Silence Kills, Speak Up

Silence can be deceptive. Speak up, you may never get a chance to say what you wanted to.

School Days

[This piece of fiction connects to the days which every individual loves to get back to. The days we always cherish and the incidents which now may appear to be trivial were of the most matured events for us at the beginning of adolescence. Here is an attempt to step back and have a look at the very similar events which we too have experienced at some point of time. The School Days! ]

She looked like an angel. Their eyes met and she gave him a usual smile that had made his heart skip its beat years ago. He neither expected the smile nor did he expect skip of a beat. No doubt he had his excitement to see her after 7 long years. That’s what brought him to the reunion party of his batch at school. He had never attended this event all these years. But this time the reason was quite obvious.
She was getting married next year. This would be her last visit for the reunion. She has never missed a single reunion party after school got over. But this time she didn’t want to attend it. A strange feeling crossed her mind. It was in the morning 9.30 that she realized. She had to reach school by 11am. But this strange feeling of anxiety made her a bit reluctant. Did she hear Ravi saying the other day that Abhinav was coming for this reunion for the first time? But why then is he flying from London only for this event while he never came for the reunions earlier when he was in the same place?
It was after pretty long time that Abhinav was back from office at 8pm. The last whole year had been truly over scheduled. Having got a chance to prove himself, he didn’t wish to let it go this time. It’s been quite hectic for him but he loved to over stress himself. Not because he liked it but he believed in keeping himself so busy that he had no time for other thoughts to cross his mind which he was afraid of. He just wanted to let go off the past. His only belief that he should be busy enough to have no time left through out the day made him work harder and when it came to the end of the day, only thing that his mortal body looked for was a place to lie down in the arms of stress. Lying on the bed he just remembered how busy he had been since he left college. But what went wrong? Why was he so busy? What for? Queries uncountable crossed his mind suddenly. The feeling of restlessness took him to the huge windowpane. He could feel the cold through the glass pane. London looked spectacular from the 22nd floor of his apartment. As he slid the window, a gust of wind kissed him making his specs go blurred. It even made the survival of the warm flame difficult at the fire place. But this didn’t move him. He was lost in thoughts of the chat that he had with Nilima two hours back.
She was late. She finally decided to attend the party. It was her last visit and she didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet all her old pals for the last time. After all they were the people who had stood alongside her during the thick and thin times of these 7 years. Not to forget the worst phase of life after school. She reached late and it was a delight for everyone to see her. There were those smiling faces and big laughs over the childhood days. Sitting under the big Mango tree they all discussed those childish acts of theirs. Those small fights and big pranks had become memorable for everyone who was part of it. Behind every small thing that they discussed there lived some good old memories which could easily bring out tears in the smiling faces at regular intervals. For Rajni it was a treat to be there and be a part of such a batch which was one of the best ones in the school so far. But her eyes were searching for someone. She knew he would be there. Ravi would not lie to her for any reason. But she wondered why she was anxious.
Abhinav arrived but he was late, for his car broke down on the way. But everyone was really feeling great meeting him after 7 long years. They knew he would be there this time and somewhere everybody thought he had changed a lot since he left. No calls and contact from his side had made everybody think that he was no more their same Abhinav. But meeting him, these all doubts were cleared when they saw the same old shy and charming Abhinav. It was just that he had grown tall with a wide smile that he rarely used to have. Someone said "Hey Abhi, you needn’t stand in front of the queue anymore during the assembly!!" That made everyone burst out laughing. Even Rajni did have a good laugh and when everyone went together for the lunch their eyes met and she had the same smile. How could he forget the smile that had drawn many guys of the school to woo her from the same batch as well as the seniors?
