Between the Start and Now

Some of the roads we take 
Some untold ties we make
Take us to places we’ve never seen
To make us the ones we’ve never been. 

August.

Misty air. My alarm rings and I know I am a wee bit nervous, because its my first day at university after getting admitted. I am not exactly home alone, but still home alone. I know I cannot afford to be late. So I keep a buffer margin time of 30 minutes.

Just before breakfast, suddenly a tap explodes. Panic! I don’t know what to do? Shall I just let it be? Find the valve and close it, my mother says over the phone. Where is the valve? Even more importantly, what is the valve?

I know there’s a compartment right over the tiny library by the living room, so I open the   door to the compartment and start closing each one of the valves. Each time I turn one valve, I run down to check if the tap had stopped flowing.

First valve. Second Valve. Third Valve. Finally, the tap stops flowing. I look at my watch, my 30 minute buffer has already been blown! Panic Part Two. I hurriedly have breakfast and catch the first tempo that comes. I can’t be late! I can’t. But it seems like I was. Heavens!

I see a dusty road in front. I guess this must be the stop. I had never taken a tempo to university before today. I get down. Suddenly the view seems different from when I had seen it the last time. NO! THIS CAN’T BE! I could not have taken the wrong tempo. NOT NOW. Panic Part Two and Three Quarters! Thankfully I had just gotten down slightly, actually a lot earlier than my intended bus stop. Phew!

Finally, finally I get there. Not on time. But I get there. I know which valve to close and which stop to get down. The second one particularly, very important.

***

December.

The cold air hits my cheeks. My mother is slightly agitated that I have blown up the 15 minute time buffer all over again. Black robes everywhere. Everyone looks good, surprisingly everyone does in that black robe. May be we all just look funny in our oversized robes and that is why we look good. Or may be we’ve finally made it, and thats why we look good. Whatever be the reason, everyone looks good.

There’s a big commotion going on. Over a thousand students are graduating today. Phones on each hand. It’s a big day, no one wants to miss a single moment. It’s a big day.

And as the start would have some how foretold it, it took me a little longer than expected to reach the moment.

***

Faces that seemed strange 1095 days ago have filled my phones and I have filled theirs. Our caps are flying left and right. And words fall short to describe what came between the start and now. I would not dare call it the end, I’d just call it ‘Now’. The Start and Now.

Its like a jigsaw puzzle, it is almost impossible to predict the final outcome without having all the pieces placed. So, lets just keep on adding the pieces one after another.

I wish you luck, love and happiness my friends. When we meet again, it shall be a new space and a new time. And still it will be now.

The now that keeps on expanding. The now that never ends.

Everything between the Start and Now.

This journey’s gonna end someday
But you’ll find footsteps on every way
That lead you to me
Lead me to you
Lead us to the ones we used to be, 
Lead me to you
Lead you to me
Lead us to the ones we used to be. 


Photograph: Class of 2017, with many many people missing, in front of the main building of our Alma Mater. 

Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Four

Refresh your memory with Chapter One, Two and Three.

It had already been six months since the first time Meera came to realize that she was a witch. She missed home dearly, especially her sister. Hogwarts was sealed with magic so there was no way she could use muggle devises like smart phones. Thanks to her friends Neal and Benny, Meera seemed to be catching up with her classes. Professor Zuck and Rufus had also been giving extra lessons to help her.

An owl flew over to Meera’s table during breakfast.

‘It’s got a letter for you,’ Benny said casually.

‘I haven’t received a single letter since coming here,’ Meera exclaimed. Was it shock or happiness, no one could tell.

‘Then may be its time you do,’ added Neal, putting some tomatoes over his plate.

She detached the letter from the owl’s feet and opened it. It was from Mayna.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 1.00.44 PM

Signs, Meera thought. What kind of signs?

By the time Meera turned up, Benny was running.

‘Bye Meera, late for my extra class!’ she said waving.

Meera did not like how Mayna had behaved with her. She had not uttered a single word about magic, despite being a witch herself. Even when Zuck arrived to get Meera, Mayna refused to say anything that would clear her mind. And now she added the confusion by asking Meera to look out for signs.

