I was on my way home, to Surat in the Shatabdi Express, busy watching ‘Naruto’ when I felt like I was being watched.
He kept peeking at me from the corner of his seat. At first, I felt a bit awkward and ignored him to concentrate on Naruto. But when the co-passenger sitting next to me vacated his seat, this person took hold of that seat and kept gawking at me until I couldn’t resist.
“Hello! My name is Harshit Shah. I’m 9 years old. I study at St. Kabir’s School. I live at Siddhi Vinayak Apartment…” He went on to say the house number, his parent’s names, their phone numbers like the Morning Prayer taught at the school which I still remember and the moment I feared he might give me the spare keys to his house, he stopped with a deep sigh and a wide smile.
“Okay. I’m Lekshmi. You can call me Ammu. And I guess that’s all that’s ‘needed’, I think.”
“Are you watching Dragon Ball Z, Ammu?” he asked.
“No. It’s Naruto. It has Gaara, not Goku.”
“Do you watch Pokemon, Ammu?” he questioned, totally ignoring my pun.
“I used to,” I answered it short since the kid made the conversation spooky because he ended every question with my pet name.
“Why doesn’t Pikachu turn into Raichu, Ammu?”
Amazed at that unexpected question and excited to put the analytical me to work, I was explaining to him how Pikachu wasn’t exposed to the Thunder Stone and how Ash would never force an evolution upon any Pokemon when he abruptly started the introduction all over again.
“Hello! My name is Harshit Shah. I’m 9 years old…” I was taken aback, too freaked to tell him that he had already introduced himself to me when his mother interrupted, informing me that Harshu suffers from a kind of memory loss. When Harshu forgets his reason to be present at a certain place, he introduces himself because for him, it’s a whole new conversation.
In the three hour journey, while we watched Oswald and talked about all kinds of Pokemon and their evolved forms, he introduced himself at least fifteen times and took my name, a gazillion times. To souvenir this journey, he took a picture with me, wrote my name (Lekshmi) with an ‘X’ in his diary and tied a friendship band on my wrist. When he got off, I felt a pang in my heart when he said,
“I’ll try to remember you, Ammu.”
Written by: Nair Anandhalexshmi.
Picture by- Jigar Patel (Instagram- @urbanlens_mumbai)