Getting drenched in the rain is definitely not my way of enjoying it. Standing by the window with a hot cup of coffee and watching the rain splashing down is. Yet, I couldn’t help getting drenched that day. It began as a small drizzle, and it picked up the moment I walked into Chandu’s cycle shop. Sheets of water engulfed the entire road like a thick curtain. I saw Chandu, the cycle mechanic, repairing someone else’s cycle. I was annoyed.
‘Chandu, I told you I needed my cycle urgently!’ I told him off.
‘Just a minute. I just need to fix this small puncture here. This boy needs to get to Matunga,’ Chandu replied. It was only then that I noticed the boy. He was almost my age, tall and well built. He was sitting on a bench and reading an Archie comic as if nothing else mattered. Hearing my voice, he looked up and said, ‘Care to sit here? Are you waiting for your cycle to be repaired, too?’
‘Yes, I brought it for repair this morning. The wall tube needs to be changed. I need to carry my stuff for my project day exhibition. You know, things like charts, models, etc. I can’t take the bus during the rush hours,’ I told him.
‘So, you study in Agnles?’ he asked me.
‘Yes. What about you? I haven’t seen you here before. Your face looks familiar, though.’
‘I study in Swami Vivekananda’s. My dad got transferred just a couple of months ago from Kolkata. We live in Matunga.’
Over the course of our conversation, I learned that he, too, was a twelfth-grader like me. Again, just like me, he was a science student.
Chandu, on the other hand, was busy with my cycle as it continued to rain cats and dogs. I was beginning to get restless. I had so much to do, and there I was, stuck at Chandu’s shop amidst dust and grease.
The boy got up, took a mouth organ out of his pocket, and began playing White Roses on it. Beautiful notes seemed to flow out of the instrument with ease. Soon, I completely forgot about the dust, oil, and filth. Even Chandu stopped for a minute before he resumed dusting the cycle parts in a cheerful motion.
‘Wow! You play so well!’ I applauded.
‘Thank you! I’m fond of music – any music. Hindustani, classical, film music… anything,’ said Ashwin, the boy whom I had just befriended.
‘I love music, too. But I can only play the guitar.’
‘Can you play classical music on it?’
‘Yes, but there are some limitations, for it is primarily meant for Western music.’
‘Will you play Some Enchanted Evening for me?’
Ashwin wiped the mouth organ with his kerchief and started playing. Melodious notes pervaded the air. All of us went quiet until the song came to an end.
‘Where did you learn music?’ I asked Ashwin.
‘Well, I think it’s in my blood. I learned the basics from my grandpa.’
‘Is it? Even my grandpa’s a music buff. He sings so well. You must come and meet him.’
‘How about now?’
My cycle was ready. Both of us rode together to my house.
My mom served us hot pakodas and Boost. We were having a good time in each other’s company.
‘Mom! Where’s Grandpa? I need him to meet my new friend. He’s come here to see Grand…’
Even before I could finish my sentence, Grandpa walked into the room. I introduced Ashwin to him. Grandpa inquired about Ashwin’s parents. It turned out that Ashwin’s Grandpa was an ardent music lover, too.
‘My grandpa worked mostly in the North and later retired as the Chief Conservator of Forests five years ago. Now he lives with us.’
‘What is your Dadaji‘s name?’ asked Grandpa.
‘P.V. Gopinath, by any chance?’ Grandpa asked with growing enthusiasm.
‘Yes,’ beamed Ashwin.
‘Oh! Ravi, don’t you remember the photo in my album? Didn’t I tell you about Gopi, my friend? How we used to sing together at the Cultural Club festivals! Ashwin! Can you bring Gopi here someday? Man, how did we lose contact? Tell him his bosom friend is still yearning to hear his Raag bhairav.’
Finally, I could tell why Ashwin’s face looked so familiar.
‘But Dadaji! He can’t walk on his own. He’s had some arthritis issues for a couple of years now,’ said Ashwin.
‘I’m so sorry to hear that. He used to be a promising tennis player back in the day,’ Grandpa remarked. There was a wistful look in his eyes. He had been transported into the past.
As for me, I had been cursing the rain a few hours ago. But now, I felt grateful that the heavens had opened. But for the rain, two old friends wouldn’t have known about each other, and I wouldn’t have made a new one!
As fond of writing a good story as he is of reading one, Pravin is one of the most promising writers at Ameya. He can be contacted at email@example.com.