It was day two of my new job today. After a day of classroom discussion and planning meetings, I was finally walking back home from a busy day. A busy day. I have not experienced such a thing in the last two years because I have only spent time doing the things I want to do. It felt good to have a busy day. I was walking down the road I have walked on for as long as I can remember. Past the modern school that has transformed from a small pathshala in to a grand establishment in the span of my lifetime. The Delhi winter is just peeking around the corner. The evening sun was large and the very hint of a nip in the air gave me that feeling of renewal that only a change of season can bring.
I heard from behind me someone calling out.
I looked back to see a richshaw pull up from behind and stop by my side. It was a familiar face. I knew it right away. Especially the toothless grin. For as long as I can remember, he had never had any front teeth and always smiled with only his canines making him look silly. He had less hair and it was grayer.
“Remember?” he beamed.
“Yes of course! Are you kidding?” I replied with excitement.
“Where were you all this time?” I asked.
He said he had gone to his village. I did not bother asking for how long he had been gone for because I honestly did not remember. He carried on reminiscing.
“The gentleman from number 7 flat. He also remembers me. I used to drop his kids to the bus stop when they were young. He asked me on baqr-eid whether I wanted some meat. I said Sir I am a loner. I won’t be able to cook it.”
He said this last with a shrug. I asked if things were all right in the village. I got the feeling maybe he needs some help but he seemed energetic and well so I did not want to offend him. He was smiling a lot. The same toothless grin but his eyes seemed to shine more from age.
“Well, now I’ll see you around I hope. I have to be going now.” I said.
“Where are you going? Study? Duty?” he said.
I said I was going to my work.
“Oh! You’ve become a professor!” he said.
“I’ve become a professor!” I echoed. I did not bother to add that it had only been two days. He went into a bit of a reverie. He said it was a thing of happiness that the kids he took to school in his rickshaw for years were now all doing well.
“Someone is a professor, someone is a doctor, someone a big man in the police. I’m very happy.” he said.
I realized I still don’t know his name. He offered to drop me if I was in a hurry but I declined.
“I’ll see you when I get back,” I said with genuine hope.