♫ Happy birthday… to you!! ♪
♫ Happy birthday… to you!! ♪
♪ Happy.. birthday… to dear “so and so” 😛
♪ Happy birthday.. to.. you!! ♪
And then the smiling boy let out a large wholehearted “Thanks!” to his friends and classmates who stood up to sing the song for him on his day..
The little boy ran to his bench, searched his bag for a big pack of eclairs that his mother had kept near his new lunch box… a shiny yellow one with a ‘Winnie The Pooh’ sticker on it. He had been waiting to tear the packet of chocolates since weeks, his joy was the proof.
He started with the leftmost row, 1st bench and handed one chocolate each to every of his classmate. Many of them didn’t know him. Some didn’t even know his name. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the exchange of “Happy Birthday!” and “Thank you!”.
His best friends for sure got 2 eclairs each but that’s a well hidden secret 😉 .. Coz equality 😛 !
3 eclairs for the best-ever-best friend! (Psst. “I will give you more in recess, not now or the teacher might scold me!”)
Some said he looked good that day. The new clothes maybe? The one day we are allowed to ditch those boring uniforms and give way to the new clothes just perfect for the occasion, the one day your teacher won’t scold you if you didn’t bring your homework, the one day your hands shook a thousand other happy hands as they all smiled at each other, knowing that its a special day for you.. and they want to see you happy is all.
I once knew a person who was born to be the best. At least for what I knew from the 2 years we had together, eyes with a bright spark of wisdom, a heart of innocence like none, strength like a rock but as gentle as silence. For what I knew, I knew that’s one person who need not be reminded to “never change” and be an inspiration to not just me but to every other person in their life.
It was around this time of the year when we had our final exams when I was in secondary school. It was a good old school in a small town. The beauty of schools is, whether you study in a high demanding private institute like the DPS of Ahmedabad or a small public school in a village, no matter how much you study, when you are a kid, you do worry about your grades and when you are a child, you really rely on your friends’ “all the best!” a lot! 😛
I used to get 1st rank in secondary school for a long time here in Gujarat. Ah! The time of my academic life 😛 I don’t remember a lot about how I used to sit through my exams except for the computer practical exams where I was the first one to leave… by about an hour margin compared to the 2nd person to leave the room 😀
That’s one lab I never missed to show(off) my skills. But OK, that’s a story for some other day 😛
I was talking about exam time. Yeah. And about the “best of luck!”s that floated around during those stressful hours. I was friends with most of the other toppers of my class. I mean, good friends. One of them is still my friend though not a topper anymore.. at least that’s what I know. Sorry if I got it wrong! One of the other toppers was this person I was talking about…
And I remember that our roll numbers were so apart all the time thanks to certain roll numbering rules of our school, that we always ended up in different classes though we also ended up discussing our preparation before the exams and our papers after exams… that is if we got to see each other after the exams. Its not like we had Whatsapp or Facebook back then 😛
We were best friends indeed.
I remember one very distinct time that I was climbing the stairs to get to the 3rd floor where I had my exam room, when I crossed the window of the room where that friend’s exam room was…
“Best of luck!”
“Same to you!”
That wasn’t the last time we met. Because I very very very distinctly remember the last sight I had of that person. When you have a younger brother in the same school, its easy for people to find you because people know you care about your brother and that if you were any good as my friend, then your brother would be just too important to miss. I met the brother just once. I was in 6th or 7th and he would have probably been in 2nd or 3rd standard. Well anyways..
I remember the central ground where among the crowd of children discussing their papers and running to their parents as they come to take you home, among the toppers yelling at each other “My answer is correct!” “No! Mine!”, among little boys and girls in kindergarten who.. well.. had no exams at all! and among the grown ups who were all ‘cool’ about their exams… among my friends and among the unknown… I saw… from a distance that was no more than 30 seconds of walk; only if I had walked up there that day; for the last time, my friend and the little brother..
Little did I know that that would be the last time I see both of them.
We didn’t have each other’s phone number.
Nobody knew what happened. As the next year’s attendance sheet said “Left”, there was something more than just a friend that left the school. It was one of the best ‘friend’s I have ever had and probably the best I had ever seen.
And the funny thing is, it was me who was supposed to leave the school that year and leave for Vadodara. And the thought of me leaving, left sorrow on my best friend’s face every time I had to mention that. Little did I know… little did I know..
I never left that school.
My best friend did.
Growing up doesn’t have to be so much a straight line as a series of advances and retreats. – “The Wonder Years”
When we were young.. we were all really good. We laughed, we cried. We made friends. We fought with our friends. There were no ‘engineers’ or ‘doctors’ back then. We were just children who aimed to become worthy citizens of the nation. We took pledge everyday after our innocent prayers to God “Itni shakti hame dena daata” (Oh God, give us the strength). We were what our parents told us we were..
When we were young, all we wanted to be.. was a good person.. and I hope that’s still the simple reason to exist