Together [Even] After Forty-seven Years!

There are bad, sad and mad days in life as you will readily see. But there are also days which begin with a pleasant surprise, and they add fun and cheer to one’s life.

No, it’s not the one when your wife serves a masala tea with a smile, it’s not the day when newspapers carry a happy story as a headline, and it’s not the day when your driver smiles and wishes good morning. You sit there reading newspapers sipping your cup of tea, dipping a biscuit in it and eating it, and the telephone rings. You are sure that the neighbour has called up to check if the milkman has delivered the milk pouches. But this is that special day when the unusual and the unexpected happen.

C called up. Let me refer to him by the code letter ‘C.’ It gives anonymity. It also brings suspense in the story. And it may remind readers of this piece of the James Bond’s boss who was referred as ‘M.’ The similarity ends there, he is not the chief of surveillance and espionage. He is an architect.

“I just read your mail,” C mentions with a tone of excitement. Now I am completely foxed. You see a sixty-two year old is always aware that his memory is failing him, but not remembering a mail sent in the recent past is too much to swallow. I have always wondered whether I was developing Alzheimer’s, and here was the evidence staring in my face.

C was my schoolmate, and a quick calculation told me that he was calling after forty six years after we left the school. Forty-six! “Up to tricks, number forty-six” as they would call out in the game of Tambola. It did bring smile on my face. I decided to listen carefully.
  
Having taken a long pause, a la Atalji, C continued, “You sent it eighteen months ago and it went to my spam mail box. I discovered it today.” Why would anyone read spam mails after eighteen months? But be that as it may, Architects are known to rummage through old material and pick up a gem.

“Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes!” I said. “I have a faint recollection of writing to you.” When you receive a call from a friend after forty-six years, the excitement in life comes back. You feel as if you have discovered a chest of old wine. Whisky, if you prefer.

“We must meet. Golf Club is a good place for meeting old friends.” This was the irresistible invitation. “Right ho!” I said, “I will be there.”
* * *
It did not take too long for me and C to put together a plan of reunion of the class of ‘66. C corrected me, “not forty-six, it is forty-seven years later we are meeting our schoolmates,” he said reminding me that maths was my enemy #1. My wife and C’s wife glanced at each other and smiled to confirm their unsaid agreement on “these plans will not materialise, nothing will happen!”

The day arrived. Heavy downpours did not dampen our spirits. C and his wife and I with my wife came in early to supervise arrangements. Then the Poet walked in with his wife N. A, the accountant, arrived from Pune with his wife Dr Ms S, both our schoolmates. They had also come with M, the techie. Ms L had also just reached. Soon Dr Ms M and her husband, Dr V walked in.

“Who else is coming?” everybody asked. ‘Ms K and her husband,’ I answered. I received a call from K. There was heavy water logging near her home.

Somebody snatched the phone from my hands. “Oh come on, hold your saree knee high and walk your way to the car.”  

“The last I saw you was when I attended your marriage reception.” “You have not changed much, you look the same.”

“I would not have recognised you.” “I saw your photographs on internet.” 

“What do you do now?” “You must sing a song today, you used to do it so well."

“When they name their children after raga or some musical terms, rest assured that they have stopped following music as a hobby.”

Among interesting conversations, this takes the cake - “Where is Ms X? Any news?” “Ask my husband, he has up to date information on girls!”

“When did you last visit Canada?” “She called up to tell me that if I visit Niagara, she will come over to meet me there.”

C gets everybody to move to the Bar. A bottle of Black Dog is bought. C is a meticulous planner. Everybody notices it but everybody is excited and in conversation with somebody.

“I was in Madhya Pradesh. It was a tough job. Gave it up. Finally I decided to launch my own enterprise.” “Just returned from Bhutan.”

“Your office is where my nephew and his wife met! I told them ‘Your boss was my classmate!’” “They say my office is a marriage bureau!”
“Why? What happened to him? Oh, he is no more? Really?”

“He told the man standing near the door in the local train not to hold the bar with both the hands. So the man asked what if I fall down. He said “You won’t, if you did I will give you one hundred rupees!””

Amidst all this, the CM walked in with his wife. “CM was sitting next to me and he asked me if I was Dr M when we were getting down from the airplane! I could not have recognised him. Why didn’t CM speak earlier?” Dr M complained. The Poet was quick to give advice to the CM. “You should have asked her when you identified her. In case it was a mistaken identity, you could have still continued conversation!”

We leave the Bar. I give a tight hug to CM. A man sitting on the high stool, sipping his whisky looks on with great curiosity. I tell him “Meeting after forty-seven years.” He grins, mumbles something.

After dinner, the Poet is asked to recite some of his poems. He recites three or four. One on the suggestion of his wife.

The time comes to part ways. ‘Let us meet again in November.’ In Pune. All agree.
* * *
It was raining incessantly as we stepped in our car. 

And there was flood of memories and nostalgia.

Here is the Accountant's rejoinder which I received after he read this blog-post:
“Next day it was flood of water and heavy down pour for The Accountant, his better half  Dr. S and M, the Techie who departed for Pune. To the great relief of the Accountant, M the Techie insisted that he would sit in the front where he is supposed to be most comfortable and Dr. S missed  the routine side seat driving. Though the conversation lingered with the yesteryears’ s nostalgic memories,  all the six eyes were fixed on the road in front where the visibility was hardly few feet. The road was chockablock with heavy traffic and deep potholes till Panvel. There was visible relief on everybody’s face  when the car hit the expressway. Dr S tried to cheer the Tech by telling  him (a great shock and surprise to the Accountant)  her Hubby’s excellent driving exploits. She did not realize that her Hubby, the accountant, was already having attack of cervical spondylitis due to constantly craning his neck to locate the road in front of him. 
The trio reached Pune after 4 hours  safely though slightly uncomfortable due to pressure on old faithful bladders. 

A great get-together to remember!”

Vivek
PS: Edited Photograph.

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