The development of Triple B’s relation with places, things and people of Kasi happened without his knowledge. He had walked through the same galis, year after year, day after 365 days, for many years. He had called his home three houses, less than a quarter mile distant from one another in the same gali till reaching his adulthood. He had lived in one house, the last one, for nearly two decades and had known the people of his neighbouring houses as his own people for the same time period. He’d address them with names of family relations: dadaji, dadi, chacha, chachi, bua, bhaiya, didi etc. He had sit thinking on the steps of the same ghats since he was fifteen.
Fifteen sounds too late, it was early in his case because he was not allowed going out alone till he had reached the age of eleven, that too only to his school that was less than six hundred metres from his house and he had only to walk in his safe gali to reach the stretch of road his school’s main entrance was on. There was a side door of his school that opened straight into his gali. It was reserved for releasing children once the school was over. There was a gate at the back too, but it was kept closed for students. So, he had an access to a free way six hundred metres long in the age of eleven. He got a bumper increment the very next year. In his twelfth year Triple B was secured a seat in class seven of BTIC, through his Chandrakant uncle’s source. His new school was nearly eleven hundred metres from his home. His new life began with his new school: a life that actually constructed his identity as a Banarsi, an identity that he retains till date.
He was allowed to go to his school walking. He used to carry a school-bag with his tiffin box and books etc. all the 1100 metres and back. Thus opened a whole new world to him. On the way to school he used to pass Sonarpura Crossing, a busy crossing in a populous part of the city of K asi. Four streets and a gali meet at the square whose vertices are Gopal bhaiya’s stationery store, Prakash uncle’s medicine shop. a general store that gave competition to Rana’s and a small temple of Devi Maa. Let me make the general store thing clear: Rana is my father’s friend Maamu (name) Chaacha’s son. His father is called by the name given by the locality. The name that means maternal uncle is universally used, even by the gentleman’s friends, like my father. Out of my loyalty to his shop that is the only shop from where we buy the things of everyday use, I seldom go to his competitor: the “them”. On Gopal bhaiya’s side, a couple of shops before his, is Shilpi Studios. Its owner is my father’s friend and it’s the only studio whose services are used at my place. The son does most of the work now, just like in Maamu Chaacha and Gopla bhaiya’s stores.
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