“God! Its been so long since I have met you. Where have you been? How have you been? Tell me everything blah blah blah…”, the words flow from my friend as soon as she steps in to my house.
We settle down with some hot milk rich masala tea and she sighs, “ It has been eight years since I have seen you last” ;I almost dropped the serving of potato bhujias (a popular Indian snack) I was helping myself with. Eight years is a lot of time. “ The last I met you was on our farewell in Al Rayyan!”
Al Rayyan my school! As a part of my school education I had been to three schools but Al Rayyan is where I took seven years of my education. In those seven years I suppose I learned some of the mathematic rules, some science, some grammar and more. But all I can recollect today is the crowded narrow corridor which led me to the open ground and assembling there in the mornings; running and rushing after school to catch bus; grey pinofers and long grey skirts, Cap tests and our Ali uncle!
“So tell me everything in your life after Al Rayyan”, her question cut my train of thoughts as the driver applied his brakes. It’s a very sunny afternoon and we continued our talks, I was thirsty for water. My thoughts trailed back to school again, to that water cooler on the left side of the play ground. It used to be a mad rush to get a fistful of water. We didn’t use glasses, were there any? I am not too sure now, but we used to cup our fists and drink water. It is surprising, but even today I can feel that coolness trickle down my throat. She notices me smiling as I continue telling her details of my next two years of A-level in the other school in the city.
We manage to grab ourselves a seat by the window. The sea was gleaming green in all its glory. The waiter places two plates of food filled in front of us and walks by. I notice his white and black uniform and I tell my friend that’s the same thing the samosa uncles wore to school. My friend laughs and adds her bit about our samosa uncle who was always there by 10 in the morning to sell samosas from the big brown cartoon for Dhs.1.
I have had very good samosas in Bangalore, I add. “Tell me more of what you did in Bangalore, I am interested” she says.
Bangalore, the garden city of India- that’s where I went for college. I love the way she is reacting to my Bangalore banther. I had loads to tell her about my five years of college studies, of my four inter-collegiate events, three industrial trainings, two part time jobs and one placement. After five years of rigouros education and training I joined the lot of fine tuned media professionals. Life got me to work and experience newspapers in UAE, India ; an orphanage in India and finally a media house in Budapest.
“…then?”, she fills in to cover the silence as our plates are taken and we clear the bills. On a cheerful note I add on, “ I have boarded a bus which is taking me through the rough roads of Life and I seem to enjoy by humpy bumpy ride”. She smiles again. She has not changed nor has her smile. I had last told her good bye in school and it has been eight years. It is surprising how we took it off right from where we left it last. “Care for some coffee?”, she asks me as she looks for a cozy spot in the mall- she looks at me and adds “ I must tell you about me now!”.
With fascination I see her happily narrating me about her eight years. She has achieved her degree, she has found love in life, she is in lookout for work and she is content. She excuses herself to attend a phone call. It has been a wonderful day. I had read somewhere, meeting and parting is the way of life but parting and then meeting is the hope of life. It’s a blessing to have such hopes and joys and to get to enjoy such moments with friends. She comes thrilled and asks “ You fancy a trip to school? Al Rayyan is having its sports day it seems!”
As she attends more phone calls, I make a date to visit Al Rayyan ; my alma mater, where I was told “ Knowledge is all that remains after you have forgotten what you have learnt in school