It was almost three decades that I had been fruitlessly trying to track this guy down. We went to school together from fifth to tenth grade. Then during our engineering days, I had visited him and his roommate Pratik once. Way later, when I was working in Bombay, he had come and stayed with me for a couple of days. And then for 26 years, it has been radio silence. I had come close to tracking him down many times and shot emails or left voicemails at what I was given to understand might be his email and phone number. No responses, whatsoever!!!
About five months back, Mrs. Godura gave me a tip that Amit was going to be at her daughter’s place and gave me her daughter’s contacts. And that was how the elusive person was finally nailed. I remember having a very long conversation that day catching with him as he drove down the highway to his home city. Amit readily admitted that he had become a recluse and was trying to get out of that.
This morning, I was able to see him finally! After so many years! Actually after too many years! What was to be an hour or hour and a half meeting was going strong even after three and a half hours. We could have easily gone for another three and half an hours if I did not have to go and meet my daughters!
Sitting at that coffee shop, we went thru an endless cycle of :
Step 1: Amit: “Do you remember so-and-so?”. It would be a friend from our class or a teacher.
Step 2: Rajib… rambling on some updates of the person and appearing distracted doing something on this phone. Finally he hands the phone to Amit saying “Here is a picture. I visited him/her a couple of years back”
Step 3: Amit, completely silent, zooms the picture and recognizing another friend or teacher after so many years is totally overcome by emotion. The emotion of remembering some of the moments of the past was easily discernible in his voice and eyes.
And we we would repeat the above steps over and over again…
It was hilarious for me to hear how Amit remembered some of his early childhood days. Especially how he would skip a bus stop so that he had a chance of seeing the girls (we were in a all boys school and there was a parallel all girls school) from Carmel school who would be walking home. But what he feared most was if any would try talking to him. Apparently, he was totally scared of talking to any of girls!!!
Thank you Amit for making time on a Saturday morning – driving up to the city to see me and spend so much of your time with me. It was a marvelous throwback to the years where we would sit in benches next to each other in our grey shorts and white shirts with that “Like Gold in a Furnace” emblem emblazoned across our pockets… 1977, as i recollect, we did it for the first time… we were clueless then… and if today’s discussion on pursuit of happiness four decades later is any indicator… we were clueless now too.
But blissful, all the same.
And that counts.