I must have been eight. Dad and I were going somewhere in a Mumbai local. A middle aged gent boarded at a station and plonked himself on the bench in front of us. He began a monologue, gesturing intermittently. Everyone glanced at him. Some chuckled, some smirked. A few stations later he got off. I asked dad. “All of us talk to ourselves but some do so loudly. It’s called soliloquy.” I wasn’t impressed. I thought he was talking to a ghost. I was into ghosts then. I made bold, “How do you know he wasn’t talking to a ghost whom we couldn’t see?” Dad promptly exorcised the topic. I spent the rest of the journey running all sorts of scenarios about the ghost and the gent in my head. It was the stuff of Calvin and Hobbes.
Cut to last week. I was on an errand dropping a friend’s eight-year-old someplace. We stopped at a light. Another car pulled up alongside. I glanced at the driver who was talking and gesturing animatedly. There was nobody else in his car. His gesticulations also caught my young passenger’s eye. “There’s no one else in the car. Do you suppose he’s talking to a ghost?” I asked. “Nah… he must be on his handsfree,” came the reply. No more ghosts in this digital age. No Calvin and Hobbes, too, for that matter. And soliloquy vanished at that railway station all those years ago.