As everybody went ahead with the lunch and chit chats of the most memorable days, Abhinav chose to go around the school and firstly to the room where he had completed his grade X. As he moved along the corridor every thing flashed back. Though it had been 7 long years that he visited his school but that was not big enough for his memories to be blurred. He could remember his first day in school. He, in his 6th grade had to shift school for his dad’s transferable job. Though he never wished to change his school but there was nothing he could do about it. He had to come along leaving behind the past. When he crossed the principal’s room he remembered how he was assigned his class as VI-A and his roll number as 16. That was his identity for his day to start. The heavy new bag, full of new books were heavy enough for him to carry. He had no excitement but a fear while he was escorted to his classroom by the attendant who ruthlessly showed him his classroom and informed the teacher about the new student with roll number 16. He wondered what his parents would do after going back to their new home from the principal’s room. He wished he could join them and be a part of all the fun of unloading and of course settling of things. For him, who was a child of age 11, it was all fun to run around with his new BMW car (of course playing loudest horns even if there was nothing to stop his car) in the magical flat which was actually speaking whatever he spoke. This thought brought about a big smile on Abhinav’s face on his own innocence. Looking back at the principal’s room he moved along to take the stairs to the first floor.
Every step that he took gave him millions of memories and he could feel the excitement now, which he never had on his first day. He kept on smiling like a crazy person. His smile had by then turned into an open hearted laughter when he realized that it was after such a long time that he himself couldn’t make out how long was it. As it was winter vacation for the students, there was no one in the school except him and his batch mates. He had never seen school to be so silent and lonely. His laughter slowly died out as he passed through VI-A. He could see through the glass pane the first bench near the door where he sat for next one year after he was left all alone by that rude attendant at the hands of some brutal lady who perhaps seemed to be the strictest teacher in the school. Well, by the time he could imagine all the fun at home, roll call had started and he started to pay attention when it reached roll no 9, 10 and 11. Just a halt and suddenly he heard someone say ‘dude…enough of sight seeing…come and have your lunch…we are having loads of fun and of course girls are missing u a lot…where are u lost yaar?’ ‘Just a few minutes bro…I’ll be right back..carry on and I promise I would join you people in no time..and yeah thanks for the news about all the girls ;)" , he said. Just then, he saw Rajni in the ground floor. Ignoring her and trying to get back to his sweet memories he moved ahead.
Rajni, who had been to school every year and even more than once a year during these seven years, could actually understand what must have been going through Abhinav’s mind. She could feel the pain in his heart. His reasons for not coming to school after he left no one knew but it was she who had known everything though he hadn’t even contacted her after that. Just that she had known Abhinav since the day he came to school, Rajni knew him very well. Though she had visited school quite regularly in the past but she too was quite nostalgic about her days in school. She was nervous about her new life that was going to begin. There were these other things which didn’t actually keep her connected to the discussions around her. Everybody by now had actually got down from the mode of fun and frolic. Everyone was having their lunch and topics regarding school days had started. People were discussing all the happenings, their experiences of life after school, their new friends, new relationships, the new people they met and how they were moving ahead with the fast paced life. Then there were talks of few people who had already got married and those who couldn’t make it to the event for their personal constraints. There were innumerable talks on various topics which covered everything under the sky including politics and the new generation people. The mood was set for a good time for the whole day. It had been really fun and fantabulous for everyone.
But, on the other hand seriously immersed in his own thoughts and childhood memories, Abhinav walked along and passed by all the class rooms, sports room, staff room, store room, labs where he had spent years of his childhood, his uninterrupted days of fun with his playful friends his lovable teachers who gradually became his best teachers of the lifetime. Ticking of each second in the watch gave him bliss and never ending happiness. He wished if time could halt and he would have another chance to relive his school life. He wondered why every grade he studied was of only one year duration. Why not two or more? He had moved into his childhood innocence and finally when he reached his class X-A, it was all volatile. He was in some other world of his own. He didn’t know what he was trying to do. Where he was heading to? It meant no sense. He just wanted to be there and feel the days which were the last days of his school life. He knew its importance because it was his 10th grade that changed his life significantly though not completely as he had thought when he was in his adolescent. He stood there in front of the door and helped himself in. That was the room where he had lived the best days of his life. He was facing his past in this beautiful set up once more. He moved across the green board through all the desks and benches observing closely each and everything as if he was going through the past itself. He could identify his seat. Moving his hands across the desk, he slowly sat down getting all his nerves under control.
He was lost in his world when he could hear sound of foot steps drawing closer to the room and he could see Rajni standing at the door. Before he could speak anything Rajni walked slowly into the room and he looked with astonishment.
‘Hi Abhi…How are u??’ ‘I’m fine…but how come you are here?’ he reverted back in a hurry.
