Monday, August 06, 2007

Hilly Roads

It was a warm day. I knew I was excited. But I did not know why?I always wanted to go there. I dreamt of being there, although, I did not know I was dreaming. I always thought I can see future!I was finally going to see where I had been before. Do they call it déjà vu?But how did I come to know of the place? Well, that’s where the story begins. In full Bollywood style, I begin with a flash back…I had stories from my paternal folks about the place. All green during summers, all white during winters and all colors in between. Now, that was fascinating to me. At that age, you tend to love everything your Dad says and hate everything what you don’t understand. And I did know that its really hot in Lucknow in summers and winter is the best time of the year. And the thought of having cool breeze around in June and watching snowflakes in winters was an amazing idea. Who would not want to? I know I did.It was 1986 and my elder sister had already taken admission there. Wow! And she sang praises too. I had to be there. I was destined to be. Although, later in my life I did come to realise that my parents, especially my Mom, did not want to send me there. Anyhow, I took the admission test.Did I tell you about the admission test? Naah, not that I passed it in the first attempt. It was because of that test that my Dad slapped me for the first and the last time in my life!! Yeah, he is a nice guy and does not believe in the carrot and the stick narration. But, he was fabulous at keeping kids terrorized. But that day he lost his cool. And what a place it was. The AC-2 compartment of the Punjab Mail, which we boarded from Lucknow to Calcutta (I still call it Calcutta and would call it the same till I die). One tight shot, pin drop silence and the rest of the journey was a dream again! If I remember correctly, I slept through the next 24 hours till we reached Howrah station.Moving ahead, I took the test in a school in Santragachi, a suburb of Howrah district. I could see hoards of aspirants like me who had come. Watching them with their parents gave me a super kick. Some of them would be with me in a few months. I wanted to befriend all. The test got over and results were announced. I was happier than usual. I knew I did well and would be called for an interview. But I was feeling good that the slap on my face and the two-minute silence maintained by the people in the train did not go waste.Interview went off well. I answered all of their questions except one. I did not know the meaning of the word ‘recognise’. How could I? I had never heard of it. At seven, you are not supposed to? Or are you? Anyways, I could not ‘recognise’ the people sitting by my sides! I was asked one final question. Do you recognise the people by your sides and can you tell us who out of them is an alumni of the school? Or something like that…. But I could not hear anything after the word ‘recognise’. I was zapped. Dumb. Silent. My ears became warm. Eyes became watery and my palm started sweating.Ofcourse, I don’t remember if all this happened. But till today, before saying, “I am sorry” or “sorry, I don’t know”, this is the sequence. So, am sure this is what happened.

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