Diary of a Little Woman | A pocketful of soulmates

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Young Nila learns that you can find traces of romance in the oddest of places, no matter how old or cold they may be, so long as you have a kindred spirit by your side.

Even the lonely earth has a satellite, its kindred spirit, to keep it eternal company.

December 13

 

Dear Diary,

 

Guess where I went today!

Clue: The people who visit here feel sad. The people who live here don’t know where they are. 6 feet below and crosses above.

 

You are smart, Diary, so I’m assuming you guessed correctly. Yes! We went to a Cemetery! (Of sorts.) With Sandy. Such odd places this boy takes me to. But oh, how beautiful it was.

 

Diary, do you believe in soulmates? I don’t. It’s a sad concept, having just one other soul in the world who truly understands you. I am reading Anne of Green Gables (got prize for Essay competition). Anne is a young orphan who goes to live with a brother-sister in a village. The sister is kinda grumpy but the brother is a really sweet old man. Anne calls him a kindred spirit. Isn’t that such a lovely idea — kindred spirit.

 

We had a movie marathon at Poo’s place last Sunday. One of the movies was a rom-com (I’m not liking Poo’s newfound movie taste). Full movie they kept talking about soulmate and true love and lalala. That got me thinking, is Sandy my true love?

 

Mmm. No. How can you have just one true love? My pocket is FILLED with soulmates. That’s why Anne’s theory makes more sense. The Universe is full of kindred spirits like Najju Paati and Poonguzhali Akka and Ammu (just cos she’s a dog doesn’t mean we can’t be kindreds). Even you’re my kindred, Dear Diary. Sometimes when Amma and Appa fight over stupid things, Shanky and I roll eyes at each other and in that moment it feels like even he is a kindred spirit.

 

But, but, but. Sandy is definitely a VERY VERY special kind of kindred.

Yesterday, I had gone to his place for Science Group Study. Though you can’t really call it a group if it’s just two people and you can’t really call it study if it ends up with a visit to a cemetery. I suppose we were studying death (which is kinda scientific) with a group of dead bodies. So in theory, I won’t be lying to Amma when I say the group study went off well.

 

And oh boy, did it go off well!

Before all this, I must tell you Diary, Sandy’s parents are even cooler than him. Just two levels less cool than Najju Paati and one level less than Poonguzhali Akka. After coming across all kinds of nonsense grown-ups, it’s so good to meet such people. I guess that’s why Sandy is this way — runs in his family. The minute we entered, Aunty gave me a tight hug and said, “Finally we meet the famous Nila”. I was shocked. I didn’t know I was famous.” She immediately rushed into the kitchen to make us pineapple magic (that’s pineapple shake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and bits of badam floating about).

 

Good Boy Sandy was helping Amma so I sat in the hall, looked at all their family photos hanging on the wall (didn’t know Sandy wore braces as a kid). Then from the bookshelf I picked out ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and was reading from random page. Govi Uncle taught me this trick. That if you want to decide whether you’ll like the book or not, you just have to read one page at random. If you like it, then pick up the book — cos you’ll most definitely enjoy the rest of it.

 

I was halfway through the page when someone tapped on my shoulder. It was Uncle. He looked big and scary with his broad chest, dark eyes and bushy mustache. But he smiled and my heart melted. He has DIMPLES! Imagine how cute it’d be if a giant has dimples — that’s how Uncle looks. He patted my head, shook hands (warm handshake), and winked at Sandy who had just walked in. “Good choice, my dear boy,” he said and broke into a loud guffaw like Sher Khan. Sandy turned tomato. Ha! Finally for the first time ever I got to see a blushing Sandy.

 

After Pineapple Magic and some chitchat where Uncle revealed some of Sandy’s deep, dark childhood secrets and Aunty poked fun at how Uncle and Sandy fight over everything like kids. Yes, I think Uncle doubles up as a sibling to Sandy since he’s an only child. It seems they fight over everything right from stuff like who gets the last slice of pizza or whose turn it is to do dishes, to who is better at Boggle and who Aunty loves more. Strange but cute.

 

Then out we went. At first Sandy refused to tell me where we were going. After walking for almost 20 minutes on the main road, we entered a quiet-ish lane. “Time for blindfold,” he said. I was about to protest but then realised that blindfold means he’ll have to hold my hands and lead. So I pretended to huff and puff but happily accepted the blindfold. I’m sure he also thought up the blindfold bit just for this reason.

 

And then we walked. Side by side. I like how we hold hands, Diary. Not tight, not loose, not clammy, not too soft also. Just the perfect hold. The road was deserted, only a few mynahs, sunbirds and seven sisters singing their songs. Five minutes later, Sandy led me up a flight of stairs and untied my blindfold. WOW! Diary, I don’t know how such a place exists in this city.

 

Armenian Church is more than 200 years old. It’s painted in a serene shade of white and is built on the grave of over 400 Armenians who once lived in the city. Now they are all gone. But the church remains. They hold mass only once a year. There’s just one Anna who takes care of the entire church. I asked Anna why it’s so empty, don’t they have visitors? He looked out at the road, turned back, smiled sadly and said “The world has changed, my little girl. I have a handful of regular visitors like your friend Sandy. But most of the city prefers spending time at these fancy malls and... Oh well!” I looked outside the gate. Two annas were sitting on the pavement, hunched over a phone.

 

Inside the church, I sat on a wooden bench in the last row. It was my first time in a church. In movies I have seen people kneel down and chant hymns. But I don’t know any hymns and I didn’t feel like kneeling down anyway. So I just sat there looking at the ancient, brown benches, the small painting of Jesus, the flower vase with its plastic flowers, the silence. Sandy walked in and sat next to me. We stayed there silently next to each other for God knows how long. Finally, at the same time, we both got up and walked out. He guided me towards the back. The ground was covered in a shower of yellowish-white frangipanis. I smiled at him, picked a few flowers, and walked into the church. Inside, Sandy was placing a few flowers on the table next to the vase.

It was in that moment that I realised how kindred we are.

 

Diary, this Sandy boy is special.

 

After church, we returned home, pretended to study, ended up talking about ghosts, ate some vada pav (Aunty’s special recipe with paneer), had another large tumbler of Pineapple Magic and set out for home. Chandu Anna was supposed to come by five but his auto broke down so Sandy and I were waiting on the steps downstairs for almost 20 minutes. After a few minutes of silent handholding, he told me to close my eyes. I hesitated, because I didn’t want him to kiss me (not with his parents less than 30 metres away). But he insisted. So I closed. Then he pulled out my arm and started tracing letters on it.

 

At first I thought it was random doodles but as his fingers continued dancing on my arm, my smile grew wider than humanly possible. I realised what he was writing.

‘Nila. I love you.’

 

I opened my eyes. His smile was as wide as mine.

 

We heard Chandu Anna honking from the distance. I gave him a bone-crushing hug, kissed his right cheek, and quickly went runnning down the street. It was already quite dark. But when I turned around, I could see a set of white teeth dazzling from his end.

 

A happy day, Diary. A fantabulously happy day.

 

Yours kindredly,

Nila

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