‘Yes Abhi I know, you must be surprised to see me here and supposedly it’s after such a long time that we are meeting for which you could forget that we are still friends and you didn’t…’
Abhinav interrupted her and said ‘Look Raj, I don’t want to discuss what I have left behind in the past. But anyways, heard you are getting married. Congratulations!’ He was surprised to have asked this question by himself. He was trying to make her comfortable and change the topic but he realized that he had made it worse.
‘Thanks and yeah I’m getting married this March.’, she said and could not look into his face. Turning her head away she started ‘Yeah, his name is Sekhar and he is a businessman in Mumbai. It’s an arranged marriage!!’
Though Abhinav had every detail of it before he reached in Pune, but he didn’t let her know about it. ‘Oh!! wow…that’s great…I hope you are happy with your parents’ decision and you are looking forward to it.’ ‘Of course yes Abhi and being my best friend you can definitely understand my circumstances.’ This sounded like a shock for Abhinav. He couldn’t believe what his ears were hearing. Best Friends was something which he had again never expected.
The first day at school, he had seen the most bubbly, naughty girl during the roll call when she had responded to 11. As the days had passed by, Abhinav had found it tough to connect to his new school. Though he had started interacting with few students, but he still didn’t have the greatest of times. It was then that he had got a new friend named Rajni whose sweet and cute smile had always made him feel good about their friendship which had blossomed quickly into a very strong bond between them. He always considered Rajni as his best friend but he was not sure of the same from the other side.
‘Hey Abhi, are you here???’ ‘Yups’, breaking from the thoughts he said. As he looked into her eyes, she could not keep her calm. She burst into tears as if these were held since long for this moment. Abhinav was awestruck with this and tried to console her for what had happened. But again he could not do anything because he himself was in tears as he knew he was facing his past in his present. He had to do so and he was prepared for it. But he never knew that he would fall weak. In all this, Rajni who had lost her control tried to regain herself and spoke.
‘Abhi, I would like to say sorry for everything that I have done in the past. I know you would never forgive me for that but I am guilty of everything. I know that you always considered me as your best friend. But I had never realized it before. I should not have hurt your emotions.’
Now Abhinav broke free and asked ‘Then why did you do that Raj…why? Why did you accept my love when you knew you had no feelings of that sort? Was it all fake when you went for my proposal in 10th? Oh! God…what a fool I was. I understand that it was too childish at that moment but how could you not think once when you had no feelings for me? You could have said me the truth that you and Subhasis liked each other. Subu was my best friend yaar…how could you both think that I won’t understand?’
‘Yeah, your anger is justified Abhi, but Subu never wanted to hurt your emotions and thus he never said me about his feelings too. And more over as you know, we were very good friends as you and I. After he came to know about your feelings for me and your proposal to me, he had asked me not to break his best friend’s heart. If you remember Abhi, initially I had not said a yes to you because I never had such feelings for you. But it was your best friend and also my best friend Subu who was ready to make the sacrifice keeping everyone in dark. On his conviction that I can always trust you with your feelings and compulsion that I too had the same feelings for you which I was unaware of made me think twice for you. I tried to create feelings and thus I had agreed with Subu to go with your emotions. Abhinav I know it would hurt you but truly speaking I had no feelings for you whatsoever. But hurting you was never my intention. What I didn’t want to lose is your friendship. I didn’t want that shy, charming new comer of our class to lose himself like the time when he had come to our school. I always knew that you were very truthful with your emotions and therefore I tried to love you from the core of my heart. But during those three months of our getting together, I came to know about Subu’s sacrifice. My kinder garden friend, who had been there for me every time, was losing his own control. He was completely lost and I could see love in his eyes which he always hid from me. But how could I let go of my own emotions for him as well. Deep down me too liked roll number 9 very much. I had always required Subu in anything I wanted. This realization of my feelings made me guilty. I didn’t want to hurt you in anyway. Therefore I had decided to break up with you. But I didn’t have the guts to tell you all this at that time. I was hurt myself and wanted to make everything right. I could not help you either in this matter because Abhinav what I knew was that you too loved me as much I loved Subu. As I said I had no intention to hurt you, so I kept myself away from you thinking you might get over these feelings finding me not worth. But by the time passed in 10th grade, Subu and I had already come to know about each others feelings. At this, I know you were hurt the most and there were misunderstandings between you and Subu as well. He also was hurt for this and wanted to make everything clear. Remember Abhi, after 10th when you had come for our first reunion party and on the New Year day Subu had said you that he wanted to say you something? This was all he wanted to say but he couldn’t. He was afraid that may be he would lose your newly regained friendship. Thus he kept quiet. He had said that he would say it all to you someday very soon in the near future but he hardly knew that he was left with only few days after that.’ She burst out saying this and Abhinav was also in tears since long as he had been hearing every word of Rajni. He tried to control himself but he was in complete shock. Yes, he knew about Subhasis’s accident that became the most tragic day of his and everyone’s life. It was then that he had moved to Delhi and he could not even come for the last rituals. But after that he had never come back for any reunion and he had never understood Rajni. He had always misunderstood Rajni. But hearing all this, his soul melted down like a candle burning himself deep within. He was in complete distress. The agony that he had been in, since 7 years, got converted into tears. He cried like a child. Before he could speak anything Rajni continued with tears rolling down her eyes and her voice choking with every word. But she had to speak up. Because even silence can be deceptive! She continued to speak out, for you may never get a chance to speak what you feel, ever again.
