Written by Papia Ghosh
Walking through the narrow-overcrowded streets of old Hyderabad, I lost my heart to the old charms of the city embedded in the intricate latticed stone balconies, shuttered windows and the tantalizing whiff of its famous Biryani spilling over into the crowded streets. This was the town where people walked along narrow footpaths almost jostling against each other; there were shops selling colourful bangles, beautiful dress materials, sarees and of course, pearls.
As I walked aimlessly drinking in the aroma and colours of the city, my eyes fell on a bifurcated road, “Lucky Street” the board announced with a proud and prominent arrow pointing to my left. My curiosity got the better of me and soon I was walking along a strange street where people came to try their luck, to peek into their uncertain future aided by talking parrots, tarot card readers, astrologers, people selling fake stones and strange dry roots. Smiling at the follies of the gullible, I walked along ignoring the eager calls of many who were more enthusiastic to predict my future than I was.
Skimming through the strange vendors of the Lucky Street, my eyes fell on a quaint blue door with intricate wood carvings some of which were broken and its colour faded with age into an aquamarine blue.
‘Ms. Bella and her Crystal Ball’ it said. Curiosity got the better of me and I pushed aside all my apprehensions as I gently tapped the door. “Come in dear,” a friendly voice called out. I stepped in gingerly, with a strange inhibition tugging at my feet.
An aged lady in a garish floral gown greeted me with a charming smile. It took some time for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit room with a rugged sofa and a few worn out cushions.
“Come sit here,” she invited asking for my choice of beverage. Declining the offer, I glanced around my surrounding.
“So, what do you want to know?” she enquired in a kindly voice. “Well…” I was lost in her dangling earrings, the cheap perfume and the all too loud makeup.
“To be honest, I don’t know.” I wanted to see a crystal ball was all I could say.
“Let me see where we are,” she replied with an understanding smile while calculating her naïve customer.
In no time, she placed a round glass globe on a raised table between us. As she touched a switch, the globe began to glow throwing a strange concoction of colours around the dark room.
Ms. Bella stared at the strange colours and moved her hands around while I stared at her crooked red fingernails.
“You will be famous one day,” she said, and I laughed at her in disbelief. “Impossible!” I said.
“You will come back one day in search of me,” Ms. Bella replied in a trance. “You are absurdly lucky about money. They will find you when you need them. Lucky girl!” she said.
Handing out a hundred rupees note, I left behind a displeased Ms. Bella who reminded me that I should visit her when I became famous. Shaking my head in disbelief, I stepped into the bright sunny afternoon ready to embrace me in her warm welcoming embrace. Nothing could get in the way of how I lived my life.