The Promise9 mins 215 9 mins 215
It was when I used to study in the 12th standard in a modest hometown Dehradun. Dehradun is a beautiful city, located at the foothills of Himalayas. It is very well known for the educatuion hub and beautiiful hiil station Mussoorie, also known as the queen of hills. The prominent schools are the doon school, Welhams, Woodstock, St George’s in Mussoorie. But I have not studied in any of these reputed and expensive schools. I studied in an english school for the sake of name but the functionalites are not of that repute. my home was nearest to the school among all friends. We used to be the motley of 15-16 friends and used to compete each othr in studies, sports and extracurricular activities.
During 1990s, the Uttarakhand agitation was at it’s peak to carve out the separate state for the hill people from the erstwhile state of uttar pradesh. It was daily affair and schools and govt offices were supposed to be closed during such agitations. On one such fine day in 1993 when I was in class, the protesters came and forced the school authorities to declare off. as my home was nearest to the school and have a small field too where we could play cricket. So I was little more ecstatic and asked my fellow friends to go there directly to play.
As we were in the frenzy of this excitement I was oblivious of my surroundings, when one of my friends came and told me that a girl who was also our classmate was crying. I asked him what it had to do with me. Then what he told me there was not even an iota of that in my mind. He told me that I asked everyone to come to my home with me and she was also standing there and I ignored her. It is pertinent to tell here that during those days I was quite introvert person as far as talking to girls was concenrned. Moreover, it was taboo too due to my upbringing in a conservative family where even reading ‘india today’ considered as bad books leave alone others. May be because of that I had not asked her to visit my home.
When my friend told me to talk to her I was a bit irked as well as well as nervous. Still, I approached her and asked why she wa crying. She didn’t say anything for a while but kept on crying. On pestering, she said that I hate her and consider her untouchable for her medical complications. And I avoid talking to her even when I sit next to her in the class. She was crying incessantly which made me more nervous as everyone was watching. This was first time I got into such precarious situation.
Keeping my nerves intact I tried to explain her my faux paux and limitations and nervousness while talking to girls, leave alone inviting her to home. i also convinced her that I have no problem with her or her ailment. It took me quite sometime to console her and then from nowhere I uttered that ‘ whenever I will have house of my own, I promise, you will be the first person whom I would invite ‘. After saying this I felt so relieved for unknown reasons.
Time flies and we completed our school. Then took admission in college which was more or less a picnic place, no compulsion of attending classes. But I used to go regularly for excursion. Both all of us went to different streams but used to meet on and off in college. Once I got to go to her home on her birthday along with other friends, though I was quite shy and reluctant. When I met her parents I was surprised that they knew inside out about me and held me in high regard. She had told them that I am an intelligent boy, who shies a lot and how I got nervous on that day. the grandeur of her home was also making me nervous. I saw a lot of paintings on walls and signed by her which clearly tells she is an excellent artist too. Friendship continues.
In college we were in different streams so all the school mates now scatterd and made new friends and groups according to their convinience. So we all ran into each other at occasions. We graduated and then started a struggle for job. Uttarakhand is known for their hill people and their courage in armed forces and I was also not untouched by this. we used to qualify ssb many a times but alwyays got out in the end.
But eventually I qualified ssc exams for central armed paramilitary force and selected for central reserve police force (crpf). I joined more out of need then enthusiasm due to circumstances at home. It was not in my wildest dreams as a career as never heard of anything like crpf. I went for training to chennai for 48-52 weeks and passed out in may 1998. After brief posting in new delhi I was sent to assam along with my battallion. Those were the days when there were no means of communication and even landline telephones used to be a luxury. Assam was hit by insurgency and the state was boiling so much at that time even travelling within the state was quite dangerous itself. It was deadly for security forces. I sometimes managed to call my parents at my neighbor’s number or one of my friend if the lines were free and working as assam receives heavy rainfall and communication disrupted for many a days at a stretch. Even if the lines were working we used to call the nearest std booth from our only phone in control room in wee hours, who in turn used to dial at our home from other phone and get us the line by connecting both receiver and mouthpiece of two phones oppositely.
During these calls I came to know from one of my friend that she got married to an army officer and is going to be posted in assam only. at that time I was posted on the outskirts of guwahati which is 30 kms from railway station. I I decided to try to meet both of them. i got the telephone number of transit camp of army which is near guwahati railway station. I rang and told the details of her husband. They transferred the call and he picked the call and I simply said I want to talk to her, he gave it to her and when I told her that I am in guwahati, it turned out into a meeting plan which was going to be adventurous and memorable for life.
It was difficult for me to go to her place as the distance was 30 kms and most of the time there were bandh calls by militant groups and no plying of public transport. I managed to get a bike of one of my colleague and went there all alone making some outrageous excuse. When I reach there and met the officer he turned out to be one of the guys with whom I took ssb coaching when we got through the written examination, qualifying which he was in front of me donning the olive green. I couldn’t get through. It was love cum arranged marriage as the gentlman told me. We planned to go for an outing on myy bike, ofcourse triple ride in the guwhati market. It was such a fun to meet and do things which you never dreamed in your wildest dreams and that too in far flung areas.
We talked at length and relive all the school and c ollege memories including that day when we had that promise and our friendship started... That day the urge to own a house rose once again in me. She bought few things from market for her to be home during posting in tezpur, a town 100 kms from guwhati. After few hours I bid byes and returned back as it was going to be dark and its dangerous to travel in dark and moreover I was on a clandestine stint without informing my superiors.
I reached safely at around 5 pm before rollcall. I started saving money and seeing land for my draeam house. But still it was far fetched dream. Now due to insurgency we hardly had any communication for long.
In 2001 I got posted in Maharashtra and in the same year managed to grab a piece of land in dehradun which turned out to be disputed, and it became thorn in the flesh for me. Somehow managed to get rid of it. In 2003 I again purchaed a small plot with the help of my friends who are constants of my life till date and family. The prices of property were and are sky rocketing day by day due to the constitution of the new state of Uttarakhand in 2001. Due to shortage of funds I kept my plan of construction at bay for quite sometime. But as the luck woud have it, in 2006 i started construction with the support of one of my childhood architect friend. I approached him and he came up with a blueprint and budget which I could not afford but the determination to own the house was burning. After much discusssion and assessing my funds and loan from bank I went ahead with the plan but not without the help of my chuddy –buddy friends once again. I took a loan from bank and laid down the foundation of home to start the construction with the blessings of my parents and almighty.
Due to my postiing in far flung areas and due to shortage of funds the work was quite slow and in my absence looked after by my friends and brother. The architect friend had taken the contract of construction though he was not into this. By the year 2006, I had my house of dreams. This was the best moment of life and proud for my parents who had seen the toughest times and had spent living in a small room in a building inhabited by many families and full of chaos and quarrels. I thanked my friends and families who had helped me in achieving the most sought after dream.
I had not forgetted my promise yet in the frenzy of moment. I searched the number of my friend and came to know about her wherabouts. By that time mobile phones came in use. I rang her and told her that she is the first one to whom I am inviting to my own house, keeping my promise made some 13 years back. She was quite happy and a sense of pride in me of keeping my promise
She came but not immediately due to the posting of her husband in far flung areas. At last she visited and we reminiscense that day and that promise and a bond of friendship once again strenthened.
We have been friends still while writing this in 2019 and stood with each other in every thick and thin of life. She has two beautiful daughters with whom she ahd shared this anecdote and I visit her places of her posting if ever nearby or passing by. Her husband is now senior army officer and one of two role models.
I conclude this as below:
Keep the flame of friendship high and never let it die,
It gives you the happiness which money can’t buy.