Ever wished to get back into your childhood days? Of course you have, and several times too. It’s common with everybody, but is actually not possible. But what if, all of a sudden, it becomes possible? Won’t life suddenly become great, and all other mundane worries forgotten?
Have you ever wondered how a piece of charcoal looks grey against a polished piece of ebony furniture? Or milk which looks yellowish against a sheet of white paper? Or when at the beach, how much lighter the sky looks against the dark blue ocean? No, really, have you ever realized that these kinds of phenomena occur? It’s all a matter of comparisons actually.
Okay, I’m sorry. Enough with the ranting. The thing is I used to be very much fascinated about those sorts of things back when I was a school-going, naughty kid. In fact I was the naughtiest child in the whole of my grade, the most irregular in work and always a menace to the teachers, thinking of which makes me a bit nervous at present, now that I am getting ready for one of those days again, a journey for the lion’s den.
The well-ironed crisp, white shirt, the silk bow-tie and the suit that I was getting into strangely resembled the old days’ routine work of jumping into the dirty shirt and shorts of my school uniform, even though mother used to help me with it then, whereas now I’ve got to do dress up all by myself, mother having been lost years ago in an album of memories.
The clock chimed eight, and almost at the same instant I heard the cab honk rather loudly for the second time at my gate. I was immediately pushed out of the lane of bygone times. I must hurry. Making sure that the door got properly locked; I rushed out for Sunrise Hotel, seven kilometers away from my place. It was strange that the “back to school” feeling wasn’t letting go of me. Skidding through the ever busy streets of Delhi, I was uneasy in apprehension in case the heavy traffic would make my arrival late. Just like a student who has woken up late the morning apprehends being late to school, and rakes out all the wit he has got to come up with a satisfactory excuse so that the irritated class-teacher doesn’t scold him, I was in the middle of thinking of thinking of an excuse, when the driver informed me that we were parked exactly in front of the hotel. I checked my watch. The reunion party was due at half past eight. I was just ten minutes late. That’s okay then; ten minutes is excusable.
Manoj Shah, now Dr. Manoj Shah, after his Ph.D , was throwing a huge party owing to his success. The whole of our high school batch was thus invited, along with the teachers. Twelve years had slid away, but being back with the teachers was a different sort of feeling. I can’t describe it elaborately; it was a mixed bag of emotions.
Overall, the party was excellent. Nobody, not even one of the teachers blamed me for arriving late, even if it was made clear in the invitation card that no one was to be late.
Instead, my arrival was cheered, a flurry of hugs and hand-shakes greeted me. Manoj, who always had been a scholar, his feet were never on the ground this evening. And greeting the teachers and their families, who were always obscure during the school years, went fine too. They remembered my well-earned position of the most notorious boy. I was pleased, but somewhere deep in my heart, surprised too, that I won’t be scolded for that anymore ever again.
Exchanges of cordialities, questions and answers, resurrection of the good old memories and not to mention a heavy dose of enjoyment, all gave way to a faint realization. The realization that how much has changed, how much sorrowful and monotonous life had become, anybody hardly had any time for themselves…it was too sad.
That is when the musings about comparisons struck me again. If white was compared with white and black with black, then why talent is compared with intelligence, instead of talent? Even though I am a well-established engineer now, this is how my life had been treated. I could, never in my life, do what I wished, what I liked, all because of a game of wrong comparison. I was good at art, perhaps very good; but nobody, neither the teachers, nor my parents, ever compared me to the artists of my school, rather they always compared to the academic toppers. I, who was always average in studies, because they least interested me, was always chided a thousand times in a thousand different ways for my grades.
But now all of that was past, past with those days of school, and never would return. I had nobody to complain, nothing to do, except enjoying the party.
And, steering away from all those gory memories, I turned my attention to the ambience around. A strange, warm, welcome sight greeted me.
Though it was Manoj’s party, our teachers insisted on his having fun with us, and they taking the responsibilities of the host. They were supervising everything, and I could see that the waiters were having a hard time, cooperating with the strict strict-schoolmasters like frightened school boys.
I smiled. Thanks to Manoj, this would probably be the best party of my life. The bitter thoughts had left me by this time, and I was actually starting to feel glad, feel glad to be feeling like a schoolboy myself after all these long years of toil. To be instructed by the teachers again, be under their guidance, enjoying with friends, with not a worry in mind, was simply amazing, endlessly thrilling my sick heart (did I mention that I was affected with a heart blockage and had only a few days to live?).