Nikita, 30, is a graphic designer from Delhi.
It was the first day after our Prime Minister announced a complete lockdown for 21 days. Early March - beautiful weather, light breeze flowing, spring season. Everyone was working from home. So I decided to take my laptop to the terrace and work. As I kept my stuff on a chair and table and checked for internet connectivity, I saw someone standing on the terrace of the house in front of me. He was waving to me.
It was Sagar! My heart skipped a beat. After all he was my neighbour and childhood crush.
‘How are you, Nikita? Long time!’ he asked. We both exchanged pleasantries. He said he too was working from home, just like me. I asked him about his work. He too showed interest in what field I was working in. After a few more words, we both went to work on our laptops.
However, my mind was elsewhere. All the memories came flooding back to me.
Badminton and Aahat
Sagar – the name was so important to me in my childhood. He lived right across my house and was two years elder to me. We were in different schools. I must have been in class 6 or 7. The pre-teen years! After coming back from our schools, we used to play outside our house with other kids.
I used to feel so happy when he would join my team and we both played badminton together on the streets. I was always so protective about him being in my team that I secretly used to wish so every single day.
Playing with him meant so much to me that I used to finish my dinner early so that we both could meet outside our homes. That was the time when our television was not flooded with multiple channels. We were not spoilt for choices and most kids in the 90s watched the same series.
We used to spend hours discussing horror shows like ‘Aahat’ and what would happen next in it and who would be killed next. How can I forget Shaktimaan? We both used to watch this show that had an Indian superhero.
Touching my feet
His elder sister - Divya didi was a good friend of mine too. I used to go to his house to meet Divya didi and also secretly see him. How can I forget the Ashtami pooja when I was a kanjak and his mother used to invite me to her house.
Though I wasn’t very fond of religious ceremonies but only for him I would attend the one in his house. There was just one motive behind it - he would wash my feet and touch them after the pooja ( just like he touched every other kanjak’s feet), tie a red thread on my wrist. That was it! Finding happiness in small gestures.
Did I tell anyone that I liked him? No, never. It was all in my head. In fact, we drifted apart and hardly saw each other after class 12. He went to pursue education in some other college and I too became busy in my studies. We hardly saw each other. Life got busier.
Though I once stalked him on Facebook, but never sent a friend request to him. Divya didi is still on my friend list!
So close, yet...
Years passed and then came the news that he is getting married! I was actually excited to attend his wedding. It was fun – a marriage in my neighbourhood of a guy I once had a crush on. Now he has a five-year-old son, Vian. I often see him playing with Vian too! I wonder what will his son call me - bua?! Hell no!
The day when we all had to come out and clap together for our doctors, nurses, community helpers etc, for their service during the Covid-19 pandemic, I too was in my balcony with my family at 5 PM. That was the day when I interacted with my neighbours after so many years. It was not just true for me but for everyone in my neighbourhood. We all got so busy in our lives that we hardly see each other.
I realised that we all live so close to each other, yet we are all so busy that we hardly get time to talk to anyone. But that day was different. Everyone was excited to see each other standing in the balconies. All aunties, uncles, kids - we all waved to each other.
Lockdown ke bahane he sahi, it felt nice to reconnect with everyone that day, including Sagar! Both of us regularly say hi to each other - on the terrace, before we make ourselves busy with our works.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.