Roma – is still my love. A few months back, I had said: “Now, when I look back, I am filled with the same love although it has a striking pain attached to it”. I had no idea then, how painful it actually is until I stepped into Rome during my month-long Europe visit. It was so painful, that I couldn’t even write my usual notes about a place. I remember my sh talking about the movie, “The Great Beauty”, in which a tourist dies with a heart attack overjoyed by the beauty of Rome. And I wasn’t surprised as I felt immense joy and overwhelmed in Rome when we first went there. Now, I experienced the exact opposite – immense pain because Rome is where I opened my heart free, then and now.
This time, there were 3 people – the two young sprinting explorers and a teary-eyed girl trying hard to keep up with them. But she couldn’t catch up. She spotted them in the roads leading to and out of Pantheon, inside the Pantheon, outside the Colosseum and Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, St. Peter’s Basilica, Pinsere Roma and outside Mario’s apartment among others. They were faster than her, although she knew the roads and places in and out. She didn’t need maps like them and sometimes, not even the bus numbers or the stops. One never knows if she was in Rome or if Rome was in her.
As she stepped into the mighty Pantheon, she saw them listening to Rick Steves’ audio guide and heard them acclaim in amazement that Raphael was buried in the Pantheon. They took many photos of the Oculus and she did too. She realized that technology had improved in the last 3 years and she got better pics with her phone now. They left after some time and she cried and cried – the most in any public place. She heard Rick Steves’ guide and relived those memories of wonder in pain.
She sat between the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, in front of the Arch of Constantine. The sprinters were inside the Colosseum – he was asking her to pose like a queen. She saw them walk through the Roman forum talking about the great emperors who walked the same paths. Now, all she could think was that her sh walked these very places and was no more.
She waited in a long queue to enter St. Peter’s Basilica while reading “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. She saw them excited and listening to the audio guide and cut off half way to attend a communion. She completed the guide though, in spite of tears rolling down her cheeks. The massive basilica embraced her like the mountains do.
She ate in a few places they did and a new place with yummy pizzas wishing she could call out to them and have them taste that too. Whether she visited the places she had learnt about in her Roman architecture course or not, she definitely tried the best Tartufo mentioned in her course book. She sat at Piazza Navona, relishing the Tartufo from Tre Scalini, listening to a musician singing “Let it be” and she just let it be.
She finally threw 45 cents into the Trevi fountain wishing something secretly. You could see the sorrow in her eyes as she did that. Her wish was so deep and silent that only her sh would have known what it was.
Then, when she sat in the airport lounge, waiting for her flight, she got a call. It was her mentor who asked her to decide the name of her book by the end of her trip. She immediately snapped out of her extremely low state and remembered that she has a not-yet-known purpose to fulfil. She gathered herself, ready to explore her purpose with a new sense of zeal and headed to Andorra.