Meera stood up and headed towards her dormitory. Mayna’s words troubled her. What was coming ahead? Could she avoid it? She was completely lost in her own world until, she knocked over someone.

‘Oh sorry!’ she said. Meera flushed. It was Li.

Meera had previously been able to thank Li for saving her from the rotten eggs, thanks to Benny’s constant encouragement. But this was not expected. Li’s bag was on the floor with his books spread out. Meera immediately picked them up and handed it over.

‘I’m really sorry,’ she said again.

‘Not a problem at all.’

Meera had already moved a few steps ahead when Li called out.

‘Eh, Meera!’ he said.

She did not know what to do. What did he want anyway?

‘Ah yes,’ she said turning back.

‘Ahh…school’s looking to form a Quidditch team. Professor Zuck told me that you’re quite good at flying. How about you give it a try?’

Meera stood there, frozen for a few seconds.

‘Ah…I’m…n-o-t sure if I can manage to fly.’

‘Really? Professor Zuck was really impressed.’

‘Really?’

Li nodded.

‘I’ll think about it then.’

‘If you’d like to try out, be there at the Quidditch ground tomorrow at 4.’

She nodded and walked out as quickly as she could. Why was Li asking her to play Quidditch, why? Is this a sign? She dissed the thought out of her head. She decided that Mayna was just playing games as always, even when she was not close by.

Meera put the letter under her pillow and carried her books. She could see the sky through one of the little windows beside her bed. The sky was clearer today. May be should could fly, she thought for a moment. After all she had managed to the very first time without much of a problem.

She hurried back to her class where she met Benny.

‘So, Li asked you to try out for the Quidditch team?’ she asked with a glare in her eyes.

How did she know, Meera thought.

‘Don’t be surprised,’ Benny added. ‘Anything that Li does is bound to become news, especially when it involves you. So are you going to go?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve never played Quidditch before.’

Continue reading “Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Four”

Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Three

Take a quick recap: Chapter One and Two.

Meera followed the Prefect to the Hufflepuff dormitory. The entrance to the dormitory was the same as the kitchen. Meera followed quietly trying not to signal a single sound of amazement.  When they reached the entrance with large barrels, the Prefect tapped the second barrel from the bottom four time in a distinct rhythm. Meera was told to memorize the rhythm which is the only way to enter the dormitory.

‘Tap—Tap-Tap———-Tap.’ This was presumably the rhythm of Helga Hufflepuff, the founder of the Hufflepuff house. The barrel opened revealing an entrance to the dormitory. Meera is amazed to see the room. It was cheerful as were the students already inside of it. The common room was decorated with colors of earth, and the house colors black and yellow. The honey colored wooden furnitures and the plants placed neatly on the walls, added to the ambience of the room.

Neal, the boy who Meera had met earlier was already sitting in one of the wooden chairs. He rose as he saw Meera arrive. There was a little girl with him, who seemed a lot younger than him.

‘Meera, meet my sister Benny,’ he said. Benny raised her hand to wave and said, ‘Hello’ in her meek little voice. They were to share the same dormitory.

Neal’s sister was starting her first year in Hogwarts and he was extremely happy that Benny had been sorted into Hufflepuff. He also told Meera that it was not necessary despite being family, that they should be sorted into the same house.

‘How do you come to Hogwarts then?’ he asked Meera.

‘To be honest, I do not know,’ Meera replied.

‘May be Meera’s a great witch…and so,’ Benny was quick to add. But she shyly turned away immediately.

Meera smiled. ‘Thanks,’ she said. May be Hogwarts wasn’t that odd after all.

Meera’s classes were to begin the next day. She was to start with the first years with a couple of extra subjects to be able to cover as much as possible. She looked at the heavy bag Zuck had bought for her. It was filled with books of all kinds. While the topics looked much different from what she had ever seen, the fact that she had to learn all of it made her realize that magic must be studied too. It wasn’t something that was passed down or given without effort.

Meera entered the first class. It was called Charms. A tiny little professor, who was named Zelda was already sitting. The students were ready to begin the class. Meera sat down besides Benny.