‘Abhinav, I just wanted to tell you these things because somewhere I feel guilty for everything that has happened. May be God has punished me by taking my Subu away from me, for all that I had done to you in the past. I had never thought this could be my fate. I am really sorry for hurting you and your emotions. I never had any intention to hurt you but this is how everything had turned out to be.’
Now Abhinav had controlled himself and tried to interrupt Rajni. Tears were still rolling down his eyes but he could realize what would be going through Rajni. Regaining himself he said, ‘Rajni, you need not be sorry for anything. There was no fault of yours. If I look at everything closely then it is you who has gone through all the pain. It is you who has lost the most. It is you who was in all dilemmas. You know Raj, after I came to know about your and Subu’s emotions, I never wanted to hurt two of my best friends. I never knew how much I matter in your lives but you two had always been the most important part of my life. My life in school had found new meaning for you two only. It was that tragic incident that I had decided to leave my past behind. But this time, I got to know about your marriage and I was really happy to know that you have left the past behind. Raj, I just wanted to congratulate you for this and I wish you to be happy. Sometimes, you need to forget the past and think 'jo hota hai ache ke liye hota hai'. You can either be a whimp or a warrior. I have always seen you as a warrior who was never moved by any setback. I want you to get up and be bold enough to face the world. And please don’t worry about me, because I am very happy the way life has taken me. I request you not to feel guilty about anything and not to think that you have ever hurt me. Can friends hurt each other? Aren’t we a reason to smile for each other? You have always been a great friend and will always be one for me. Anyways tell me how your Mr.Smart is and yeah keep your tears in store for your marriage dear.’ Hearing this Rajni smiled back and with tears still in her eyes flowing down with a single motive to lose their identity once they move through her face. Abhinav wiped off her tears, and asked her to go ahead and live the new beginning of her life.
As they looked out through the window pane of the classroom they realized that it had started becoming dark and dusk was fast approaching. They got up from their small seats, where they had those memorable days and walked towards the door. As they moved forward and reached the door, Abhinav looked back at the whole room and felt a sigh of relief and took a deep breath with closed eyes thanking it to have given him the best days of his life. He felt himself to have given away with all anger, agony and frustration. He could feel a new beginning to his life exactly like the last day in school when he had a beginning to his life while leaving it. But this time he could realize how years have passed by.
As they both walked down stairs to join their other friends, Rajni congratulated Abhinav for all his achievements and success over these seven years and asked him to get himself a beautiful wife and be settled. Abhinav had smiled back and without regret agreed and said a big yes. They both reached where their other friends had settled down and without notice got themselves back into their group.
With not much questions, others too realizing the situation, got along with their fun and Abhinav also decided to come back for every reunion party in the future. He felt the beauty of childhood relationships which are more strongly bonded than the ones that we create or get later on in our lives. He had this realization that school days were the best days of his life however good or bad experiences it had brought with it. But school days are the building blocks to any person’s life.
School Days…School Days….School Days !!!!!!!!!

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