When I was giving rest to my tired bones at my friend’s house after a hectic Durga Puja celebration I got a call. It was an unknown number. Usually I do not attend unknown numbers at night but that day I picked up the call.

“Biswajeet …..”,  the caller said.

“Yes, it is me,” I replied trying to fathom who the caller is.

“Tuney pahchaana”… was the next question.

This question always irritated me when the caller plays games like `Pahchan Kaun’. I, majority of the times, disconnect the call and never attend it in future. But that day I do not know what happened that I started conversation. Probably the warmth in his tone and the use of word `tuney’ made me amiable because in Lucknow we are used to hearing the words like `Tum’ and `Tumahre’ while the word tuney is more north Indian expression which has more affection.

“Nahi,” I replied.

“Main Shimla se …. Pradeep Sood. Tera classmate SD High School mein,” the caller said.

The words like SD High School and Shimla had an electrifying effect on me. He is one of the first school mates whom I was able to trace rather he was able to contact me.

I had a vivid memory of class mates in school. Frankly speaking I even do not remember names of my friends because immediately after school I left Shimla and went to Solan, Nahan and Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh to do my graduation. I made new friends there and practically speaking I lost touch with my school mates.

I always rue that I am not in touch with schoolmates. I voiced my disappointment to my son Joy. I told him that he was lucky to be born in the age of FB and WhatsApp where one can be in touch with friends while in out times it was proverbial Chithi which was the only connection between the friends.

In school with cups and shields

So, when Pardeep called it was like he woke me up from the slumber of more than three and a half decades. “Tujhe yaad hai …..” Pradeep said talking about some incident, which I do not remember actually but answered in affirmation just as to keep him engaged but was kicking myself as how can I forget my school mates, their names and faces.

He connected me to the WhatsApp group of my classmates and many of my old mates came up with new anecdotes. First call I got was from Rajendra – the man who has newspaper agency in Shimla. He sells The Pioneer there – a nice connection.

“O Biswajeet, Bichchu…..” wrote Anil Sood.

The word Bichchu stung me. In school days friends used to call me Bichchu … I do not remember why.

The cloud around old memories started fading.

Ashok Kumar wrote: “Dhoondly memories. But I think you were the favourite student of Raina sir”

This took me to the memory corridors of SD School where a bespectacled soft spoken man used to teach us English stressing on importance of grammer.

Then there was a call from Baroda.

“Remember … I used to come to your house. I lived in Sanjoli and many a times we used to come together from school,” said Ranvir.

“Yes ….”, I said.

I did not tell him that I was envious of him that time because he knew how to ride a bicycle and I do not.

He continued: “Do you remember we bunked school and went to too see movie but were caught because my relatives too came to Rivoli (cinema hall).”

Me – such a sidha-saadha baccha, bunked school. I who was apple of the eye of teachers because I was good orator and won many prizes for the school and here a classmate telling me that I had bunked classes.

But I enjoyed the conversation. Interaction was lively – as it is with classmates. Some incidents, some names I do not remember. But who cares. Friends are friends.

“Hare ek friend zaroori hota hai …. And today I got my lost friends.

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