‘Wands out!’ Professor Zelda said sharply.

Meera searched her little bag for her wand. She remembered putting everything Benny had told her the night earlier. But she could not find her wand. How could she perform magic without it? She looked left and right. Everyone was ready. Meera felt ashamed for not knowing something so obvious.

‘I don’t have mine,’ she said meekly.

‘Magic without wands!’ yelled a girl from behind, giggling. She was Redna from Ravenclaw.

‘Silence!’ Professor Zelda said. ‘You will have to go and get your wand Meera.’

Continue reading “Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Three”

Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Two

Can’t recall the first chapter? Click here.

Meera was skeptic as ever. It was tearing her apart. She didn’t want to go, but Zuck’s words ringed in her ears. Your country’s magic council wants you to study magic at Hogwarts. She didn’t know why she needed to believe someone who had appeared out of thin air. But for some reason she felt it would be equal to betraying if she denied something she was chosen to do. To make things worse, Mayna kept shut. Even after many pleadings, she would not tell Meera more than what Zuck had told her.

It was the 14th day, the day of the no moon. Zuck could appear anytime and Meera would have to make a decision that would challenge everything she ever knew. She was nervous and scared.

Was she ever coming back if she left? Would she ever see her city and the familiar temples again? What if Zuck was a fraud? What if he had given Mayna some crazy medicine to get her to play along? What if he was blackmailing her?

Despite all these questions her suitcase was neatly packed and placed in the corner of her room. Meera knew that Mayna had been keeping a close watch on her as her older sister kept passing by her room every hour since dinner.

It was close to 10 o’ clock at night and there was no sign of Zuck. Meera had begun to think that perhaps it was all a joke after all as she laid over her bed. He wasn’t going to come. And she could place all her clothes back into her closet and sleep.

It was quarter past 11 and Meera had almost fallen asleep when a noise woke her up. She could see a gigantic face looking at her from above. In a flash she screamed and moved towards the edge of the bed. The window was wide open.

‘Got stuck in traffic!’ Zuck said floating in the air seated on his broom as he placed a big bag on the ground. ‘Had to visit Diagon Alley to get all your things for school Meera. Here’s your robe and your books.’

Meera was still by the edge of her bed. Zuck had come after all and now her heart was going to explode.

‘I see your suitcase is packed. So do you want to leave then?’ he asked. ‘But I suggest you change into your robes before heading out.’

Meera knew Mayna was across the door as it flung open.

‘Greetings Zuck!’ said Mayna.

‘Ah greetings to you too Mayna,’ he replied.

Meera could not digest the familiarity in their voices as they greeted each other. But that was less than important at the moment. Zuck looked at her waiting for an answer.

‘I will come,’ she said. Mayna smiled as if she had always known the outcome. Meera changed her clothes which was clearly big for her. Zuck looked sorry for the mismatch. But there was no time.

‘Mount your broom,’ Zuck said, ‘Locomotor!’ he yelled as he waved his wand and her suitcase and the bag he had bought started flying in the air. ‘You’ve never flown that long, but there’s no other way as of now to go to Hogwarts from here. So hold on tight.’

Meera mounted her broom and bid her farewell to her sister and they slowly started flying through the window. Mayna peeked out and yelled, ‘Take care of her Zuck!’ Zuck nodded as they disappeared.

Continue reading “Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter Two”

Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter One

A deck of cards was neatly placed on the table. The room was dark with vision only possible through the burning candles at the corners. A girl, who seemed to be 16 in age, picked up the cards and began shuffling the deck. She wore a pointed hat. Her name was Meera.

Meera careful spread out the cards like a fan over the table, and picked each card and arranged them in particular order. Her face looked miserable, as if something was not right. Somebody at a distance was shouting her name. The voice got louder and nearer, but Meera continued frowning over the sight of the cards.

‘I’m going to burn these down,’ somebody’s sore voice said as the room turned bright with the fluorescent bulbs.

Meera continued ignoring the threat. After placing the final card, a Queen of Spades, over a bunch of others,  she looked up at the invader of her room. It was her sister.

