“THE TIME IS TEN O’CLOCK,” bellowed the clock tower. Unflinching, the professor went on with his lecture and the class heaved a collective sigh of desperation. Ten more minutes, ten more minutes of a gruelling lecture binding me to my desk.
During this period of profound boredom, my mind took me elsewhere, to the “simpler times” when all forms of commitment and responsibility were still at their infancy; to a time that I thought was a bygone age.
Triiiiiiing…Tring… and there I was, riding my bicycle up and down the then i-street of the NITT staff quarters, with two little balance-wheels dragging along. The sunlight seeped through the branches of the mighty trees and the leaves rustled as the wind gushed by. And after 14 years, I could still see the jamuns and the mangoes fall.
Grrr…Grrr… grunted the bus. To the six-year-old me, this bus was a blue-and-white gargantuan that took a hundred of us to school. It was a place for making friends, a moving playground; a place for marvelling at the trees running backwards, holding my hand out the window and toying with the wind and flying in the air at every passing speed-bump.
“Dai!” called out the school headmistress, as the seven-year-old me ran along the corridor. “What did you have for lunch?” she asked, and without a moment of thought I said, “Tiger rice!” I chuckled at my childish self, at how I had fashioned the most dramatic of names for something as simple as tamarind rice, and how she calls me by that nickname to this day.
The day I met my best friend, the chess matches that I won against opponents touted to be tough in age categories well above mine, the bedtime stories that grandpa had in abundance, the Sundays when the whole family sat down together for a bout of chatter, the taste of grandma’s sweets and fritters playing around with my tastebuds — countless memories of pure bliss rushed before my eyes.
I watched myself grow, make choices and mistakes, from the adorable little devil to the man I am now (for better or worse, we’ll see). With each fleeting memory, I saw my friends leave by the tens. I watched helplessly as these friendships withered; the promises that were made to not forget the bond we shared for more than a decade, still ringing in my ears.
I saw them all, with emotions that cannot be described in any language but by that of the heart.
Alas! The bell rang. The mind that kept me distracted steadily through countless hours of lectures before, by force of habit got excited upon hearing the bell, awakening me from bliss. I looked around to find most of my friends in a deep slumber and a few of them nodding to the professor for some reason. I sneaked up behind my benchmate and shouted, “Sir, time’s up!”
The professor left (with much hesitation) and so did we (minus the hesitation), but unlike most of the class which was still drowsy, I left with a heart ever-so-light and a grin ever-so-wide.
As time pushes us forward in life, thrusting us into circumstances harsh or soft, we tend to lose quite a bit of what we were and what we had. It feels good to be reminded of them.
It is a marvellous thing, to be able to revisit memories that were long forgotten. It is an entirely different experience to live through them again; such were those ten minutes, the ten minutes that I’ll remember till the end of my days, the ten minutes that I’ll forever yearn to experience again.