Lost And Found
Lost And Found
Sometimes! Just sometimes memories are good things to look back at. So mostly! We should just look at memories afar and return without even touching them. Although, seemed like, it wasn't easy or I wasn't well prepared for the consequences. Every corner was reminding me of endless stories revolving around certain people, few of those are now hard to find. I was more excited than I showed. I might exaggerate but even that wouldn't sit well with what I was feeling. So.. Yes ! I was feeling way too much and I knew this was a pure invitation to evil. It was one of those situations where your heart beats faster pumping inexplicable emotions alarming throwback to few things that won't be healthy but somehow you convince yourself to live the moment and feel
the uncanny presence of past in present.
There came a time when I crossed our classroom. Class Xth 'B'. A class where I learnt everything but reality. Uncountable memories started dancing in front of my eyes. I wanted to pause there.. go into the class but I chose to move on as fast as I could. I guess, it was the most generous service I served myself in that entire day. I just had a glance into the classroom. It was empty but I felt a chaos in my heart of that class filled with our laughter and talks until at least one of us, who always has an ear on teacher's footsteps. (They are super-powered gems, I must tell you because yeah! I am one of them) warns the rest. I hear her footsteps coming down the corridor and I turn
back and hush them to keep calm. The whole class is a graveyard now. Teacher enters and we all greet her in a generic chorus, “Good morning, ma'm"..because it's fun to see that helpless expression of teacher urging yet unable to stop us. But she has already hit duster on the table. I guess it's one of her mechanisms to show detest to any situation. However, what drew me away from this throwback was my friend saying, "hey, the staff room"!
Yes ! The staff room..! I remember how much I despised this place, because I hated being around so many teachers until that one day when I was there to collect notebooks and what I see is a novel , kept on the table right in front of my English teacher's seat. Yes! The same teacher who
I treat every book and dog on this earth as my own. So yes ! I just habitually started turning the pages and suddenly turned back like a thief when a voice called my name followed by, “what are you doing here?"
It was her only and I could do nothing better than pointing my finger towards the novel so I didn't even do that.
"I'm sorry ma'm! I.. I should not have.." I kept trembling to reach the conclusion.
"You haven't committed a crime. Do you read?" She interrupted.
"Yes, I do".
This rapid fire round was making me uncomfortable because only authors I used to read were Charles Dickens and Premchand plus the utter pressure to impress the teacher was now losing its peak. "Ma'm ! I've just read Charles Dickens and Premchand.." My replies got unusually short and undertone.
"Seriously! Never heard of R K Narayan ?" she questioned this with a pristine judgmental look.
"R K Narayan.. R K Laxman.. I always get confused ma'm..." My apologetic tone was pushing me to an edge to leave the room instantly.
"No ! R K Narayan was a writer. R K Laxman is a cartoonist. This is unbelievable.. haven't you ever heard of Malgudi days..?" Now this time the tone was full of rebuke.
"Oh yes! Malgudi days.. I have read that ma'm. Actually I don't pay heed to who I read.. that's why! Otherwise, I also love its show on Doordarshan"..
"Always pay heed to who you read and why, Pragya.." She told this handing over the book to me which I received like an honour. After all, I had to return to the class and brag about it... But!
"Pragya, I want the book as it is now.. and nobody should know I've given you this. I don't lend my books much.."
"Sure ! Ma'm.. thank you so much.."
"Go..it's time for your next class"
From that day onward , we were teacher-student in the class but outside the class we were also book dealers to each other. I used to deliver novels from my grandpa's library to her home and she used to lend me her novels. Funniest part was when , she asked me once to bring her something
of different genre to read and I brought her a pile of "Champak" "Chacha Choudhary" , "Nandan" and "Balhans". I was ready to face another hit of duster and look of reproach. But to my surprise, she enjoyed it thoroughly. SCORE !!
I remember borrowing a novel by R K Narayan from her. I kept that book for a while longer as our pre-boards were on ! After few consecutive days of forgetting to bring the book to school , I finally managed to bring that to staff room to return. As our reciprocation of books was a secret game, I only could return that to her in staff room. She was leaving for our class only.
"Finally ! My book is here. Were you eating it..!?"
Sarcasm! She was my Chandler Bing before Chandler Bing ! "I almost ate it.." I replied with a shameless grin that probably couldn't match her level of humour.
"I can read this over and over again, ma’m !" I compensated.
"Then.. Why don't you keep it ! It's my last book to you, anyway.." She said it with a smile that I had never seen on her face for me, for any of us !
This was coming from a woman who can kill you for touching her books.
"Why... You have nothing left ?.." I said casually turning the pages of the book.
"No! I had requested for a transfer. Guess what! They've affirmed for it. Kendriya Vidyalaya , Jodhpur it is.." She said it in one breath with a different smile than the earlier , waiting for my iced
face to react. "However.. it's my last class here. Syllabus is over. I will just discuss few possible questions for boards today. That's it.." She said this again in one go and almost left the staff room.
I followed her and started walking slightly behind her. I remember myself saying just this to her...
"Ma'm, thank you so much for this souvenir! Now that book is with me forever, can I tell Shashi (my best friend) about it.."
" Yes, you can! And, by the way! 'Souvenir'! my goodness.. Pragya..!!"
"Yea.. a little word I picked up from the novel.." I said this pointing towards the book in my hand , again with a forward grin but followed by two symmetrical laughters in harmony. Now ! In the
end I knew what could make her laugh! ANOTHER SCORE !!
"Pragya.. I think we should leave now. The classes are off already.." I got distracted again by my friend. We were at the end of the school corridor and now the chapter of reminiscences had closed too.
I came home finding the book on my old shelf, holding it with extreme care, caressing it and giving it an exact look a mother gives to her lost child found. Although, in this case, I had found something by getting lost.
The book is, "My English Teacher" by R K Narayan. Going to read it all over again, and this time, my dear teacher! I know why!!