Picking up from here.
It started at Ooty. This was from a time when I was a freshman almost more than a decade ago. I was truly glad that hostel life had beckoned me finally after years of wait to move out from home. I never had the idea of staying with my parents when I grew old enough. So for the first time I moved out of my house, to this different world. I was a fun-loving teenager, much more than I am today. I always looked forward to the next day; life was better and I had no reason not to. Every day brought new adventures in classroom. Most of the fun came at the expense of the teachers who came to impart lessons.
Out of them was our Prakash Sir, who used to handle Chemistry. He knew his stuff, of course. He looked quite a strict man to us initially. He was an ex-army man and my best guess is that he took his voluntary retirement as a Lieutenant colonel and he was not more than 40 years of age for sure. He was generous enough to share his stories of how he got into the Army, which is quite interesting as well, which I think I will share rather than making another post.
The SSB’s or Service Selection Board interview is a selection criteria for Indian army. The candidates are tested for 5 days over various personality and intelligence traits. This is after you clear the UPSC written exams. So our hero for the day, had already cleared his UPSC exams and packed his bags and left for Banglore to attend the SSB’s. There as per him, on the fourth day they had personal interview which was conducted by a group of five or six (sorry if I’m wrong, I am pulling back info’s from what I remember from more than a decade ago).
So he went in and he was asked by the interviewers on general things first and then later on asked,
How did you feel in Banglore? Do you feel homesick?
Banglore is quite a beautiful place. I am a native of The Nilgiris and I didn’t miss my home much.
The interviewer pondered over that reply and he replied promptly saying,
I was walking down the street last day in the evening. I found this beautiful lady walking in front of me and suddenly I felt curious to know where she might be headed to. Having nothing in particular to do fueled my intent. I followed her keeping my distance and for good long 2 kms I walked behind her. She took a turn and went into the building in front. My heart said that I wait here. Later I saw her come out of the building with her little girl in her arm. I guess, she might have gone to pick up her kid at the day care.
My place has a lot of beautiful women and Banglore is no different.
We all laughed and clapped conveying our appreciation. When stories about women transpire, we teenagers would get super excited for some unknown reason.
I am still unsure how much of this story is true, but the man was very jovial in nature unlike most other staff there. I really had a lot of respect for him.
Now back to me, I used to be out of the class most of the days. There was very less chance that I wouldn’t be late and hence I was not allowed in the class for the first one or two hours.
On one such fine occasion, Mr. Prakash had me in such a situation. I was 15 mins late to a class which was 45 mins long. He told me come inside the door and of course pulled my leg a bit.
As usual my chest and head were held high, with a great sense of pride as if I have done a feat that would make my mother proud. To us stupid teens then, being thrown out of the class meant a world. Proud moments that your class-mates see you go out while they haplessly sit in for those boring 45 mins. I was exactly there, on the verge of getting thrown out yet again. As he kept muttering things, my facial expressions were somewhere between a smirk and a smile, if I remember correctly.
Finally those golden words came,
You may please leave the class now and go enjoy the scenery outside. We have a canteen where you can go and have a coffee.
I gave a quick look at the class, they had me as their focal point of attention. But I was quick to get back in the conversation with him and asked him back
Do you want a coffee?
He looked back at me, smiled and asked, What?
I replied back, ‘I can get you a cup of coffee if you want from the canteen. Do you mind having coffee?’
‘How dare you ask me that? I will definitely have a cup of coffee with you, but that is after you get a job and buy me one. I don’t want a cup of coffee of your father’s money.’
Clean bowled… and I left but not to the canteen. I think I didn’t go to class that day for another hour. No, I was not upset, but just called it rest hours.
After more than a decade, I went to my institution. He was the principal of the institution. The place has developed 10 times than before. I could now see lesser trees, more discipline and lot of motorbikes and cars. The trees and the small jungle through which I used to run out of the classes were half missing. Sad.
One of the staff members from my time asked me about the noticeable change and I replied her that lot of motorbikes and cars have appeared now. She laughed and said, among all the tons of other changes, you noticed only that.
Finally that time came when I got a chance to meet our principal. I sat across the table. He was as cool as ever. He had loads of plans for the college and he wanted the alumni to be a part of it. He wanted to develop the college a bit and I heard him out say all his idea’s. None of his idea’s could be bad, of course.
I was not going to let him take away my privilege of buying him a coffee, not today. The peon came in and asked if he and I wanted a coffee. We both replied negative.
As he got up, I followed the suit, he kept his pen on the table and looked down on the paper lying on the table.
You are drinking a coffee with me sir, aren’t you?
I could have told the peon if you wanted.
Then I went ahead reciting all these incidents from those years. He laughed with me,
If I have made a promise, then lets do it.
We walk to the smaller canteen which is a small aluminium sheet covered one. It drizzled but hey, I love rains. I bought him a cup tea and I had one myself. While we had our tea, students who had jumped out of the class or thrown out of the class came to the canteen. He introduced me to them and mentioned our little story.
I said to him, ‘Do you remember, you threw me out that day as well?’
If I did so, I am pretty proud of doing it.
We finished our tea and I parted with a content heart. Sometimes life is not all unfair, you know.
Moral of the story: Beware when you tell me something, I will post it as a blog story after a decade…..buhahaha 😀