It was closing time, but dad still didn't show up. So I called his bank. A mature voice on the other end replied..."STATE BANK DE NOBILI CAMPUS..."."May I speak to Mr.A. Mukherjee please...". "JUST HOLD ON..". After about three minutes he transferred the call to dad, and dad, in his usual gruff tone, replied.."HELLO..". "Are you done baba?I am waiting..". " WAIT FOR SOME MORE TIME MAMON, I AM STUCK IN THE CASH COUNTER, WILL COME IN ABOUT 10 MINUTES..". "It's closing time baba, I am walking towards your bank....". Saying this, I disconnected the call and left the C.M.R.I office.
As I sauntered through the impeccable streets of C.M.R.I. colony, dusk had begun to prevail over the Coal Capital of India.The warmth of the day sundered into crimson fumes of the evening, as the elusive rays of the sun finally disappeared from the ephemeral horizon, engulfing me with the nerve racking winter air. The trees were filled with a cornucopia of chirping birds, who would fly every now and then in herds, and fill the sky with a plethora of happiness.As I left the main office gate, I saw something in the garrage which i hadn't seen for the past three years...my school bus! I was suddenly filled with a settling sense of confounding nostalgia. Ah....this was the way I used to pass every day in my school bus! So many dreams, emotions and unforgerttable memories engraved in the eternal epitaph of Past.I had an inexorable urge to ride into that bus again...if only the bus could take me back to my golden days. I was lost in thoughts, when a gust of wind swept past my face, pulling me out of my trance. As I continued to walk, I passed a couple of middle aged aunties gossiping about their daily lives, and a plump Punjabi girl with a long plait and snickers, jogging, with a firm determination to loose weight.
The C.M.R.I. stadium was bursting with activity as budding cricketers were undergoin rigorous training and old grand pas with specs and monkey caps performing yoga and a group of roadside romeos staring at me. Opppsite the stadium was another smaller field, which was primarily occupied with kids, which had room for less sophisticated sports such as lock and key, kit kit, kabaddi etc. I passed through a volley of staff quarters and narrow lanes untill the magenta walls of the Hanuman temple marked the end of the colony. It was time for the evening prayer and the air was reverberating with the chimes of bells and bhojpuri bhajans. And finally, I came across the attritious edifice, the abode of my dreams.The stark and austere junior block of DNS, C.M.R.I. may not be as magestic as its senior counterpart, with humble classrooms with asbestos ceilings, but it holds a very special significance in my life, as this was the place which nurtured my childhood. As I glanced through the windows, I remembered how happily I used to roam about in the corridoors. As I was passing through the windows, i stopped outside a particular window as a surge of profound emotions made my steps heavy. Ah..this was the classroom I could never forget! I first entered this classroom when I was in standard 1, and I remember how I used to impress Mrs Anand with my fluent english and by singing english songs for her...the yellow dress which I wore on my seventh birthday, the first prize which I bagged in the elocution contest and the special prize which I received from Mrs Anand for scoring a 100 in mathematics. I was once again engulfed in thoughts. A cinematic rewind swept past my mind as I recalled the last time I had entered the class room. Standard 12...Youth festival... .I had just finished anchoring the solo western singing competion...and there you were waiting...with your charizmatic smile which is enough to make my day. You congratulated me, and made me feel soooo special, as you always do. Food packets were being distributed and we both ate breakfast from the same packet. When I began to leave to wash my hands, you just held it. I could sense from your touch that you were nervous...as your show was only a couple of hours away. "What??..", I asked softly. "Nothing...", you whispered back in your soft but magnetic voice..."Just sit here..don't go anywhere today." I smiled and whispered back..." Neither do I want to leave you.." .
The horn of my dad's scooter again pulled me out of my trance. To my disappointment, I realized that the classroom was devoid of any furniture and the floor was filled with dry gulmohar leaves. The windows were broken and were housed by a plethora of termites. The walls were nested by colonies of spiders. Similar was the fate of the entire junior block as a new junior building has been erected inside the senior campus and the unforgettable junior block has simply been abandoned. Tears filled my eyes as I saw the heavenly abode of my childhood days slowly transmogrifying into a ghoulish graveyard of byegone memories.....
( P.S. Love you DNS.....MISS YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH. Thank you for grooming my personality. And thank you for gifting me with some of the most special people of my life. Oh De Nobili, HATS OFF TO THEE !!)