15th April 2014
Today afternoon I had been to Wadala Math... a typical community hall. The husband's uncle had passed away, and today was the thirteenth day ritual ceremony . Usually it is he who attends such do's. He somehow juggles it into his schedule and makes time to be there. And that is one trait I really admire in him
Today was one such day when he wasn't in town. He knows me well enough .. so he didn't ask me to go. But I knew he would like it if I went... so I did.
I did not know too many people there, except for one cousin , who was the host. ...and she was busy attending to the other relatives.
I went up to her , spoke to her, and then found myself a chair to sink in.
There was a elderly lady sitting two places away from me .. familiar, yet, I could not place her.
In the meanwhile the cousin was introducing relatives to each other.... "This is Mrs H.. wife of our Dr H . We call her Mrs Doctor." she said of the elderly woman It was then that realization dawned.. It was S's mother. S was a classmate from school
S and me had a strange relationship in school. The girl had given me much grief. As also her mother.
S and me were both good students and nearly always scored the same marks, especially in primary school.
After examinations, an Open House would conducted in school, where parents could go through their child's answer papers and could interact with the teachers . S and her mom had that very competitive streak. S's mom would grab my answer sheet from my mum's hand, compare it with S's and then rush to the teacher..." Both have written the same answer... why did S get 1/2 a mark less". On one ocassion , the exasperated teacher warned my mom.. "Next time you show her your daughter's paper... I am going to minus your marks."
We graduated to secondary school. In class 8 , once while I was going over my class notes , before the class test, S came and stood in front of me. She waved her palm and fingers in front of my face, contorting them, much like a tantrik would while mumbling the "O Kali Calcuttey wali", and said, ..."Now you will forget everything you studied. You won't remember a thing."
I was horrified to say the least.
Another time, in class 9, I suffered from a very bad bout of jaundice which caused me to miss nearly a month of school. A very frail and a weak me, joined school after recuperation. S came in and hopped up and down, "I am so glad you fell ill and missed the classes.. No way will you be able to beat me now."
All through the years, memories of school would bring this one memory to fore. I didn't remember much of my school days (or so I thought) and yet remembered S and her mother. Every time I thought of S... there would be a heaviness in my chest...made me uncomfortable, very unhappy
S had that killer instinct. She had declared that she would be a doctor. I used to think of her sometimes.. and I would wonder....., though a part of me would be sure that she would have made her dream come true.
When we classmates met on FB, I had made up my mind that the day S joined the group, I would quit the school group. I did not think I was up to dealing with such unpleasantness once again.
Today I looked at the elderly woman.. There was none of the aggression I had remembered.
I went up and introduced myself. She was surprised... confused. It took her a while to connect the dots.
She spoke to me very affectionately...for having remembered her... "Yes, you all were children then and now are grown up... It's natural that you would recognize us, the parents. Nice of you to have come and spoken " . We talked about S, her siblings, their children and about mine. We related.. even as mothers.
Throughout the ceremony our eyes met several times and I found her staring at me, and each time , we smiled. Memories of a long time ago, bound us . It was a trip down the memory lane for the both of us.
I was glad I spoke to her... a great weight off my chest. My demon seemed exorcised.. I had held something against this woman.. She had seemingly forgotten everything... while I had carried the burden for so many years.... A moment, into our conversation and all the gloom in that corner of my heart was washed out. Replaced with a warmth.. even affection.
The woman to woman bond is much stronger... especially when there is no burden of expectations
While leaving the hall I said my farewell. She introduced me to S's dad... "This is A... our S's classmate... she was a very good student in school.. hushaar... S and she were always in close competition". And she smiled
That smile was one without malice.