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Yaadu-Baaju

Maazu always liked walking back home from school. It was the last day before the school closed down for summer break. "Will you come to watch my football match on Saturday ", she asked Selina her best friend dragging her school bag with wheels as they walked past the football field. Selina was not much of an out door girl, she enjoyed reading books, sketching butterflies and trees on her sketchbook, but with Maazu she had the most fun times. They enjoyed each other's companionship to the hilt. Maazu would sneak out of her house during late evening just to spend time with Selina at her house against her parents wishes. Selina lived very close to the town forest and at times both the girls would wander into the forest for a walk, catching butterflies, aiming stones at the big boulder by the rivulet. "You should not go the forest, it has cheetahs, they have attacked people in the past, and the Gheru tribals, they catch young kids and turn them into goats with black magic to slaughter them for food", Maazu's mother used to tell her in extreme agitation, whenever she mentioned her forest walks with Selina to her. 

The football match got over and Maazu's team had lost the second time to be out of the league competition. As Maazu was walking back to the bench to pick up her bag, Selina jumped right in front of her and snatched the bag from her, I will walk you home Miss Mazna, and they both laughed. Summer went by cycling, making rainbow sandwiches, sketching and doing holiday homework in the garden under the neem tree.

The school had re-opened and both the girls started had cycling to school, until one day while returning home a car went out of control and hit Selina’s cycle, the impact flung her far and she never came back to consciousness. Maazu's sorrow was eating her, she knew she had lost Selina for life.  Days went by, Maazu returned to school and started sitting alone at the last bench of the class, stopped playing football and started taking the school bus. She only spoke when spoken to. When alone, she could only think of Selina lying unconscious on the road as the car sped away, she would cry in her mother’s arms, weep in school, stare at the football field not knowing it was a football field. The memories of Selina troubled her, she missed her best friend and there was no respite.

That Saturday afternoon was no different, she was had nothing to do, with great courage she went to the backyard picked up her bicycle and rode towards Selina's  house, it was getting warmer as she rode. She stopped and got down from her cycle in front of Selina's house, parked it next to the tree and walked hurriedly towards the forest, the speed walking changed into running, she ran as fast as she could into the forest crying until she could'nt run no more and dropped her weeping self under a tree. After a few minutes of silence she could hear rustling of leaves and some crackling sounds from the bushes. Sitting still she noticed two big feet coming towards her, following the feet up, it was tall scrawny man  in green pants twice his size with a brown fur jacket, before Maazu could react, he waived his right hand at her his only hand on his body, with an enchanting smile. She kept sitting staring at him while he approached her. " He came and stood right in front of her, extended his only arm to her, she held his hand and he gently pulled to help her stand. " My name is Gauri Gheru, I have something for you", he took his right arm around his back to reach his left pocket and with a little struggle pulled out a burgundy color metal box, it looked like a mouse trap with a big opening at one side. "I give you 'Yaadu-Baaju' sweet Maazu, this is a magic gadget to get rid of bad memories, my father Gheru Gauriji stole it from a wandering gypsy. Its of no use to me now and your deep sorrow is making the trees weep here, so I want you to have it. The pain you have is because you are keeping your bad memories close to your heart when you can loose them. Every time you choose to recall your bad memories, put your left hand inside 'yaadu-baaju', hold the tiny bell inside it, close your eyes and watch your bad memory on the black screen that appears when you close your eyes, watch it with patience, like a movie you have seen many times and still can sit through it one more time, watch your bad memory in your very own cinema hall, but do not forget to breathe, take long deep breaths as you watch and slowly you loose the bad memory you are watching for good. 

Maazu took 'yaadu baaju' with both her hands, smiled at Gauri and started walking back to her bicycle without saying word and did not look back. She remembered everything she heard from the man in the forest.

Following year she became the captain of her school football team and always looked forward coming home from school to play with her pet cat Selina. 


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