There was a time in Kerala when every Suresh,Ramesh and Mahesh had relatives who are working/settled in Dubai.Those years could be even called as “Gulf Boom” or “Foreign Boom”.It was similar to the IT boom.Like the increase in number of software engineers,there was an increase in number of NRIs during late 80s. Jobs were blue-collar jobs but still working in Dubai was a matter of pride.Even some parents used to give more commission to the marriage brokers to get their daughters married to “Dubaikaran” (Dubai guy).
Note: In Kerala,””foreign” means Gulf and Gulf means Dubai.
So because of this so-called “Gulf Boom” most of the people in Malappuram became rich all in a jiffy.They had huge mansions built-in no matter of time and latest cars in front of their houses to show their FAT bank balance.Hence in my school too, I could see the after effects of this change.
The unfortunate part was,I had no relatives living in the “Gulf”.
In my 1st std and 2nd std,I was too much fascinated by the nice and cute school stationery the kids got from their NRI dad or uncle or whomever.Among the pile,there was a pencil ;yellow with black stripes.That was my favorite.I used to love writing with it.I even had a feeling that my handwriting was at its best when i wrote with this pencil.
Days and months passed.I made my Mother hunt for this “special” pencil but she didn’t give me any good news.Once I cried and made my mom take me out for shopping on a Saturday evening.We went to almost all the shops in Tirur searching for the pencil.I tried my best inquiring my parents whether we had some relatives in Dubai.I made them think so hard to find out some way to get this pencil. But then realized I was an unlucky duck.
Years passed and I grew up.The charm of that yellow pencil faded when parents diverted the fantasy to some other stationery.
Then after some five or six years,in a Duty Free Shop I saw this pencil at the TBS book stall at Calicut. I can’t explain what was going inside my mind then.I took it and read STAEDTLER written on it in golden letters.I was about to buy it but I don’t know what made me reluctant.I just took it from the bowl,looked it once, and kept it back.
I was not feeling good when I got out of the shop.
Later,after my 10th std board exams,while I was completely jobless,I remembered the pencil and the shop.I told my Father to get it for me that day itself.I got the pencil that night.I was extremely happy like a kid.
Then after dinner,I wrote with that pencil,but I couldn’t feel any visible difference in my present handwriting.Moreover I didn’t feel anything special.I felt writing with just another pencil.I even felt that the usual Nataraj pencil is better than this NRI one.What happened to me?Then I realized,it was all childhood fantasies.But I still have that pencil bought on that day with me.I have no particular reason for it be there in my school trunk;may be childhood bonding.