Arayan looked at the old photograph again, like he had done a thousand times before, perhaps more, not less for sure. He turned it and ran his finger over the words, “Lime and lemony, 23rd Feb, 1983”. His father’s hand was always so neat and tidy. The snap showed him and Kitty sipping Limca, from the old Limca bottle, which people have forgotten about, its punch-line, as he remembered, for it wasn’t written anywhere on the snap, said Limca is veri veri lime and lemony.
His father had clicked that snap almost twenty years ago. His, Kitty’s and several other families were celebrating something big, yet the reason for that celebration had faded away from his memory. Though Kitty’s family consisted only of her father.
“Her mother had passed away a few day’s after Kinnari’s birth.” Arayan remembered his mom’s words.
He remembered the party almost as hardly as he remembered Kitty in yellow dress (or was it orange?) at the airport boarding a plane to US. He knew that it was a plane to US because she had returned from US lately, and had called him up from her house yesterday. She had to remind him twice that she was the same Kitty from whom he had snatched a balloon when he was five. There was a little get together happening, and an hour before Arayan was walking towards her house, he was contemplating on which gift he should buy for her, what would she like; what would she be like; or what he should wear.
Kitty was his best friend. She WAS. It was as if he underlined the “was” word mentally. He wasn’t in love with her, even today; he wasn’t in love with Kitty, yet there was a ton of anticipation pumping his heart. He hadn’t forgotten her; she hadn’t forgotten him either, for they had breathed their childhood together. It is so, isn’t it? Childhood friends share a bond unparalleled. He did not remember her face; he did not remember her five-year-old voice; all he remembered is how she had pushed him into a bush once and a bee had stung him on the thigh… or it was just a thorn.
Faded memories tend to make you believe in things you imagine at the time they get registered in your mind. Arayan might’ve imagined that it was a bee, yet it was naught but a thorn. The debate wasn’t going to end in his mind.
Kinnari Jaisawal had come back from the City of Angels, almost after two decades. Two decades is an entire lifespan for some unfortunate people, Arayan thought. “Damn, she must be hot,” Cain asked. Cain was a regular best friend, who took much pleasure in boasting about his charms over girls. But he often tucked his non-existent spotted tail deep between his legs whenever he encountered any member of the opposite sex. Arayan often wondered how he had landed up with a prim girl like Kavita. The bustle from Kitty’s house was more than evident, mostly fits of jumbled laughter, of kids and elderly men rumbled. But the high-pitched teenaged girl like voices and giggles were standing out. He could hear them as he approached it.
Through the window, when Arayan peeked inside, he saw a smiling crowd and happy lights blooming the entire august house.
He approached the door. And rang twice. A sweet girl of no more than twenty-five answered it. It makes them feel good about themselves, if a woman of twenty plus is referred as a girl, his mental note about that belief was registered. She asked for his name and about four moments later she went screaming for Kitty. It took an awfully long time for Kitty to arrive, only there were five Kitty’s. He had to identify the right one of them. Cain started shifting uneasily on the doorstep. He pointed at a random girl, because he liked the colour of lipstick that she was wearing. And a huge “wrong” roared around doubled by irritating bits of giggles.
“So you didn’t really recognize me, Arayan.” The girl who had answered the door, said.
“And you didn’t recognise me either, Kitty.” Cain said, for he had played the roll of Arayan at the doorstep.
Arayan was smiling at him from where he was standing, that is, away from the door, near the window. He stepped into the light that the door was spraying on the steps. Kitty laughed a laughter that was soon echoed among the bystanders. A deep hug followed, and Arayan was smiling continuously. Kitty had always been a child to him, and she hadn’t grown much. He greeted her pranks the eagerness of a young boy he once was.