Posted by: gdevi | May 9, 2013

Happy Birthday!

In elementary school, Appu and I walked to school together with his friend Tom who lived about half a mile from our house. The school was about 45 minutes away, up a steep hill, and down it on the other side. It was the community school for Jawahar Nagar colony–a spanking new rich subdivision in Trivandrum in the early 1970s. Appu and I and Tom did not live in Jawahar Nagar. We lived in old Trivandrum. But this was our school, and so we ended up studying there until fourth standard. It was a great school with wonderful teachers and good friends. Appu and I would leave our house shortly after 8:15 or so in the morning and we would walk up the hill at the top of which Tom would be waiting for us. Appu and Tom were in the same class; I was one year older, so I was a year ahead of both of them. Appu and Tom would walk ahead, and I would walk behind. Appu and Tom wore blue khakhi shorts and white shirts, and I wore the blue pinafore and white shirt; the school uniforms. On our way to school, we didn’t dawdle. The assembly bell rang at 9:30 and if we were not in assembly line, there would be trouble. But on our way back from school, at 3:30 in the afternoon, we stopped to explore the straight road that led from the school back to our house in the foothills.  There were lantana bushes on either side of the Jawahar Nagar Road, or Jawahar Lane, as it is called now.  We stopped to pick and eat the lantana berries, if they were ripe. There was a humongous house painted green with dark mahogany windows and white trims right next to the cricket field, with huge dwarf palms with sprawling fronds in the front, and a big black iron gate and a latticed compound wall.  We liked to stop in front of that house and peek inside through the chinks in the lattice. We did this everyday. The last mile or so to our house, Appu and Tom would run in front, and I would follow behind. At the top of the hill, again, Tom and Appu would stop and wait for me. When I joined them, Tom would turn right, to go to his house, and Appu and I would walk down the hill to our house. From the top of the hill, all the way downhill to our house, Appu and Tom would holler at each other- “Bye, Appu!” “Bye, Tom!” “Appu!” “Tom!” “Appu!” “Tom!” In those days, neighbors were less uptight, and nobody complained about the boys shouting in the streets. They would bid farewell to each other until Appu and I reached our house, and Tom, presumably entered his house, and their farewells dwindled into barely audible echoes. I don’t understand many things little boys do.  Even now, I don’t know why Appu and Tom shouted each other’s names every evening. I just remember it vividly.

I sometimes wish Dayani has a brother, like I do, a brother like Appu. Happy birthday, my dear brother! May your song always be sung!

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