Yashoda was a girl in my neighbourhood. She was all of nineteen, beautiful, her skin tanslucent like pearls, smiling expressive eyes, a royal nose with a shining stone at the tip. She had long beautiful tresses. Whenever I think of her its her laughter that rings in my ears. Its been more than thirty years, yet her picture lies stamped in my memory .
Kitty and me, thats my friend-we were two peas in a pod, there was/is one more pea to this pod, who now lives in Kochi. ( If I miss her out here, she will murder me) so- kitty and me we would run to Yashoda as soon as we gobbled up our lunch after school. I was not more than eleven then. Yashoda would be waiting for us after an early lunch and siesta. As soon as she saw us she would get her magazine out while we waited like good children, squatting on the mat she laid out for us. The next hour or so we would be lost in Yashoda's stories. The hero's and heroine's of her stories became part of our lives.
Sometimes, eyes wistful, her stories would stray to her village, some where far away in Karnataka, where her mom and siblings lived. Then, suddenly she would make us listen to her heart beating, which was like a wild horse galloping . Amused at our shocked faces she would laugh out loud- her head thrown back, revealing her thin graceful neck. She said she had a hole in her heart and she had come to her father in the city to get herself treated. That was why she had extremely thin arms and body.
One evening, while we played in the courtyard, I heard a huge commotion in front of her house. Someone shouted out to me, 'somethings happened to your friend'. I went numb, my thoughts , my body, I remember sitting outside her house staring into oblivion. I could hear Kitty sobbing out loud loudly, her mom trying to pacify her.There were no tears from me, I had no wish to go see her. I dont remember how long I sat there. Slowly my cells began working again and from some place deep inside me I heard a voice say 'so - its not just my dad, others die too'.
I still cant fathom my reaction then, I would like to believe it was my natural defence mechanism taking over to protect me from the pain. She lives in my thoughts, her smile, her laugh all intact.