He walked me home tonight. Not exactly home, but then the entrance to Thamel has always been home to me. And on the way, the moment we passed Indra Chowk and its going-to-be-closed shops, he excitedly told me this was the place where he grew up.
These were the roads he first stepped on, the area where he first went to buy pau with ek suka. There was a twinkle in his eyes that I couldn’t miss. Although, I too had been walking these very road since I was a kid, although, this too was in some way a home to me; I knew what he felt about the road from Indra Chowk to Ason, with Janbahal and Balkumari inbetween was totally different from what I felt. I just passed those areas, he grew up playing in them.
“Do you wanna go and see my house?” he asked suddenly.
“Sure,” I was excited.
“Do you know which is my favorite home?” I asked him.
“Of course. Right there, that.” he said.
We took the small galli behind the temple in front of my favorite home. Right on the small door, he was stopped by an elderly woman. “Babu, you are home?” she asked. “Well, technically.” “Are you sleeping here?” “No, have to go back. I just wanted to check the house.”
We entered the galli and turned around the corner. “Kaka, are you alright?” he asked a shopkeeper. “Oho, babu. Yes I am. How have you been? Are you going to spend your night here tonight?” “No kaka, I have to go back.”
I could see his smile getting wider each time we encountered someone he knew on the way. They would exchange greetings and he would be asked the same thing. Someone would ask him about his family, someother wondered when they were coming back. After few steps, he showed me a big white washed house with tiled roof and perfectly crafted windows. But the house was dead. With windows shut and no one living in, it felt as if the soul of the house has been lost.
“That’s my house man.” he broke the silence. “That’s where I grew up as a kid with 32 members.” The smile that had been there the moment we stepped on the streets of Janabahal was long gone. A sadness had replaced it. “This was the house that used to be the brightest in this chowk. This was the noisiest house in the tole. Now, it’s dead. It’s the darkest one and it’s the quietest one.”