Hanging onto the Gate!
Trin trrrinnn! It was the familiar ring of a bicycle bell and tyres rolling over a dusty path, rocks tumbling under those furiously pedaling feet.
The days of living in remote cantonment areas, where the only communication happened through this hero in uniform. I’d be running on the hot tarmac, ou-ouing my way like walking on burning coal, but cool with anticipation of a teen awaiting news from old friends. I was hanging over the gate like greedy monkey waiting for bananas before ‘bhaiya’* could reach there and deliver the mail hand to hand.
Thrill of thrills! Guesses, who is it from? Some friends wrote like clock work, others didnt. But oh! Nothing could be taken for granted. This was the only entertainment in this old British town, too small for a good movie theater, big enough for a single University, sprawled all over a hill.
“Thank you, Bhaiyaa!” I rang out as he turned, trin trrrinnning away to the next home, delivery cheer from strangers to near and dears. My day made, I’d hop, skip, jump back into the cool interiors of our home, converted six horse stables, each room with individual doors leading in from the long corridor.
On my bed, sprawled, opening letters and reading, transported to the writer of my letter, my friend.
Dedicated to all my mail-friends and pen-pals, who made life curiously fun in those quiet places.
*Bhaiya: All known and unknown males were addressed as ‘Brother.’ In those days they even behaved like one, asking about each others’ welfare.