Shruti sat down on the doorstep of her Grandma’s veranda, watching the latter putting water to boil on the fire she had just lit. Shruti smiled. How many times had she sat down on that same step? How many dreams have been woven here? How many memories of hers does it cherish? The mango tree stood in front of her, leaves gently swaying with the occasional breeze, as if nodding knowingly. And suddenly, Shruti remembered the first time she ever fell in love.

She saw herself. That carefree six-year old in the blue school uniform, a pony tail dangling from each side of the head, sprinting from the gate into Grandma’s house. In the next snapshot she saw herself, beaming, carefully balancing her brown cup of tea in one hand and a huge piece of buttered bread on a plastic plate in the other, trotting towards the veranda door barefoot. She heard Grandma’s soothing voice, cautioning her to be careful not to spill anything on her dress, or mommy would be angry.

Sitting down on the veranda step now, Shruti remembered how she had sat the same way so many years ago. She remembered the way she used to like dipping her buttered bread into her tea before slurping it, occasionally stopping to sing out loud something she had just learnt at school. And then, she remembered the feeling which followed.

She remembered how her heart had skipped a beat when she first heard it. What was that? Putting down her bread on the plate, little Shruti wiped her hand on the end of her dress, pulled her knees to her chin and listened more intently. Wide-eyed, she felt intrigued. Why was her heart racing like mad? Not quite understanding what she was feeling, little Shruti raced towards the kitchen, where stood the old beaten radio which seemed to be a hundred years old and which had never before seemed interesting to her.

Whatever was coming out of that box at that time was beautiful, Shruti knew it. She felt it. She didn’t quite know what it was, just that it felt so sweet to her ears, and made that little heart of hers so happy that it had to be the most beautiful thing ever. Never before had she felt so happy as then, smiling, softly clapping to the rythm, enraptured by the melody. Humming, she wished it would go on and on. Who would have thought that Grandma’s old radio could be so beautiful?

Sitting on the veranda step, twenty-year old Shruti smiled. Her first true love. To this day, it was still living in her heart, and she knew it always would. Softly, she hummed her beloved to herself. Chinna chinna aasai . . .


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