The shadows grow long upon this year. It was one of the most painful years in recent memory for me, and yet, strange to say, now that it is drawing to a close, it seems to have passed at a breathless pace. As the poet said, ‘we wait, and the time is short but waiting is long’. Today my father would have been 79. He had expected to be around till 80, and so had I, but that was not to be. And at the end of this month, my daughter will have become a full adult, so the most important task of my life is definitely done. Not that she needed to be cerrtified that way, because the way she has been brought up she became far more ‘adult’ in most ways several years ago than most people I know ten years her senior, but, you know, legally speaking she can well and truly be her own woman now. Let her find out how it feels, since I have been threatening for several years that from now till my dying day I will never tell her to do anything, only offer non-mandatory counsel if she seeks it. And she will have my goodwill and blessings to accompany her, and thousands of hours of rich memories. I pray that that would suffice. Meanwhile, I who have been without a guardian since teenage shall be looking forward to having her as a guardian in my old age.
Right now I am about to take off for my year-end vacation. Just waiting for my daughter’s exams to end. It has been a full year, so as always it will be a holiday well earned. Of late I have been slowly becoming more ‘technical’, having launched a Facebook page called Suvro Sir to be used as a notice board, so that if and when I want to escape at short notice, which I never could do for the last thirty years, I shall simply notify all pupils there and go. Now that even rickshawpullers have Facebook accounts, I thought it was time to make use of the facility. All pupils, and especially those who live far away, are being told to check the page before they set off for my house; after that, if they miss me, it won’t be my fault. I have kept myself bound to an iron routine for ages; now I shall be loosening up little by little.
The batch that has just left this year was a good one; I enjoyed having almost all of them in my class, and so, I think, did most of them. Many of them had been around for three continuous years, and they saw many troublesome things happening to me, including my own semi-incapacitation following the accident in 2015 and my father’s slow and painful passing. They adjusted beautifully; for that I shall remain grateful. I give them my love and blessings. Of course most of them will forget me soon enough; of the few that won’t, hardly anybody will visit, and of the very few who do that, most will be at a loss for words. Hardly anybody will sustain the connection over the long run even over the phone or email. So it has always been, so it will ever be. I have given up hoping for anything better. The few ex students who keep in touch meaningfully over the years are overwhelmingly male, and belonged to the batches prior to 2005. Something has changed with young people today, but so be it. It was good while it lasted, and they all paid me dutifully right till the last month; that’s all that finally matters. My enrolment lists for the next session are full and closed; I keep turning away people, telling them to ask me if there are vacancies after the regular admissions are over. So I guess I shall be in gravy for a few more years yet. A lot of people get frantic when they hear their wards might not have a chance. The kind of panic that they feel – or pretend to show – has always made me wonder: why? And if so many people are really so desperate to get their children in, why then do some (admittedly a small percentage, but still…) eventually drop out? Believe it or not, there are some who pay for admission and then don’t turn up, some who quit after the first day, and some even before the last month begins, when the majority are feeling bad that the class will soon be over! Some, I know, find the coming and going too taxing; some leave because my schedule clashes with ‘more important’ tuitions, but some, surely, do so only because they have started disliking me for one reason or the other – sometimes without attending a single class, or just a few. I wish I could find out why. Of course those seats are by and large filled up by others, but it keeps rankling that some found me so dislikeable. As I said, those who find me interesting are vastly more numerous, and their numbers have been rising inexorably over the years and decades, so this has never hurt my pocket, but I would have liked to know, even if from others, why some people quit. Anyway, it makes me feel good to think that there are numerous other youngsters who are dying to get in, having heard from older siblings what my classes are like, and also old boys and girls who are waiting to admit their children. Age has its compensations…
Sayan Bhattacharjee of the 1991 batch came over from Thiruvananthapuram to stay and chat overnight after many, many years. He has had a difficult but colourful life, and I admire his never say die spirit. He and I share a love for writing – not a common thing in India! He has already written two books, both semi-fictionalized accounts of his own past and of his family, which I keep on my library shelf, and he is planning his third. I wish him luck, and hope someday to meet his family when I am travelling in Kerala. If you are interested, you can look up his books, Friendship Calling and A Case of Connections, on Amazon or Flipkart. More power to your elbow, Sayan.
We are having a very strange winter this time. It started becoming chilly in early November, yet today the sun is almost hot, and I am working in my shirtsleeves. I wonder what January will bring, but I do want to see a lot of snow where I am going, high in the Himalayas!