I have indeed become Old

Few weeks back while driving in Calicut,something pricked me when I passed the Sarovaram Bio Park.It is situated at the Mini Bypass Road — on the way to Arayadathu Palam from Eranjipalam Junction.Two decades back,the plot where the bio park stays now was an exhibition ground.Weekend plans were either to roam in the S.M.Street or to go for an exhibition.The latter occurred only once or twice in a year — during the Christmas week and during summer vacation.So the demand was higher.A lot of vendors,circus groups and performers camped for a week or ten days.There will be everything from safety pins to furniture. Some families came with big-shoppers and filled their bags full.In school,we pinched each other and howled “same pinch” upon seeing same colored fancy pens/pencils in the hands of classmates.School boys calculatedly spent 12-hours at the exhibition to meet their crush(es).School girls went with their parents in the hope that they might see their guy.Love birds used the opportunity well.Parents shopped as much as they could.

In Calicut,the first mall came into existence in 2007.Focus Mall.People rushed into it as if the world will end the next day.Some people even told that Focus Mall was a realistic version of Orkut. We met our long-lost classmates,forgotten teachers,purposely avoided relatives and nosy family friends.Some people went to Focus Mall daily.Some others traveled from other end of the city to visit the mall.Shopping from Focus Mall became a matter of pride.A lot of people shopped only from the mall despite the frustrating crowd and the unnecessary waiting in the queues.People of nearby districts and places made one-day trip to Calicut to visit the mall.Taking guests to the mall was a proud moment.We boasted to every Manu,Binu and Vinu that the biggest mall in Kerala is in Calicut.But,the initial rage disappeared like whiffs of smoke in the air.People were bored with seeing people whom they know every time they go to the mall.People became bored with the crowd.And the rage slowly died.When newer malls came,people stopped going to Focus Mall.Last time when I visited the Focus Mall,there were hardly any crowd despite being a Saturday evening.

I truly wish those exhibitions and fairs at the temples were back.I miss the fun in riding on the giant wheel,I miss eating cotton candy and I miss those waiting-days.Or are these the symptoms of growing old?No matter what,those days were indeed golden.

 

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Once upon a time in my life

I started noticing and disliking guests after my brother was born. So many people come home, make my Mother cook, burp and go away. Every time guests come home, they would have a typical question to ask me, the four-year old then. Though I don’t know why they ask me such a question but somehow their questions were always answered. In the beginning my parents or grandparents would tell me the answer and I would repeat them. Then as I grew up I started answering the questions but my answers didn’t impress the guests.

The very often asked question was what I want to become when I grow up.

In Kerala, during early 90s, kids went to school in auto rickshaws and jeeps. jeepThe concept of school bus was implemented only in Kendra Vidyalaya. After going to school in auto rickshaw for three years, during my rest  of three years in Tirur I went to school in a jeep. The name of the driver name is Rashid and the name of the cleaner boy who closes the back door of the jeep and sits on the edge of the door isn’t in my memory. As I was the last one to get into the jeep, I get to sit next to the driver. It was a fun ride to make Rashid Ikka* race the jeep and get ahead of rest of the vehicles. We would shout “faster”, “faster” to encourage him. So the biggest dream was to become a jeep driver like Rashid Ikka. I promised my brother that I will take him to school when I become a jeep driver. The guests who came to my house weren’t impressed when I excitedly told them my ambition.Instead,they made fun of me telling that there aren’t any girl drivers who drove jeeps. I hated them even more. One day morning, when I got inside the jeep, the driver wasn’t Rashid Ikka. He told me to sit with the other girls behind the jeep. And I was disheartened and lost interest in becoming a jeep driver.Otherwise,who knows I would have come to your houses early morning in a jeep to pick up your kids.

12948435-astronaut-girl-over-sun-and-stars-backgroundSunday walks with my Father were an unbroken habit of my life until he got really busy and I got too bored of his talks. Every Sunday, the Father-daughter time that we had is worth making into a book. Unlike my Mother, my Father is a bad story-teller. But one day he told me an interesting story and that went on to become a noose for himself. He told me the story of Neil Armstong. Then I flooded him with doubts. How did Armstrong stand on the moon because the moon is in crescent shape? Did he fall from the moon because the moon is so thin? I liked Armstrong’s moon travel costume. One day I declared to my parents that I am going to Moon soon. As they were very kind to me, they appreciated my decision. As a 6 year old girl, I was proud of myself. My Father bought me posters of Moon and some books which explained Armstrong’s journey to the Moon. Like the Gru of the movie Despicable Me, I also dreamt about wearing a space costume and landing on the moon though the concept of oxygen and gravitational force didn’t make sense to me at all then. Later, I asked the doubt of the year which went like this. I’m flying from Earth to Moon in a spaceship. Earth and Moon are standing in the air. The concept of vacuüm wasn’t discovered in my life, so the Earth and the Moon stood in the air. Do you know what is below the Earth? I asked my Mother. She explained me about Space and planets and told me that below Earth, it is the Space. So if my spaceship falls off, then I will fall. Then where will I fall and land? You will not land on any surface but you will be floating, she replied. She did her best to teach me gravitational force and its concept but I was so adamant to find where I will land once I fall from the spaceship. My Parents gave upon me and I also gave up on my adventurous trip to the Moon. If only I had taken going to the Moon seriously, I would have become the first Indian (the first Mallu too) woman to land on the Moon. The history indeed lost a chance to keep my name on its leaflets.

