Some cities hold a special place in my heart, not because I lived there for years, but they helped to unearth a part of myself. For better or worse, I could never go back to the person I used to be.
First encounter with such a city made me feel like a butterfly that is just coming out of its chrysalis. Small, insignificant and not yet sure of flying. But has taken the first step towards freedom nonetheless. It was a cold December. I watched everything with wide eyed wonder. I approached new languages, people and cultures with a naivete that was so unbecoming in a woman of my age. I was so oblivious to the measuring eyes of others. What felt like a small step to others felt like a huge jump from Earth to Mars for me. It still does.
The next visit was after an year. It was a hot and humid May. I was a different person altogether - still undecided and clueless about so many things in life, yet so different. At that time, every aspect of life seemed to be rosy even when I was unsure of what I wanted out of that phase. Love changes you like that. We found so many new places, and swore that we would go back there again. Tea, bookshops, sea - It was all perfect. In my heart of hearts I embraced the exhilaration of romance with a tinge of sorrow, knowing that this one is not bound to last and yet hoping against hope.
I couldn't bring myself to visit the city again for more than six years. But I knew I needed a day in the city again - to heal. I made it happen in last year. It was July and the city was nothing like I have seen before. It was moody, about to pour down and it felt like a reflection of myself in the mirror. I traveled in the trains, taxis, buses, auto and searched for the familiar places. I remember going to the cafe I visited last time and having a dessert with the saltiness of my tears. Then I went to the bookshop and found out that it was closed years ago. It was a sign to let go of those memories, like a final nail in the coffin. When I left after days of wandering alone, I felt relieved.
I don't know if I will ever go back to that city again. May be some day, I will make new memories there!