Visa interview over, and feels like its going to rain. Overcast skies tell me it will pour. Seems a shame to remain indoors. I want to share the exuberance I am feeling with anyone and everyone.
But strangely enough I am also experiencing something deeply contradictory. I don’t feel like having anyone around. I feel like being alone. Then it hits me. I want to see people and things but on my own terms. And I want to do it now.
I start up old faithful. Ready to get soaked once the heavens open up. I set out on the route to Madh Island. I haven’t been there in years. Certainly never on my bike. So I weave in and around the traffic till In-orbit mall, where that blessed mind-space road has been built and speed along it. I beam as I see the speedometer push 70 then 80 and then a sharp decrease as the speed bumps take over. No matter, they have saved my life once so I am grateful to whoever put them there.
I pull into Marve road and let my mind track back to the time when I used to live close by. The road has not changed one bit. I recall the times my Dad used to take me on long drives along this stretch when I was a kid on his old faithful – the 1991 Kinetic Honda which now only responds to his touch. I look out for the school where I gave my 10th standard board exams. The unusual sight of a Hindu Crematorium, a Muslim burial ground and a Christian Cemetery reminds me of how I used to shut my eyes tightly even during the day as we whizzed past. I look out for the hard-to-see turn which my father would take while dropping me off at swimming class. Also that stretch of road which precedes INS Hamla. There are boys fishing along the road, taking full advantage of the high tide.
I turn left at the junction which takes me towards Aksa and Erangal beaches. Past the posh Retreat Hotel. I have always wanted to stay there for a couple of days. I see the remains of Amrut Bagh, a small amusement park which was the site of our senior kg picnic. It has been several years since anyone has stepped inside though.
I ease off the throttle and take in all these sights. Remnants of my school days. I enter a small fishing village. The place stinks of fish, but I don’t mind, as a fishing village rightly should smell of fish. The roads continues. But the weather is playing games as there is not a single raindrop. In fact the sky is beginning to clear.
As the roads winds on, I see places where it is completely submerged under water which hasn’t drained since the last downpour 2 days ago. It is difficult for the Kolis who live here. A postal address in Malad but in reality, miles away from any help by the civic body. They are more concerned with sea links of course.
A short distance later the sea is right alongside the road. Madh Jetty approaches and in the distance I can see the tall buildings of Versova. Its a short ferry ride away but I decide to pass on that. Before I know it the road ends.
I just pause to take a look and I turn back. Back along the same road. I decide to stop at Aksa beach. Warning signs are posted everywhere, telling people not to swim there. Rightly so, since many greenhorns and experts have met their watery graves here. I walk along the clean beach and as I turn my gaze to the sea, the clouds part, giving way to bright, golden sunshine.
At that moment it strikes me. The restlessness I was feeling for so many days, it was just due to my reluctance in accepting the fact that my time in SPCE had ended and a new life in Atlanta beckoned . And I make my peace. Its a new life, but it certainly is not something bad. I feel brilliant.
Finally I make my way back to my bike and as I rev it up, I know that this is something else I must part with before I leave. I have not known my bike long enough, but I cannot leave it to gather dust. It would be like caging a bird. It is meant to wander, with or without me. I shake my head, wear my helmet and set off across the lonely road again.