We built our house, I mean my Parents built our house in 1996 and there was a discussion happening at home to choose a name for the house. Though a 5th STD girl’s opinion is not a big deal, but my Parents did ask my brother and I to tell us our choice of names.”Sachin!!” I screamed.”Sourav!!” my brother screamed. Then both of us started beating each other and rolling on the carpet. We kept shouting Sachin and Sourav the midst of the fight. For both of us, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were not mere cricket players. They were more important people than our family and friends. We prayed for Indian cricket team more than we prayed for ourselves. We knew every other information about Sachin and Sourav.girl_playing_cricket_CoolClips_vc038236

The 1996 cricket World Cup happened after we moved into our newly built house. If Indian team is not playing well, my brother and I would run to the Puja room. We cried badly when the Indian team lost matches. Whomever asked me about my biggest dream in life, the answer was very confident and clear – to be a Cricketer. I nagged my Mother to enroll me in the Calicut Sports Academy. Once I even went to fast as a protest for not enrolling me for cricket. The 1996 world cup semi-final was a great blow to me. Those days, though I read about bribe in the Newspapers, I really didn’t understand the meaning of it. Day and night the only thought was to take revenge against Sri Lanka as they were the ones who beat us in the semi-fnals. There was a recurrent dream which I will never forget. The semi-final match is going on. The Sri Lankan team challenged India that if one randomly chosen person could score so and so runs in an over, then India will win. The floodlight fell on me and the camera shot me closely. Sachin poured his blessings over me and I played for an over and made India win the semi-final. Today when I look back I can’t believe that I truly had such a dream.

The dreams and ambitions changed a lot more times in the course of the time.But, one thing makes me sad. Those days, when somebody asks me what I want to become in life, at every phase I had a clear answer. Today if somebody asks me the same question, then I have to think hard for an answer. Damn, we all grew up.

 

*Ikka – as Tirur is a Muslim populated area, the word Ikka is suffixed with the men’s name to address him as elder brother

 

 

To Riyaz Sir,With love

I eagerly stared at the door of the classroom that morning. It was a very cold morning as the Kerala rains have never failed to arrive exactly on the day school reopens after the summer vacation. The newly stitched school uniform has already got wet and the classroom became the podium for the monsoon sneezes and coughs.

I heard about him through my senior friends who had studied in the new school which I joined for my 11th and 12th standard. On the first day of my 11th standard class, I felt as if I was eagerly waiting to watch a movie for which I heard rave reviews. Students talked about him with so much love and respect and he was the only reason to join a new school after my 10th standard. I knew his name but I wasn’t sure whether he would be my class teacher.

The first thing which I did after reaching the school was to enquire to the peons who my class teacher was. I checked the list pasted on every class room door of the first floor of the school.Finally,I saw the list on which I saw his name next to the column Class Teacher – Riyaz.K.I immediately searched for my name in the students list and my joy saw no boundaries.

I kept on staring at the door and a short man, in a checked shirt, walked into the classroom with a smile. After his first class, I agreed with my friends who talked about him. He taught us computer science transpicuously that I realized my innate liking towards algorithms and programming.

Though his beard gave him a serious look, it was just a camouflage to make students feel him as a strict teacher. If I, along with so many other students, ever had the urge to explore algorithms and programming, he was the reason behind such a craving.

It took only minutes to become his pampered kid which I still consider as a personal pride. But my heart did miss a beat when the list of students for his 12th standard class was announced. I listened sharply to the names of the students he was reading out and I didn’t hear my name. I looked at him and he threw back a smiling wink and read out my name in the end and I sighed.

He taught us only for two years as we had to move on with our lives after 12th standard. It has been ten years after stepping out of the school but his love and care for the students never ceased.

Toast to the man who taught me algorithms and programming,

to the man who taught me what simplicity is,

to the man who stood down to earth even being rich in knowledge,

to the man who stood beside me like a Father during my downtimes,

to the man who joined me like a Friend for every prank I did,

to the man who gave me all the freedom and support in school, 

to the man who gave me the support and encouragement to grow up in life,

to the man who has spread knowledge and happiness in the lives of numerous students.

Happy Teachers Day, Riyaz Sir!!

No more in your class but I will be always your student.

With lots of love,

Yet another student of yours