It all started with a phone call…
5:14 am : *Zhhuummnnn**Zhhuummnn*Zhuuummnnn* (Half-asleep) Is my phone vibrating? (Observes)….Naaa….
No, my phone is really vibrating! Kunwar? Why is he calling so early? “Hello?” and a just-awake voice on the other side replied, “Dude are you coming to play basketball?” My idle brain asked,”Only the two of us?” This time he sounded a little more conscious and said, “I made Raj to wake up, Harry is coming as well. Are you?” I don’t want to get up I thought and replied, “yyeeaahh” let me lay down for a few more minutes. Now Kunwar sounded excited, “Great, meet us at the entrance in exactly 10 minutes.” And I resumed my dream from where I left. After 5 minutes, somewhere deep inside my brain I heard something. BOOM. Wait, did Kunwar just called me and told me that HE IS AWAKE! And so are other two sleeping beauties? I don’t believe this! I quickly jumped to my feet. And senses.
(Ask any student or teenager in the world how hard it is to get up early on a freeze-you-to-death winter morning. Being completely aware of the conditions, we were planning to play basketball and also joking that not a single one of us would get up the next day. So, when Kunwar called in the morning, I was surprised to know that all the snoozers were awake.)
After 15 minutes, I reached the gathering point where Harry and Kunwar were waiting with a airless Basketball and a air pump. Somewhere in the dark, the human figure of Raj was also moving towards us. With half-closed eyes and half open brains, we were all very happy that we finally made it. After chatting for a while and joking around, we finally went towards the gate. IT WAS CLOSED! We knocked twice but no one answered. So we thought we should break in and tell the gatekeeper that we want to play. There is only a tall wall dividing my house and the school. Throughout my childhood I have been going to that playground but I never used the gate. And today as well we opted for the traditional method.
I was jumping off that stupid wall after 2 years and all my childhood memories engulfed my consciousness. Nostalgia. Lost in those memories, I reached the other side with Raj, Harry and Kunwar following. Then suddenly Raj said that there is a dog in the shadows. For a moment that figure seemed pretty much convincing and I got scared but after looking closely , I realised it was just a plant. Raj Kumar Sharma forgot his glasses at home! PHEW!
The sky was still pitch black. With no intensions of finding the watchman, we went to the basketball court and started pumping air into the basketball. Busy in, “remember we used to play cricket” and such similar conversation, we didn’t realise the watchman was up and observing us. The air pump was not working and it was making a lot of noise. Then we saw the watchman coming out of a dark corridor. The outline of his body against the dim light itself seemed to be shouting out loud that, “I am ANGRY!!!” By the time he reached us, the four of us were standing in a semi-circle, facing him and it seemed as if 8th grade girls were about to sing their group song with the watchman being the mike.
What followed, seemed completely like a criminal interrogation. The mischievous of us all, Raj started with his stories. He convinced him that 1) We are students in the school (even though it was a high school and the four of us have completed the high school, also none of us ever studied there) 2) We have the permission of Phy. Edu. teacher (whose name he didn’t know). But there he made a mistake. He told the watchman that I live in the neighbourhood. Hearing that, he was all guns and missiles against me. What started as a group song became a solo performance with only me in front of the mike(watchman) and rest of the guys standing behind him and laughing. He was saying something regarding morals and stuff which I didn’t care to listen because I was having a hard time controlling my laughter and the faces of my friends were making it even more difficult. After the speech, the guard neither asked us to leave nor did he say that we could play. He didn’t even unlock the gate as well. As the air pump was not working, we decided to leave. So we went back from where we entered, smiling and laughing, just like old times.
Now it was around 6 am and going back home was completely useless, so we started roaming around the town. Actually, I didn’t realise at that time, our get-together can also be called as a re-union as the four of us were together after almost three years. Having nothing to do, we took the usual morning walk route and after that, we lost the track of time. Kunwar turned on the music on his cell phone, while all the temples and gurdwaras were playing hymns on the speakers, we talked about almost everything. The conversion ranged from girls, old classmates, old batch-mates, some more girls, current affairs, affairs,movies, Harry joining the gym, Kunwar not going to college, Raj’s girlfriends, even more girls, old teachers, old friends, old memories to new houses in the town, new house of our old teacher and various other new-old things that has happened around us.
By the time we reached the main road, we realised that it was 7 and it was not dark anymore. So we parted and went to our respective houses. I also met my old school bus and surprisingly uncle recognised us and was genuinely happy.
We had a very entertaining and joyful morning even though we didn’t even play basketball. A bunch of best buddies, some nostalgic memories and a cool morning is all it takes to imprint a moment on the canvas of life.