It was a lovely day in the month of February. I don’t remember the exact year; perhaps it was the early 2000s. The sky was overcast, but a cool breeze breaking into gentle gusts intermittently flavored the day.  The leaves lay strewn on the roadside as the trees awaited the spring to grow back leaves. In the late-afternoon I was out on my ranger-max, my beloved bicycle.

I was making laps of the circuitous path in the church compound when I heard something crash behind me. I turned back and saw a girl lying in a heap with her bicycle. I would have laughed had it been a familiar face but I had not seen her before. She must have been new in the area or maybe I never noticed her.  I removed her bicycle and extended my hand helping her to get up to her feet. The touch of her hands made me go all giddy, and my head was floating in la la land. The touch of her hands was so soft. She wore a lovely frock. Her curly hair fluttered in the breeze; her dreamy dark-brown eyes, and a small mole on her right-cheek mesmerized me.

I enquired if she was all right as we introduced each other.  As she went her way I asked her to be careful but I hoped she fell again and I was there to help her. The few days after I met her my mood was in an uplifted state and I was all happy-happy. The beautiful weather augmented my emotions further and I felt a connection while listening to the love songs on the music channels or when played in my cassette-payer.

On the weekends I would be off to the church compound waiting to get a glimpse of her.  I would be impatient when she would not show up, and when she did, I would be irritated seeing her with her friends, as this made me hesitant to approach her. After a lot of trial and error and with help from my resourceful and useful friends I found her alone in the compound one day. Her bicycle was parked, and she was offering a prayer in front of the grotto.  I waited and when she spotted me she gave me a smile.  I wanted to dance at that moment. Had I been in my room alone, I would have, but I was out, and I did not want her to think of me as a buffoon.  We went to the nearby thela-walas and munched on bun-momos, jhal muri , and the kulfi ice-cream. What a day it was.

Three months had passed since I first saw her, and during one of our casual walkabouts she informed me that her family had to move as her dad was being transferred. I secretly wished to change things and make her stay. Alas! I could not do anything about it and a reluctant good-bye exchange followed.

Years later I spoke to her. She had grown up to be even more beautiful.  We kept in touch for a while and then she informed me she was seeing someone else.  I quietly moved on with my life, holding on to those wonderful memories of innocent crush,  times spent on cycling, making fans from dried leaves, feasting on ice-cream, tamarind-flavored jhal muri, and yummy bun-momos. 

On a lovely February day my ears sometimes scan around to listen to a bicycle crash, and in the eyes of my mind I see a beautiful smile.