Vile Parle: Tracing the Bygone in the Bylanes

Some leisure work took me to Vile Parle the other day. Parle, as it is known to most, is one of Mumbai's neatest suburbs. Having spent two and a half years of my life here, I was overwhelmed by a queer feeling while treading the legendary pathways of the idyllic East side: Nehru road, Mahant road, Dixit road, Hanuman road, Subhash road, Prathana Samaj road and the like.
Of course, I lingered longer on Dixit road extension for obvious reasons - here stands the building called 'Kanchanban' that was once our residence, and in close vicinity is my Alma mater: the M L Dahanukar College.

As I walked around, I could not help sense a pervading pall of gloom all around. I first thought it was the shabby, sorry condition of the roads that made me despondent. Dug out beyond recognition to make room for the 'Metro' progression, they left little room for moving about and visiting cherished landmarks including Parleshwar Temple, Chimanaram, Utkarsh mandal, Mahila Sangh school, Anand Book Centre, Atul Ayurvedic, Phadke Udyog mandir, Prabhukrupa, Bharat Hindu Hotel, Adar Refreshments, Apsara Stores, Tashkent Emporium, Vijay Stores, Shivsagar, Jawahar Book Depot, Parle Book Depot, K K Punjab, Murugan Stores, Saurashtra Farsan, and Champion Stores. But no, the road block was not the reason for the mind block.

The pervading gloom was more in my head then in sight: my beloved parents, with whom I frequented most of these landmarks, were no longer with me. How could the walk be devoid of the sweet and sour reminiscences of a bygone era? I was even more befuddled when I learnt of the eerie happenings at 'Kanchanban' from a kind aunt of the adjacent building 'Laxmi Niwas'. She spent a good half an hour narrating the disastrous events that happened in quick succession following our exit from Vile Parle.

But what left me shattered was the sad news of my childhood friend who went missing one ill-fated day, and has never returned since. I had spent priceless moments with him and it was simply impossible to detach myself from his tragedy.

Without Unmesh Hasabnis, Vile Parle hardly means anything to me. I miss him like I miss my parents. I can never say Let bygones be bygones. I would rather wish Let the bylanes bring back the bygones.