It was raining heavily…….
I boarded the bus with the wet umbrella and my bag.
It’s August and is bound to rain cats and dogs in Goa during this period.
To my delight, the stereo in the bus played some old classic Hindi songs.
“Pukarta chala hu main, gali gali bahar ki…..”
What a song!
The bus gradually gathered the speed.
It was Saturday night, so there were hardly any passengers in the bus.
The conductor of the bus came to fetch me a ticket.
I handed a Rs. 20 note to the conductor.
In return, he gave me the ticket and he returned a Rs. 2 coin as a remainder.
The bus reached the Margao bus stand.
Still one and a half hours more to go, I thought.
The bus had stopped and some 5-6 passengers boarded the bus.
Suddenly, someone came to me and said “Hey Durga……..”
“How are you??”
“How are you man? It’s been ages since we last met. All is well with me. What about you?”
Kunal was my best friend while in school. In fact we were like ‘chaddi buddies'( What else can you say when you were together since your kindergarten days??? )
It was in the Sharada kindergarten that we met for the first time.
It wasn’t that we clicked instantly. In fact we barely knew each other until the devilish teacher Miss Klita accidentally brought us closer.
The story goes this way.
Being the most talkative boy in class ( the coveted title which I held for several years in school and can still give a run for the money to the best in the business!!! ) and Kunal being quite the opposite, Miss Klita made us benchmates ( a measure that did appear to me as monstrous at that time) to restore the silence of the class.
The effect was obvious.
Not what you think….
I didn’t stop talking, in fact Kunal started talking much more than he previously did.
As the time passed we became really good friends. I at times felt as if I was incredibly lucky to get a friend like him.
We shared anything and everything, nothing was a secret then.
Days passed and we were in our early teens.
I remember our grading system to judge the most-attractive-girl in our class.
And how we both fell for the same girl in our class.
I remember how we used to pass those nasty comments on our teachers.
Those after-school hours on the playground that we used to enjoy, is just a distant memory now.
It appears as if it was yesterday.
After the tenth standard I chose science as my stream and he opted for commerce.
Both of us were really sad that we couldn’t be in the same class together after 10th.
But we promised that we will meet at least twice a week and call each other everyday. We even did that for a while, 2-3 months may be.
Slowly but surely, that changed. He got busy with his life and me with mine. We remained occupied with our classes, our new friends, new surroundings.
Nothing was intentional, it just happened.
Those ‘weekend’ meetings were now taking place once in 2 months. We spoke once in a week on telephone.
After 12th he went to Pune for further studies. As a result the gap widened so much that we couldn’t even found time for some FB chat.
The whole roller coaster of emotions was going on in my mind.
We chatted on various topics……..our classmates, teachers and lots more.
Finally, he got up; he had reached his station. I bade him a goodbye and he did the same.
He said “Good bye. And be in touch”.
I said “Yup, you too.”
We were so close as friends, I always wonder what happened.
Where did we miss out.
I miss him sometimes.
But somewhere I do realize that priorities have changed…………for both.
Perhaps, my place in his life has been replaced by someone else.
Someone much better than me.
“Be in touch”, these words really look hollow sometimes.
I know it won’t be the same as it was in school.
All of this made me nostalgic.
I got up as the bus approached my stop.
And suddenly I noticed that the stereo played this below mentioned classic Hindi song by Kishore Kumar
Zindagi Ke Safar Mein
Guzar Jaate Hain Jo Makaam
Vo Phir Nahin Aate
Vo Phir Nahin Aate
( The destinations that we leave behind in our journey of life do not come back ).