School autograph

Today is the only completely free day I have. I am planning to laze around all day. When I am here, I hardly lift a finger and make the most of it. Being waited on hand and foot, a luxury I can only get when I am with my mum. This is what Kavitha also does to me when she comes home.

I start the day with my usual routine, sitting and reading the paper on the porch drinking my morning cup of tea. I suddenly have this urge to look for my old school autograph. I haven’t seen it for a very long time. Chances of finding it are quite slim. Somebody must have thrown it all away when they cleared the place out during the renovations. However I had this feeling that today I would find it. Amma tells me that there are books stored in the office room cupboards. I find books that my headteacher gave me during my school days. Books that survived the ship journey in the big wooden crates. Most of them including stamp albums got water logged and damaged during that journey. Some were salvaged, others beyond rescue. I also find books I collected during my school and college days.

I almost finish one cupboard when Amma tells me that there are more books stored in the mill. I see a couple of drawers and try to prise them open and voilà there it is. I have added an address in the eighties but otherwise untouched for almost 43 years. I also find a letter from my friend, Laly, dated April 1975. It still looks like it was sent yesterday. There is something in it that she has written which we have a laugh about later.

I also find a diary from 1974. That was my brother’s baby year and I have noted all his milestones, the day he sat up unaided, the day he started crawling, his first cinema and the day he started walking. There is also an entry on the day when I was looking after him while Amma was having a shower. I was carrying him when Asha did something and he leaned over and before I could steady him, his forehead hit the cement ledge with an almighty bang. It was one of the scariest days of my life, but my diary entry only mentions how much Achan scolded me for that incident.

According to my diary it looks like most of the school days were cancelled due to strikes, I argued a lot with Beena, I made quite a lot of Hospital visits and watched a lot of films. There is an entry of a school excursion we took to Neyyar dam and Kanyakumari. It was heartening to know that my school year was not only about studying but that I had a good time as well visiting family and friends in addition to watching all those films and that I looked forward to reading the children’s magazines like Balayugam and Balarama.

Coming back to my autograph, I have written comments after each entry. I have given my friends all nicknames and they me. Only very few boys have written in it and there are some entries from girls of other classes who I do not remember. I made all my friends write a second entry as there were plenty of pages left. The girls’ fun personalities are all evident in the entries and I have added my responses to their messages. It looks like I also had a fun side which I had forgotten about. Asha, and Nishanth, who was only a year old at the time, have also made entries.

I get messages today saying how much my friends like me and how much they are looking forward to seeing me again in a year’s time. There would have been a time when I would have thought ‘yeah, yeah, right, as if’, but now I know they sincerely mean it. I have trust issues and some relationships confirm these feelings but mostly I have very good friends. When I tell one such friend, he tells me that he envies me.

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