Return to Neverland

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Return to Neverland

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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othing seemed to have changed in the last four years. Charbagh railway station with its domes and arches was still the prettiest station in the world. It smelled the same as I remembered: a mix of urine, charcoal braziers, and the signature aroma of Indian railways that leaves a metallic taste at the back of your throat. It was a muggy July morning, so I could detect an additional whiff of mangoes in wooden boxes, stacked on the platforms. It felt good to be back home.

I had been away from the city where I grew up, for only a few years. I’d left as an adolescent at 11, and was returning as an almost-man at 15. In that short span, I’d grown from a piddly four-footer to a stately 5’6” and had stretch marks to prove it. I must have matured mentally as well, but the impressions that I carried of my hometown, were those of a child. For the last four years, those memories had simmered inside, relived like moments with a long-lost sweetheart and shorn of all blemishes. The tricks fondness plays on our minds!

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