She returns now a woman with new cities in her spirit.
Hello again, she had wanted to say to this old-new city. Yet, somehow her hello tipped at the corner of her mouth. A stilted, unsaid word. Flailing amidst the soursweet throaty feeling that wrapped her.
She couldn't remember saying goodbye that time when she packed her bags and books to leave. Not for a short holiday. But for a proper, grown-up move. To battle another life. 'I'll be back in no time' was all she remembered saying amidst the hazy blur of hugs and I'll miss yous at the airport.
So how does she say hello again to this city that coursed in her veins? It was a vain and vexing city. Her well-travelled eye is now critical of this facade. Draped around a muddied confluence, the towering new buildings spiral with a nouveau rich kind-of-city smell. The streets are strewn with apathy, while a sense of hurriedness permeates, following the sweat and dust.
She had seen many grander ones, full of pageantry and oozing with old world charm. Always, she felt quickly at home in most cities. It was just a matter of time before she would embrace its particular rhythms. She would always be on the go, seeing a magnificent icon emerge from the travel brochures, unearthing a new treasure, sauntering down unknown alleys, chatting with a fellow traveller in a noisy cafe, watching the sun rise in new lands and crumble into strange seas. Doing something, going somewhere. Time always ticked furiously in such cities.
But in the old-new city? Time stood still here. Encasing the years. No other city had bottled her 18 year old bright eyed self. The happy glint amidst a shared laugh. A gentler time. Of naivety and kindness. And tears, of anguish and heartbreak. Everywhere she went, she saw pieces of her former self.
It is here, in the old-new city that she could let go. She could just be. She remembers the piquant dreams that they nurtured together. The cackling and fizzling many layered dreams. That her mature eyes now notice have burnt into sombre grey ashes. And rise again in many new forms. The wind has strewn them in various nooks and crannies. In the city with no hellos and goodbyes.
She will return soon. With promises and kisses true.