‘Mayna, I don’t want to be rude. But I’m working on something,’ Meera said.

Mayna looked at her younger sister with suspicion. Meera’s fascination with card tricks often shocked Mayna. They are not real, she ofter told her younger sister. But Meera continued to return to her dingy room, lit with only candles as she wore her fancy hat and shuffled the deck of cards, imagining a crowd of people watching her perform.

‘It’s past 12,’ Mayna argued. Meera continued looking carefully at the pattern of cards that had emerged in front of her.

‘And you haven’t had breakfast yet?’ she question looking up, finally gazing away from the table.

‘No. If I didn’t you wouldn’t.’

Meera removed her hat and sighed. The sisters left the room to have what they called breakfast, during middle of the day.

After reaching the kitchen upstairs, Mayna arranged a piece of roti and milk tea. Meera looked out of the window. A wooden monument stood across their house. The Red Durbar in red bricks. People were climbing the terrace of the monument which was a temple. It must be cleaning time of the year, she assumed at the sight.

‘A roti and biscuit for you, with black tea,’ Mayna said.

They munched on the slim food. The small house beside the Red Durbar seemed empty except for the two sisters. It was mid day and the hot wind of summer was still blowing at its best. The sound of the sisters chewing on their food continued for a few more minutes. Meera got up first and placed her plate and cup on the sink.

It was Saturday afternoon which meant that the sisters were due to clean the house as always. Meera insisted on cleaning up the kitchen and then the living room. Mayna had almost forgotten about their schedules. She moved out to clean the bedroom and the store.

Meera picked up a broom by the door and started sweeping the kitchen. After a full hour of scrubbing, washing and wiping, she could see the kitchen gleaming, now free of dust. Satisfaction swept over her.

She picked up the broom and placed it inside one of the cabinets. She firmly closed the doors and moved to the sink to wash her dirty hands. As she dried her hands and moved towards the door, a sudden noise stopped her.

The cabinet laid open, the broom had fallen off. Meera had closed the door. Was there anyone else in the room? Had a thief broken into their house? There wasn’t much to steal but what if the thief stabbed them to death in rage?

Meera looked for signs of intrusion, there were none. She placed the broom inside the cabinet and tried to exit, as quickly as possible. But before she could reach the door, the same noise stopped her again. A creepy feeling ran down her. Something was not right. Before she could turn back, Meera asked:

‘Whose there?’

There was no answer. She turned back and saw the broom on the floor. The cabinet doors were wide open. How could it have been? She had locked it. Meera picked up the broom. She couldn’t tell if she was looking at it or if it was looking at her. Once more she placed the broom inside the cabinet. Before she could close the door, it fell off. Nervous, Meera lifted it and threw it at the corner. It hit the wall by the window with a loud bang. A fume rose and Meera creeped backwards to save herself.

When she opened her eyes, her face seemed lifeless, like she had seen a ghost. A figure had emerged where the fume had been as the smoke settled. Meera was sure she was dreaming. All she had to do was to wake up and it would all be gone. By then the figure had begun waving, what seemed like a man’s hand. He bought his hands together and pressed his palms against one another.

‘Namaste, Namaste!’ he said.

Meera thought her ears had fused off. His voice seemed strange. He certainly had to be a stranger for the accent he carried.

‘K…ta…pa….yi……,’ he continued. Meera wasn’t sure what he wanted to say. But he ate his words as he spoke.

‘ang…gree..zi,’ he added.

Suddenly Meera understood what he was trying to say. She shook her head to reply yes to whatever he wanted to ask.

‘Phew, I was hoping you’d speak English,’ he said. He spoke faster than earlier, completely contradicting his previous speaking skills.

‘You know I have been learning Nepali for a few weeks to make sure at least I got the greetings correct.’

He was quick to add, ‘How was it?’

‘It was ok,’ Meera replied.

She did not know why she had begun this conversation with someone who had appeared out of thin air. She was still sure, that this was a dream.

‘Now, I’m Professor Zuck, from Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry,’ he said with confidence.

Continue reading “Meera Goes to Hogwarts: Chapter One”