There used to be a well between our homes. Somewhere midway on the path that connected our two backyards. Scattered with guava trees and lemon saplings. The well was surrounded with potted marigold. And in the distant pond, we could hear sounds of fish plopping in the water, all afternoon long. In my little girl's mind, I saw the neat trajectories in air that those fish must take, succumbing to their wild death-wish to be without water for a few moments, the flight of freedom, indulging in something, you're warned not to.
The sugandhraj tree that had overgrown and shrouded the air with its intoxicating fragrance, stood right beside the well. I would go there to pick up wilted flowers that had fallen off the tree and hold them making a pouch in my skirt. It was usually then that he would push their door open and ask me to come in. He was a few years older than I was. Then. Even now, I guess. Ages progress arithmetically. Anyway.
He made those noodles, that came in packets. You know, hardly anyone knew about them back then. He made them all by himself while his mother took her afternoon nap. Long yellow noodles that softened in the pan within minutes and he slashed open the packet of spices into them. We sat facing each other with bowls in front of us. There were no forks back then, we ate with regular spoons. With all the gravy spilling and blistering our thighs, he would try to dissuade me by telling me that those were earthworms. Ugh! Disgusting.
In summer, we made a doll house with bamboo stems, very neat carpentry from his side, I must say. I carried all my dolls into it, along with all my plaything utensils, pots and pans into that doll house. We had to evacuate suddenly one day when the rains came. That season, we kept a puppy and called her Beauty. We had tied her to the leg of one of the chairs on our veranda. Slowly, it grew big and had enough of the food we were feeding her. So one day, he let her go, without telling me. I cried my eyes out. I looked for that dog everywhere.
In winter, he made me a Christmas tree by cutting off a deodar, or something. He hung cotton balls from it, I assumed it was snow. I hung flowers from it. I was happy, really, overjoyed.
Today, our ages have progressed. We don't know where we are. I heard, he has become a raging alcoholic. His brain his shrinking at the same speed at which the universe is expanding. And I am. I am deplorably oscillating between finding a reason to live, and losing it. And wondering if life spares anyone at all. Anyone at all.