does Bhaumi means?
I rush and it’s the first day of the long two months of summer vacation at grandma’s. I ask my grandma why there are only girls in my school, no boys? She says because it’s a girl-only school. I understand. I ask what does my name means. She says it’s the name of Lord Ram’s wife Goddess Sita.
I am so excited to have collected all the answers, and I can’t wait for the next day, for the sun to go down and make my visit to the park to see Vatsal. I hang on the house main door, waiting for the sunlight to call the evening, looking at the park’s boundary waiting to go inside not to ride the swing but to meet Vatsal today and tell him, I am Goddess Sita.
I look on the road at passing vehicles, children riding the bicycles and I see Vatsal riding towards my Granny’s house. You wave at me and shout
“Bhaumiiii!” You are so excited.
I wave you half hung on the main gate of the grandma’s house with my little feet entangled in the bars of the door and you bring your bicycle to the front porch. I climb down from being a little monkey and you say
“You don’t live here!”
I nod my head, and say “It’s my grandma’s house!”
“Oh come on let’s go to the park.” I see your little hands calling me towards you.
I open the door and I walk with you, you are wearing orange shorts and a white t-shirt with an orange collar. You don’t ride your bicycle but instead, walk and in the next lane of the street, is your house, you leave the bicycle and we are headed towards the park.
I read the address plate on which there is a beautiful marble stone with your name written over it
D-149, Dadabari Extension, Kota”
We both played that evening, and you listen to me cheerfully when I tell you my name means Sita, and in the one week to follow I made a new friend.
We would swing daily, made mudpies together, we collected more children to play and we made a huge group, we would climb the walls, play balls, run, rush, laugh, giggle, hide, be statued, be injured, we were all sweaty, dusty, happy, danced and what not. I felt alive playing with you. I learned new words, new games, new ways, new things, we watched sunsets together, we saw rain, we would take dibs on the swing, we would ride together, we would buy candies together and I listened to your school stories and tell you mine. I rode your bicycle and you teased me.
I was just a kid and so in love with you Vatsal. I wish I knew it then, those were the happiest memories.
I waited for the evening like a love-struck kid until the 27th day you have to visit your grandma’s and you would be long gone to Bombay, you say she is not well and I feel sad, we are sitting on the long park wall, with our feet in the air above the ground looking at the sunset.
“When will you be back?” I ask
–“Not until school reopens?”
“When will they open?”
“When will you leave?”
“So you won’t come to play tomorrow?”
–“I will, if Mumma allows.”
“I like your Mumma. She never scolds you even if it becomes dark and we are still playing.”
–“I like her too.”
“Why does my Mum scolds me?”
–“I don’t know.”
“What happened to your granny?”
–“She is sick, I miss her.”
“Why do you miss her?”
–“She loves me.”
and at that moment I thought of saying, I think I also love you, but what lies in a kid’s heart. I was extremely sad, my evening buddy going away, and this is probably the last meeting we are having since I will be gone by the time you will be back
-“When are you leaving for your home?”
“In two weeks.”
-“So this is it.”
I look at you, you hold my hand and we jump off the wall, jerking both my knees. That microsecond of a jump, my heart skipped a beat and we landed on the road. You wave me goodbye and I wave you back, I walk sadly towards the granny’s home. I watch you go, playing and dancing, running back to your home. You are happy, and here I am sad. I go inside and watch shitty cartoons that evening. These past days, I have forgotten to watch TV, and cartoons don’t interest me anymore.
The next day I hope I see you, but you don’t come to the park. I play alone, swinging on the favorite swing. Days pass and every new kid I meet, I play but I miss you all the time.
2 weeks pass by the slowest ever and finally, the day comes to return, the end of the beautiful summer vacations, hoping for the next year to see you. I visit the park in the late evening, and the dusky blue sky looks a little sad without you. I swing one last time that year, the year I met you and I fly away, back to my school, to meet you again, to fall in love, to create more memories, to be something more.
TO BE CONTINUED