This is a long gap from my last one. I guess when things are intense you either write some of your best pieces or enter a block. I don’t know which one this one. I am still figuring that out but that is not what I want to write about today.
I am forty-one and about three weeks ago, I sifted through my old stuff finally; the stuff I had packed away when I left the Navy in 2001. Yes, that long ago. Old trunks full of treasures, papers you thought you had lost and so many memories. I found two of my slam books from way back when I was in college and school. John Stamos glued as a cover and another blue-eyed guy at the back, too shy to even admit then that I really liked John Stamos, it was covered with a translucent cover. I smile when I think back. I flipped those yellow pages and it was more smiles. Guess what? My classmates from way back in school and college had me figured out well before I spent another couple of decades figuring me out.
I even had a survey page on my Slam Book from College where I asked people what they thought I was like. I was apparently friendly, helpful, nice, sensitive, trusty and responsible. But, Himanshu, you said I was unpredictable. Well, I guess, you saw that way before anyone else did.
I love you all! Across the years, thank you for making me smile!
I am in touch with about twenty percent of them. Some of the names I do no recall a face, some faces, just photographs has me struggling to recall names (that’s from the huge bunch of pictures I found as well). I wish I could find some friends I have wondered about over the years, like Priyanka Singh. No online search has emerged with the one I am hunting for. I have remembered her every birthday and I have prayed she was doing well and happy wherever she is.
I also found a page written by my brother then. I believe, for each other, we have remained the same. My eyes did tear up reading that he had so much faith in me then and he still has. I thank God for that. Beliefs and trust, a desire to not be forgotten, the marvellous eighties, the crazy fun times, little things I had forgotten.
I also found a napkin with the signature and basketball players tag numbers mentioned from the 1990 Senior National Basketball team from Jammu Kashmir. It was my first Senior Nationals and it reminded me of how carefree those days were. It also filled my heart with heaviness that half of those players who were from Srinagar are those who no longer played subsequent nation tournaments because suddenly we lost all those girls to the endless abyss of terrorism and restrictions that came with it in the state. And they were brilliant players…Zeenat, Jeeya, Shabana, Amrita…you were missed.
I rummage in the frail pages, paper napkins for memories of those I will probably never meet in my life. I smile reading about referrals to crushes I had, to the pranks we played, to the beer we drank at NASA during my SSB in Bangalore. There were five of us who hung out together. One of us didn’t make it. Three guys joined the Army and I the Navy. Kumud, Teddy, Harry and Mahendra, you guys are remembered.
I am still reading stuff. I am smiling as I go through old pictures that have so many untold stories. I got truly slammed!