Short Story #3
March 4, 2008 § 3 Comments
He parked his car in the compound of what was his old society. The place where he had grown up. He was tempted to go to his old house and relive some of the old memories, talk to the people in the building – the few from his childhood that hadn’t left the place. He had brought along the keys too. But that would have to wait. He walked out of the gate and towards the school gate. It was close by. As he crossed the road, he looked around the surroundings; so much had changed, yet he felt comfortable here. He had, after all, spent all of his childhood here.
He entered the school gate. The approach to the school compound had always been this narrow sort of road, flanked by trees and filled with gravel. As the gravel/pebbles shifted under his feet as he walked, he smiled. Some things don’t change, he thought. The school compound had changed though. Interlocking instead of concrete. Impressive, he thought. The banyan was still there thou. As was the stone bench under it. The same bench on which he had sat 15 years ago on a chilly February evening during the farewell ceremony and wondered aloud if he could do something to stay there some more. “You could flunk in the exams”, she had said, sitting next to him. He had smiled back at her then; he smiled now. Thinking of her always made him smile. He shook his head, berating himself for thinking of her. But he couldn’t help it. He moved on. He took the stairs. He always did. It will waste time, he thought. But it was ok.
He looked up at the topper board on the first floor landing. Names long forgotten were etched there. Some familiar, the others not. He could never even think of being up there. He had never aspired to. That was for the students who were serious with their studies. Not for me, he thought. Though he had come mighty close to being up there. Immortality, he thought, was your name on that board. And he had lost that by one place. He had come second.
The Principal’s office, the staff room, the library. All familiar places. He went on. His class X classroom. The fondest memories are here, he thought. And they were. He entered the class. People had been there. Lots of them. Remembering. Nobody forgets. The blackboard was new, a metallic board. Teachers wrote with markers now. Pity the kids nowadays, no chalk bits to fight with. He smiled again. He had been hit with more than his fair share of chalk bits. He looked at the seats. Not much had changed. Same wooden benches. He went over to the middle column, third row. He used to sit there. He sat there for a long time, remembering, smiling at all the things they did then. Being a kid had its share of rewards. His phone began ringing. He knew who it was and why he had called. “Yes”, he said, into his phone. “What yes? Dude, you’re late! The reunion party’s begun. Where are you man?” “Aren’t we a little old to be calling each other dude?”, he replied. “You must be old! And don’t change the topic. Where are you? You’re coming right? Don’t tell me you chickened out!” “No, I’m coming. I’m in the car, might take another 15 minutes”, he lied. “Ok, dude. See you here then”. He hung up.