The time is 5:30 pm. I am walking towards Press Club. I see PKR Sir coming. He says: “How is it going? How come you are breaking practice?”
“You have come on time for class”
I walk into the building wondering how bad I must have been smelling with all that sweat. I enter the library. I see classmates, friends. I give them some cutlets I got on the way. We share it, laugh at something. Then someone says it is Saraswathy Madam’s class today. Oh-oh where are the papers I ask aloud. I grab one and start reading. Someone has written that Prakash Karat would treat a patient with cancer by giving a band-aid. I start to laugh aloud, realize my classmates are not there anymore. Oh-oh late again?
I dash up the stairs: that was indeed practice unbroken: a privilege only the latecomers get to enjoy. The classroom. Whew, the teacher is not there yet. We start talking. The usual topics come up: unimportant everyday affairs, nonsensical ideas, really bad jokes, and more really bad jokes. I get out for water. The tap misbehaves – starts pouring out water after I close it. I give out a scream seeing the water hit the floor. It went ‘Uhhh ehhhh uhhh ehhh’ – the scream not the water. The teacher comes exactly at that point. She smiles. I smile. I enter the class. I try frantically to find the ceiling fan regulator (now there maybe some who say I am obsessed with electric switches, but I deny it!). It is unfortunately behind the door. And exactly when I find it, the teacher opens the door. “Bam” (or do you say boom? What’s the crashing sound these days?)
Class starts. Feature writing. Teacher is quoting an example: about the different kind of fevers these days. Chicken flu, pig flu, tomato flu (she says in Malayalam: koli pani, panni pani, thakaali pani). Each time I hear her say “thakaali pani” (tomato flu) I laugh aloud. I believe she uses it to rhyme with the others and there is in fact no such fever. It had to be a joke and I look at her face appreciatively: what a sense of humour. Why is no one else laughing though? By the fifth time I start wondering. My friend explains: “Tomato fever is real. It is when you get red bumps on your body.”
Class is over. We walk out. It is only 7 yet. For a few minutes we hang around the entrance steps talking aloud cause we seem to believe that those steps were created with only one purpose: to stand on and shout.
Waving goodbyes, friend and I decide to walk. We walk one full lap to come back to press club – the familiar roads, shops that call out to you “You don’t want an unniyappam today?”, the fading twilight, the glowing streetlights, the night that gets ready to barge into the day, the familiar breeze that hits you – all the rest of it that you have taken for granted over time. It is part of your life now, this is how evenings were spent for a year now.
Not for long. This is the last month of classes. And then we have exams. After next month, it would all stop: a walk in that street, a gathering in the entrance, an idle chat with the teachers, a chair in the class to sit with people you knew so well, and a casual rush up the stairs like it was your very own place…
Do memories work as good as living the moment? Maybe it will. Lets hope so.