This Saturday, me and my father visited the RTO office. He was due for his DL renewal. While he was talking to the agent and getting his paperwork, I couldn’t help but peep into the Yonex shop that was nearby. I informed my father that I would be back in a few mins and requested him to wait there if at all he finished his work early. Slowly, I walked towards the small shop. It is hardly 15 feet by 10 feet store with huge posters of P V Sindhu. There was a display of all kinds of badminton rackets. However, I wasn’t interested in the rackets. I was searching the other side of the counter for a salesperson.
Meanwhile, one of the sales representatives approached me asking, what I was looking for. It’s not ‘what’, but, ‘who’ you should be asking, I slowly murmured. While I was lost in that thought, “Aastha, is that you?“, said a voice. “Thank God!! Yes, it’s me. But, how did you know it was me from behind?”, “Ah, that was because I was watching you in the mirror”, he said. “I am so glad to meet you after so many years. I have come here a few times, always wondered if you were around, but, never really came inside. I wasn’t sure if you would remember me before I walked in”, there was no stopping to my talking. “Of course, you and Ali used to come to buy rackets and shuttlecock cans. You always insisted for the feathered cocks”. “Yes, true. This was our regular store back then”. “So, what are you looking for now?” he asked. “Honestly, I came here only to see you. Sorry. There was no intention to buy anything”, said I. We laughed talking about so many memories.
It felt like yesterday all those instances happened, yet, it has been more than a decade or even more. Time just flies was the thought I had. “How did you remember my name?“, I asked him. “That wasn’t because of you. It was because of your father. He bought a badminton racket from me once. It was one of the first makes of lighter ones from Yonex. Immediately after buying the racket, he wrote your name on the leather cover. I asked him who it was and he said that’s his daughter’s name. Later on, you came several times along with Ali, but I had no clue you were Aastha, until one fine day you came along with your father. I connected the dots. I could have been wrong too. BTW, how is your father?“, inquired he.
“Oh, he is right here, renewing his DL”, my eyes lit up while saying that. He insisted on meeting my father. We all had coffee together. Though my father did not remember him, he certainly remembers visiting that shop. The conversation went longer than I expected. That was a heart to heart connection.
Before I met him, I had so many thoughts in those few mins while I was walking towards the store. Is he still there? How he would be? How did covid affect his business? Is he still the owner of the shop? and so many other thoughts. The only hope was to meet him and feel good about it. I wasn’t expecting him to recognise me either. Yet, the conversation with him made me so happy.
Me being who I am, let me tell you, I wouldn’t have made an inviting gesture to start a conversation back then. I would just walk into the store, make the purchases and return. I don’t remember talking about anything other than why I was there, We don’t even realize but, some connections we make have so much impact on our lives. Though we don’t call them friends or family, those connections are still very special. They enlighten us when we remember them. At some point in life, those people were meant to cross paths with us and for good. We never know how such a connection can make us happy in future.
“Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.” – Sean Stephenson