The Streets Have a Memory

The wet road was glistening in the lights of a night awake.

Cars on their way, street lights standing straight, windows that were ready to retire for the night. A girl and a boy walked out of the pub, hands clasped tight, kisses on the way — to the tube station, perhaps. They may go opposite ways, I said to him, but from here to the tube station this street will have a memory of the love that walked upon it.

A Night Street

That is what makes this a beautiful city. The streets have a memory. Sometimes, of violent and nasty incidents. But also of love — like we saw. And because the roads and the streets have a cumulative memory — the city has a soul. Cities unlike humans, don’t die. Very few cities in the world have died. Many have changed complexion, but a few have died.

I watched the glistening on the wet road, made wet by the soft, cold rain.

I wondered if it would remember me. Will it be able to lend its accumulated hope from the likes of me to the new nervous feet that will walk these streets years from now? Will it recognise me the next time I am here? Will it remember me, if I don’t ever come back here?

In the sober psychedelia of street lights and fast whizzing yellow headlights and red taillights – the street murmured a silent yes. As if you had to ask.

Ashamed and excited at the same time, I walked back to make my way home; gratified and mindful that my physical presence is not a requirement for belonging.


4 thoughts on “The Streets Have a Memory

  1. Beautiful post Atul. It reminded me of Pune. Some kisses stealed on that lane, some stupid prank that we played or a lovely song that made both of us go silent – everything comes alive everytime i walk that road even today. Memory flashes by as if it’s taking place at that very moment. And no matter how much the city changes, those memories find their place in it. And yes, “physical presence is not a requirement for belonging.”


  2. ==Bhumika:
    Thank you. I studied and spent a lot of time in Pune. Somehow, I never warmed up to it, part of it, my own resistance. Yet, some of the best moments in life with friends have been in Pune. I have left my mark on the city on the streets and bylanes and coffee shops and campuses, and they beckon me every time I am back there.

    Perhaps I have to learn to listen more carefully!

    Thank you! 🙂


  3. I have wondered that a few times of the lanes I have sat by to think. The trails of tears I left behind just because I needed to let go. I think of the streets my friends and I made beautiful memories. I have wondered a few times whether those places will still remember me.

    A very heartwarming post.


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