Grandmother had often warned me not to venture into the garden during mid-afternoons for some reason that she alone knew. Who would stay inside a hollow-block building, on a hot summer afternoon, in the lignite mining town Neyveli.

The afternoon Sun was trying hard to penetrate through the thick vegetation and reach me under the Gooseberry tree where I was trying to read for the oncoming exam. Afternoons in Neyveli are usually harsh, but in our backyard, the situation was the opposite – cool.

That was when I saw her under the Tamarind tree. The yellow shirt and matching skirt accentuated her beauty. ‘Where was she all these years?’ I asked myself. At a distance of two hundred feet, she looked ravishingly beautiful. Or, was it the hormones that were working overtime?

How could she appear all of a sudden? Was she from the house in the back lane? Was she visiting her relatives in Neyveli? It was not school holidays either. I was confused. Nevertheless, her presence was a welcome distraction on a hot afternoon under cool trees.

Then she waved towards me. Or, was it my imagination? She waved again. Convinced, I looked around and noticed she was not waving at anybody else. My body stiffened, I stood up and slowly advanced towards her.

That was when she smiled at me. What a pretty angel, I thought. I hastened towards her. She started waving frantically as if asking me to move fast. ‘Better to hurry up before some one sees,’ I thought and quickened my steps.

Seeing me hurry up, she made a gesture as if asking me to embrace her. ‘Today should be my luckiest day,’ I thought and advanced towards her.

In no time I was in front of her. She was indeed captivatingly beautiful.

I looked into her eyes and tried to hold her hand while she continued to wave and gesture at someone beyond me.

I looked back and stared at the Tamarind tree.

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