- Akshat Khare
Whenever Kishore wanted to visit the memories of the old days – He’d pull out his Blue
Lambretta and be out on the streets of Udaipur. The blue of his scooter and the blue of the
lakes dragged him back into the memories of his youth.
But the Lambretta had broken down now. His son had managed to get him a new scooter. But it wasn’t the same. The scooter was too light. It wasn’t being weighed down by the decades of memories that the Lambretta carried. The Lambretta had character, it sputtered, it growled, it roared, it sighed, and it looked out at the night longingly with its yellow little light. The new scooter was clean and crisp and started without a hitch. The light was sharp and mechanical, designed to fulfil its purpose that was to take people to their destination – from one end to another.
The Lambretta was the journey.
It was the thousand Sunday rides that Kishore and his wife had made to the lakes over decades – from the early days of their marriage to the birth of their sons to old age and then to his loneliness when she had passed away. It was the thousand picnics – the uncountable late night ice cream runs while their sons were sleeping inside – it was the story of their lives on two wheels and some metal.
Kishore felt lost without his pillion rider. There was nothing that could be done. Her
paperbacks were still there on the shelves. He didn’t dare disturb them. He had considered
reading some to pass the time, but a part of him knew that they were hers and he didn’t have a right to them just because she wasn’t here anymore.
His sons were both in different cities and one of them was going to leave the country
sometime next year. They had their own lives to tend to – his grandkids were growing up and
he couldn’t blame his sons for not moving back to the city. It wasn’t a metropolis he lived in.
It was a quiet town. Away from the breakneck rush of modern life – a city cosmopolitans
only remembered when they needed a quick getaway from the Big Cities or when they
needed a fort for their destination weddings.
Kishore’s only consolation – His Lambretta had broken down, and all he had was a modern
‘scooty’ that didn’t understand him and who he couldn’t understand either. He tried to
communicate with it, tried to coax the vehicle to respond to him the same way the Lambretta
had, but the stubborn thing refused to be anything other than what it was. It was a scooty and it wouldn’t behave like a scooter. Kishore didn’t begrudge the vehicle its refusal to change. He too was a stubborn old goat, and he more than anyone else appreciated that we can’t be anything else than who we are.
In the city of lakes – in the oasis of his being – with water there in front of him – all he could
see was sand; the endless grains of the Thar stretching out to the end of time – a grain for
every human sin. There were things that he had wanted to do as a young man, but all of those wants and desires had been lost to time. He had settled in into the bliss of the everyday. Surrounded by the same people, the same walls and the same things and events and objects inside them. He smiled; the growing weight of his years had turned him into a softer man.
Often he caught himself thinking things that he would have scoffed at when he was young.
All objects have a history and all of them have a memory. What would they say to him if they
could speak. The walls of his house were drowning in her memory. He spent his days looking
at the paint and the plaster leave the wall and gather in small damp clumps on the ground.
The monotony of his life was all he had now to fill the trickling hours of his waning life.
She wasn’t going to return. Neither were his sons. Nor his Lambretta.
Kishore looked at the things in his drawing-room and felt stifled by them. He got to his feet
and walked out to his porch. The air was heavy with the smell of the ground after it has had
some water to drink. The wispy clouds were travelling east post haste – dragging the stars
with them. The night waited out there, he realised. But he had no pillion rider to drag him out into the city. No hand to pull on his and push him out into the world. She wasn’t here. Only his memories were. And he felt that he could not do her justice with his remembrances alone.
Every moment of remembering was removed once from the original moment. And in
remembering he had already woven in the act of remembering into the memory. The more
often he thought about her, the more he blurred her out with his own mind.
Udaipur. Udaipur. Udaipur. The sapphire of the desert. His city. Their city. The canvas of his
entire life lying open in front him. The fading paint of his memories. The aging varnish that
was yellowing him out and blurring out the images of his life. He had to leave. There was no
He would set out for the Deccan or maybe for the Himalayas. It didn’t matter where – any
place without the pain of forgetting would do. He turned to look at his house. He didn’t want
to be here for one moment more. Kishore looked at the new scooter and quietly resolved to
go through with it. To leave it all behind. He put on his helmet and settled into the grooves of the new vehicle. The scooty whirred to life as he pressed the ignition – Kishore looked back at his house one last time before disappearing into the night.