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E-Pao! Incidents - Life is a Journey - I

Life is a Journey - I
Three places that I cannot forget
By: Takhellambam Anjan*



Life is a journey, make it meaningful.... This is probably an old maxim and I am sure I still have not reached even halfway. The going however has been really interesting with all the encounters I had at different places with different people. I am in particular reminded of three places.

It was sometime in the summer of '89. There were these two boys in my class. They were my pals, Siddhartha and Ronald. My association with them was not very long in St. Joseph's school, Imphal but the vivid snapshots of the time I spent that summer are still fresh in my mind.

Siddhartha, who was distinctly too fair for a boy had this habit of biting and chewing the skin off his finger tips. He was from some leikai in Chingamakha which I cannot remember. He was a jovial character.

The other pal, Ronald was more serious and had an air of intensity and deep-seated sorrow hung about him always although at times he would come out of that cocoon. We never questioned his reserved behavior and he liked both of us. He lived somewhere in tera close to Oriental College.

We were all moderately intelligent in the class and despite our varied natures we all had a common pastime. During the lunch break we loved taking walks to PTC (boarding extension of school), through a small pathway that overlooked the paddy fields on one side and the school boundary on the other.

The piercing shrill sound waves that emanated from the electric bell at noon was like the final call for all the restless students who would rush out of the doors like a sea of countless heads so alike and would create quite a scene of pandemonium and havoc. It was like their ultimate declaration to breach all the codes and conduct they were compelled to observe in the presence of an authoritative cane wielding teacher.

The lunch break was an affair of rushing to the canteen for most of the kids or to the store room for football or carom boards. For the three of us it meant a very soothing walk while nibbling those fifty paisa moreh achar.

Most of the time we preferred to remain hungry and take the walk rather than going to the canteen and struggling to get the order. It was like a war zone and only the stronger ones or the adamant ones could manage to claim the prized delicacies.

I really do not remember the conversations we used to have while walking but I can still perceive the joy that comes as you take the first stride starting right from the small gate which was a separator between the school and boarding campus. The boarding was small with few buildings, the church being the most prominent one. There was a sty for pigs, a pen where roosters of all varieties were kept and paddy fields on either sides of the pathway from the gate to the church.

One particular break we came out of the class and instead of taking our usual route which we never needed to mention to each other, Ronald started walking towards the main gate. Bhaai kadomdanone...? It came out in unison from the two of us. He did not say anything and before we could stop him he had reached the gate.

His mother was waiting there. She had a weary look in that summer heat holding a pink color umbrella on one hand and a tiffin carrier on the other, anxieties all over the face. We heard her shouting "namannaba singa chaminau ko" as my friend hastily walked away from her carrying the tiffin.

Maybe he was little uncomfortable with the little boy image portrayed by his mother in front of us. But we saw only the home cooked food and it was a very rare occasion as nobody used to get such treatment. We ran upto him and before he could apologetically say "bhaai ngasi ayukta chara wanba nang haodare" we just pulled him down.

There three of us even without paying any heed to the volley of advices from a worried mother sat down in the middle of the field and hogged to our hearts' content chak kangshoi thongba and kanghau. It was very subtle and plain food but I can tell you that was one of the best luncheon I ever had in life. Perhaps that's what they call as the law of diminishing marginal utility in Economics.

I left St. Joseph's the following year as I had cleared the admission test of this residential school supposedly called as R.K.Mission, situated at a place called Deoghar in erstwhile Bihar and now Jharkhand.

I was excited with the idea of studying in a boarding school away from home and completely ignored the tough life that was to come yet. I got so drowned in that short lived fame and glory of cracking the test that it never occurred to me that I will have to severe that bonding with my old pals and start afresh all over again with new people who probably would not even speak Manipuri.

The last time I saw my pals was when the final exams results were declared and I went on my BSA-SLR to collect the report card from school that winter. I never heard anything about them after that and have no clue what they are doing now...

... continued here.


* Takhellambam Anjan , a resident of Bangalore, writes regularly to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at anjan_takhel@yahoo.co.in
This article was webcasted on November 30th 2005.



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