<--Added on 8/22/08 for migration to TPB -->
Relentless march of time
There is a certain relentlessness about Time. Unsparing, unforgiving and completely unmindful of the vicissitudes of life.
This happened about 3 years ago. I was taking a bus to the railway station to catch the Bangalore-bound train. Getting into the bus, I flopped rather clumsily onto the backseat, struggling to balance my travel-bag with one hand and my keyboard with the other. Suriyan or some such FM was in full cry that morning. The intermission was lit up by the strains of the unforgettable "lala la lala la lala la laa....hmm hmm hmm.....
" humming piece that Ilayaraja so memorably conjured in Poonthalir Aada. (Immediately I remembered my search for that song's mp3 - the digital age was in its infancy then and mp3s were rare. My search lasted a few months. When I finally got it, I was too mesmerised. While going on vacation, I split the song into 3 parts, storing each of them in separate floppies). Having been starved of tamil music for 6-7 years, I mused how lucky the TN folks were.
The guy sitting next to me with a little bit of a Virumaandi moustache(the movie wasnt released then) was casting sly glances in my direction. My stop was about to come in 5 minutes. Breaking the silence, he asked "Did you pass out of your class X in 1993?" He even got my school correct.
-"No, in 1992. But I did study in that school", I replied. He must have lived in the neighborhood possibly.
-"I'm from the same school".
-"Oh yes? What's your name?" - not that he looked familiar but perhaps the name might ring a bell.
-"I am T.R.K."
I nearly jumped in excitement. "T.R.K is it you??? How have you been doing?? I can hardly recognise you. Machi, we both passed out in '92 and not '93. You know what, for years I've often discussed you with the X-C class guys of our batch. About once a year or two, I run into your X class deskmates. I need to get off soon. Whats your email and phone number? " I fired an unending volley of questions.
T.R.K was a quiet unassuming guy who joined my IV std class in 1985. He was soft-spoken but very talented. Often wrote witty dramas, skits and kavidhais and reeled off filmi dialogues verbatim. Had a flair for acting. At the age of 10, he scripted and acted in a school play called "Manmadha Paithyam"(prophetic character-sketch of Silambarasan, eh?) which was a rousing hit. Once I had noticed a lonely T.R.K quietly walking towards the toilet during the lunch break. His parents had gone to a distant town for a funeral leaving him and his little sister alone. 8 year old T.R.K had a forlorn face those 2 days. Wanting him to join the group idling away at the playground, I ran upto him and asked "Where are you heading to?". "Toilet," he responded. "What would you be doing if I had not stopped you now?". "I would have proceeded on my way to the toilet," he had replied with a straight face. I burst into laughter.
I was very chummy with him for 2 years when we were in the same section. After that we used to meet on and off till '92 when he moved to a different school. I was now meeting him after over a decade. How the hell can you recognise a guy with a Virumaandi-style mustache when the only mental picture you retain of him is from primary school? Holy hell, I even remembered his dad's name, street/house no. after close to 2 decades! But not recognising his face would have surely conveyed an impression of supreme indifference :(
We traded contact details and parted. A couple of emails followed but both got busy after that. Fare well, T.R.K., wherever you are. Till we meet again.
This happened a few months later. I had just settled into the back seat when a gent in the front seats looked intently at me, walked right back and sat by my side. "Apparam machaan, eppadi irukke?" he shot forth with a gleam. I was totally taken aback by his demeanour. "I am sorry, neenga yaar-unnu yenakku adayaalam theriyalaye", I answered in an apologetic tone. He introduced himself and shook my hand. I exclaimed in surprise, it was yet another classmate from that 1992 batch.
How slim he had become. He used to be a tall and impressive figure with a stentorian voice that added value to his regal stature. His bass voice used to boom in that class of 14-year olds, filling the rest of us with awe. I often used to mimic his crisp style of talking(a bit like Aravindsamy but more throaty) in class just for kicks. Those back benches used to be a haven of non-stop revelry...
Both of us didn't have a pen at that point, so we just exchanged numbers hoping to retain them in memory. Of course it didn't work. Never got in touch after that.
Someday I hope to meet all my childhood friends again. It may be an Utopian dream. Still even if we don't get to meet, I just hope they are doing great. Hopefully they shouldn't have picked up any bad habits like smoking, drinking and the like. Noooo, I am not a moral policeman handing out a fresh batch of diktats stifling individual freedom of choice. Whatever memories I carry are built upon those innocent days. I wish their lives today bear that same innocence and happiness. Since realities are likely to be harsh and different, what's wrong in stretching your wishes a little?