The funny thing about living here on earth is you meet people you had not expected to meet in most unlikely places. They may have left in your life vivid footprints that will not fade with time. Some of those footprints you would have wished to erase. But as waves of time try to wash away them again and again you will find them still etched in your heart. In play of life these people comes in unexpectedly in different scenes. We wonder who is the script writer of this play!
Well this story is about friend from schooldays. I was there in this new school. I joined there in fourth standard and it was entirely a new place, new people, new culture. I was flabbergasted seeing the enormity of the situation I was in.
In the school where I had done my 3rd was a gorgeous country side (mini town at least). The only dress code enforced was white shirt and maroon trousers. It didn’t matter if the shirt was tucked in or if you were in your chappals. Only dishonorable thing to do was talking to girls. Believe it or not I don’t remember if I did well in my school. Hence I am sorry to say I don’t remember if I was a bright student or just an average kid.
The new school was in a new place altogether. I went and sat in a corner. I didn’t have the guts to say hello to guys sitting around. I had a terrible nightmare of spending my life there with no one to talk to. During the break I was looking around and saw a calendar on the wall. I started studying it giving the impression that I had many important appointments coming up. Suddenly I heard my name called from behind. I thought ‘Hey who knows me here’. I was startled to find a friend from previous school. I didn’t know that he was here. He introduced me to the protagonist of my story……
This guy was really good looking with thick hair, a kind of husky voice, very very athletic. In here I am going to call him Fahim. He turned out to be someone really eager to help someone in need.
After a long time I was able to overcome my out of place feeling because of him. Well guys he has put a bit effort to make me feel comfortable. He always had a star image there and to be in his company was a great privilege.
In those days there were no mobile phones, just the land line. As I was not of much use to any one, nobody used to call me. So when once my dad said that I have got a call I was quite surprised. It was Fahim. The first phone call you get always has a special place in your life.
In that school some people used to bring snacks for breaks, some didn’t. He started a policy of sharing the snacks among us friends. And that too in a quite way rather than giving an impression that he was doing a saintly, sacrifice act. These acts of kindness , although small, have always stayed fresh in my mind and always has been an inspiration.
Just like movies our life has got its share of disappointments. During those days I was very principled during exams. I considered copying as very big sin (although I changed my opinions after my 8th). I was not class first or anything but out of some 30 students I always managed to get a rank less than 10. Anyways, I always did better than Fahim.
As I have mentioned I considered sharing the answers during exams a big sin. But there were teachers who encouraged this kind of sharing. It had been two years since I joined the school. Once during an exam I looked up to see him madly gesticulating at me. I understood what the matter was. Like a typical geek I pretend not having noticed. His expressions got desperate. I could see that from corner of my eyes. I finished the exam gratified that I stood by my principles. I was also ashamed to look at him
For the next exam I came with more preparations.
There is a common scenario seen from 1st standard to our degrees- during the last minutes we would have learned more than what we did in days. I finished my last minute mugging when the teacher started asking, imploring, threatening and finally pleading us to keep our bags outside. As I moved out my dear friend Fahim came up with a long rubber band and stuck a sweet blow in my butts. His face was twisted with anger and he mumbled something which I couldn’t get clearly because it drowned in pain. During the exams half my mind was thinking about this. After exams I ran home thinking more blows ere on their way. After this knowingly or unknowingly we drifted apart.
I shifted the school after 8th. I entered my 11th. 11th and 12th are years of hectic preparation for entrance exams. During tense moments I used to reminiscence my happy go lucky days. I wondered if I will ever see any of them from my happy days again.
One day, sitting in a cramped tuition class I heard that familiar name. I was quite stunned to see him. A sea of emotions went through me. Fahim had become more slim, clean shaven and was spotting braces. I waited for two days if he would recognize me. When I went and asked if he had recognized me, he said he had a suspicion. So it was a happy and unexpected reunion. We shared what happened in our lives. He too had left the school soon after I did.
Life went on....
During my college days Museum became my favorite hangout. The best thing about Museum is you run into people unexpectedly. Museum always had a sense of thrill for me. You may get lucky running into budding romances. The perplexed and pleading expressions in their faces used to give me a secret pleasure.
Once I saw him sitting there. He had started to grow a beard. The expression on his face spoke of distress he was going through. He opened up to me without much invitation. He told me of the bad company and circumstances he got into. The supplementary papers were piling up. I tried to give him some encouragement. Well, I am not so good in that. But I still hope it gave him at least a glimmer of hope. It was not the Fahim I had known. He was always jovial guy and I couldn’t believe he got himself into a bad situation.
I got into this f****ing company, into this f****ing job. We friends from similar situation used to get together and shared our sad stories. One day I was thinking of this guy. What would have happened to him. One day as I was finishing my walk in Museum here he is again. He grew a bit bulky , jovial as usual. He has some papers to clear still. But he has got much hope and belief in himself. He was doing a Red Hat course. He spiced up his dialogues with ‘AlHamdillullahs’ and ‘Masha Allahs’ and ‘Inshah Allahs’. He found his strength in almighty at last. We promised to keep in touch. But has not till now............
So I am wondering…when will I meet him again…in which scene?