12/03/2010 by Siddiqui Fayesal
The long forgotten tear seems to slyly slip out of my eye as I see my school’s grand entrance as I whiz past it on my bike. Around this time over 7 long years ago I dressed up in my grey and whites for the last time. For the last time I had felt the thrill that “being free” usually invokes in us youngsters. The last time, or so I thought, that I would be seeing the Jungle Gym at the gate; the last time I will be seeing the Basket Ball court and hear all its graveyard stories.
Time sure passes by. And quickly at that. I never thought that I’ll ever miss St. Peters so much. But those memories. Those dead memories are roused and provoked daily. Every single day as my nephew waves them in front of me as if the tot knows how I feel about it.
I see him get ready for school following the same ritual; brush, bath, breakfast, bon voyage. I remember how it used to be with myself so clearly. Always the laziest to get up. But the quickest to get ready. I used to hate having to go through the thing that people called “a bath”. I remember there were times when I just used to go in the bathroom, sit, splash some water on my face and come out. Goodness knows how people managed to sit next to me. I wouldn’t ever know will I? Maybe I didn’t stink. Maybe I didn’t stink because I never sweated like a horse like how its now. Maybe my partners never pointed it out to me that I looked unwashed.
I never bothered about it that time. But that was 7 years ago. That was 2003 and this is 2010. Being washed and looking clean is very important now. Even for a person like me. In 1996, I remember clearly Mr. B. Gardner was teaching us something about leap years. That 1996 I remember so clearly that its become the benchmark for my school life. I don’t remember what year I was in class 8 but if I calculate from 1996 being class 4 then I get… year 2000.
Wait. I think I remember 2000-2001.
How the hell can I forget the low ceiling store room in which I spent one of my best years of being a Peterite. How can I forget the lovely lady, Mrs. Jobs who taught us Chem, Physics, Bio and Maths. I remember clearly what she used to say: Something like- Don’t you think this is a lovely class. I know its small. But its also so compact. It makes us feel like a family doesn’t it. So close to each other. We can reach out to anyone in a jiffy.
Yes, Ma’am we could reach out to anyone in a jiffy. If only we listened to you properly we would have. No one has the time for a text or a call these days. Our lives have become restricted to those 160 words per SMS.
There was this guy I never got along with very well. Sanjay Jain. But today as I am typing this I don’t know why I’m reminded of him.
How every time I saw him I made fun of him. I’m not saying that he never poked fun at me. Just for the record I was the person at whom almost all the jokes were directed at. I’m not going to list them down here as I don’t want to write a comedy.
Anyway even after school we, that is, Sanjay and Me went to the same college- Jai Hind. He was in the Science stream (what else with brains like that) and I opted for Commerce (what else with brains like mine). Every time we met he said, “Hey, Fayesal what’s up?” and I said, “Nothing much. What’s up with you?”
That was it. This was our conversation. Now I stop to think that being in the same class for 3 years warranted a better communication between Ex-Peterites. I’m not blaming him. The poor guy made an attempt. I was the weasel. Sometimes I used to think, “What an Ass. Can’t he come up with a better question other than ‘What’s up’ ”. You see how obnoxious I was. I didn’t try and I was cussing him for trying.
For those times I say sorry to you, Brother.
Class 8. The year when I broke free from the shell. When I started speaking in public. When I stopped being shy. When I stated having fun. I don’t know why it took so long for me to break the mould I was shut in. maybe my brains gave an SOS signal knowing I had only 2 more years to live in Peters. The time I gathered enough guts to push Prabhakar Pandey in the dustbin for hogging the entire breeze the tiny wall mounted fan gave.
Pandey. Another person who people thought, me included, was eccentric. And therein lay the captivation he held for me. Abuse him. Hit him. Call him names. Nothing provoked him. But touch his bag and you’re a goner. He was the first person who I know who respected his books so profoundly that it made people laugh around him.
But it made no difference to him. For him his bag was his temple; his place of worship. I did visit him at this house once sometimes during my ICSE study leave. I remember he called me to load the movie “Armageddon” on his PC. After talking to him a couple of time I realized he was a nice guy. Not as loony as people thought him to be. He was just shamelessly sincere about his beliefs and not afraid to showcase it.
After the ICSE I just met him a couple of times. But for at least for the last 6 years I haven’t
heard from him.
I wonder what he did with his life.
The same way I wonder what I did with my time at Peters’. Mrs Jobs made a point to remind us that we were one family. A family which is now dispersed totally. It lays in ruin like the remains of the old fabric that once was nothing short of a trousseau fit for a princess. That lady invokes gratitude in me to no end. She was a very lovely person. Not exactly a physics genius. Not even a wizard with numbers.
But her innocence was reflected in every thing she did. She was so passionately in love with her “family” that she allowed all of us to accompany her to Nehru Science Centre and to other places in her activity lectures. The thing was that only 15 students were allowed per professor. But she went and spoke to Mr. Garett (our vice- principal) to allow her entire class to come; 65 of us. Mr. Garett never denied her. He knew a genuine person when he saw one it seems.
The trail of memory is endless. I can write about the most boisterous person in the class to the quietest. No it wasn’t me. It was someone by the name of Azim Mumbrawala.
Many would remember him as a violent person and he was a bit of a fighter and not at all a speaker. He had his reasons. Mr. Figarade probably was the only one who knew what lay underneath the trauma. I have never stopped feeling guilty for the number of times I pushed him beyond how much he could take. On the bright side I know he seriously enjoyed our company. Hussain Rangwala, Hozefa Dhruv, Sultan Ansari, Nabil Rayani and Me. We were good pals. He liked us for sure. I mean we were beaten up by him but no so much as Kashif Shaikh and Ahad Quereshi.
I know there will be many who will not recognize these names. But they existed. They still do. We have fallen apart. Our family is uprooted, thrown and unarmed, trodden upon by us and we trample it and give it idle glances.
The joy we felt within the four walls of our classrooms has been forgotten for ever. The memory is there waiting to be revived. But who will find the time to look into the quagmire of broken shards and incomplete stories. Who will remember the boy Yasin Shaikh who was a boarder while his parents lived at Jasmine Apartments just a 59 seconds walking distance from our 6th grade classroom.
Who would care to look back in time a see every ones face and memorize it so after long years when we come across those faces again the hint of embarrassment is absent of not remembering the persons name. I’m so bloody pissed at myself (forgive the profanity) for not even knowing all my batch mates when we were at school.
The first name that comes to mind is that of Sameen Borkar. I knew her by face. But I had never ever spoken to her in my life. Now, after almost 7 years I spoke to her on the phone. And I don’t think I would have even done that if I wasn’t so charged up about something. I’m sure she remembers why I suddenly called her one fine day. Although I should point out that she was the one who contacted me initially. Does that mean she was aware of my presence in school?
The stories to be whipped up are endless. Right from Abbas Deghani to Zain Patel. But would I find the time to tell a story relating to every person I knew then. Would I remember the time no matter how unimportant it was then? Now when I want to crystallize it and own to will I be able to. Will I be able to relive my past life at Peters’ with the same joy as I see my nephews get ready for their school day after day.
Will I have to relive my life at Peters’ through them?