My Encounter With ‘This Person’

“The rain stops and my friend departs. I wish he had stayed, I wish the rain had not stopped so soon.”       -Ruskin Bond.

It was just another day when I met ‘this person’. He came to JNU to play football with my friends. A brief interaction, some words exchanged over alcohol and dinner, and I saw him bargain extensively with the autowallah, late at night. That’s not an unusual thing, but the way he did it was unusual, indeed.

My second meeting with him was in the train, when we were going to Shimla. Me and my friend did all the planning, and ‘this person’, being a flatmate of my friend, dropped into the plan.
I never knew he would become such a good friend by the next morning, when we both sat on the floor of the First Class Compartment of the toy train (on our way to Shimla from Kalka), and giggled while taking stupid selfies.
He annoyed me with is on and off ‘extremist’ comments, and beyond-my-understanding level of humor!
And by the time we returned to Delhi, ‘this person’ had become a good friend.
We met a few more times at their place to celebrate birthdays, and on other occasions when I took all of them out for Dilli Darshan. Every time, he would bargain with the autowallahs and the shopkeepers in the most hysterical manner that one can ever imagine!
At the counter of Dilli Haat, where the ticket price for foreigners is more than that of Indians, he confidently walked up to say, “Bhaiyya, I’m from Ra(kha)asthan” (read: Rajasthan) in a Spanish accent!
As he talked to a shawl seller, he introduced himself as a Kashmiri (of course, the person on the other side of the table wasn’t convinced) and continued bargaining for a Pashmina that he wanted to buy!
Two months just flew by, since I had met ‘this person’, and even before I could know him well, his time to depart arrived.
I traveled to the hills again with him, this time just the two of us, what he said to be his “first and only trip with an Indian girl”.
Walking through the pine forests of Manali, it seemed that I was meeting a new Alvaro, someone whom I didn’t try to explore earlier, in the last two months – a person with deeper thoughts, who hibernates putting a facade of a prankster.
I poked him for every English word that he pronounced incorrectly, and he took it in the most sporting manner like anyone would do! Probably even I would have got irritated if someone poked me so much, but ‘this person’ was so keen on learning. May be that’s what even made me listen to the Spanish verses that he read out – as he knew I could barely understand, he made it a point to explain it to me, with his broken English.
Sitting at a cafe next to the Beas, we enjoyed the rumbling of the river, when he told me how India has changed him as a person…
“My momma had sent baby Alvaro to India, and now she’ll have Alvaro, The Man, back from India as a present”, he said, and there was intense joy in his eyes.
He told me about his experiences in Karnataka, where Catholic priests made him buy alcohol for them, and in Surat, where he rescued missing children from railway stations, and in Gurgaon, where he works for Mera Parivar. As he was telling me about his story, I felt like he knows India more than many of us do.
“I never knew you can be so serious, Alvaro”, I told him, and he laughed saying, “Oh it’s not me, it’s the beer!”
Walking down the deserted road at midnight in an unknown place, when he said,”Don’t worry Riyanka, no one will harm you,” I realized all over again that I’ll miss him once he leaves, and there’s an uncertainty of meeting him ever again.
Saying goodbye is perhaps the most difficult task for me, and rain somehow adds more melancholy to the entire thing. Before we left Manali, there was a heavy downpour…
…and after we reached Delhi, before rushing back to the cacophony of our daily lives, ‘this person’ hugged me and said, “I don’t know if I can meet you before I leave for Spain, but you can come to Madrid and stay with my family.”
Sometimes, words are enough, and you don’t need the rains.
Sometimes, words are enough to get you drenched.
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