It’s been seven years since it was placed here, beneath a huge stack of old newspapers on a rack loaded with books.
It had been seven years since it came into this world, born from the silvery solution of the photographic tray. Rediscovered from the bottom of that dirt-laden heap, it was able to see the light, still in good state. It was such a relief! Surprisingly, its co-lors had still not turned yellowish pale. 1)squinted my eyes, straining to recognize those emerging faces. Blurred images, faint, yet distinct memories.
There, in the background, stood that not-so-white wall of the classroom, bearing signs of the 2)onslaught of creativity, when they were present. In front of it stood a bunch of 3)bubbly, youthful adolescent teens, grinning ear-to-ear.
Standing in the corner on the left was Anu, a girl with a short 4)hairdo and still shorter skirt. Shy Deepa stood next, attempting a smile, yet, unwilling to say “Cheese”. Holding her hand was Bhanu, with a 5)vivacious smile and loads of baby fat. Near her were radiant Payal and 6)unassuming Leena. Last among the girls was Sani, the one with silken voice. To the extreme right corner, was Bunty, who would 7)crack jokes anywhere and anytime. Next to him, dark and handsome, was Aashu. Along him were the chubby and mischievous Sanjoo, and the lanky Rajat, ready with his characteristic smirk. Then, 8)trespasser Dangi and sporty Raju, forced their way in, just in time. Completing the picture, brown-eyed Dwari and the baby-faced, curly-haired Paploo, were standing in the middle.
Eighteenth February, 1993…I remembered the date, as my mind strolled down memory lane, recalling thoughts, trying to sketch some images. That was the last day at school, after the formal “FAREWELL” just ahead of those “oh-so-important and scary” 9)CBSE exams. Everyone had gathered to say “GOOD-BYE” to the place where we had spent our schooldays. After that, they were of their own, ready to enter a world with no boundaries. That empty classroom was a world within a world, which was theirs 10)in their own right. It was there when they tried and tried to solve all those tricky 11)theorems; it smiled as they read the “Love across salt desert”. It was an audience of those musical sessions at lunchtime; and a silent spectator of many fights, and of heartbreaks, too. The chatter of girls, the 12)grumbling of teachers, the rumble of feet, the colors of 13)Holi, the birthday cakes, the crushes, and blushes, too…
It had seen all. The classroom was with them, in everything they did and whatever they had planned. It stood among their hopes, dreams, frustrations, sorrows, and happiness—almost everything. Moreover, on that day the white wall at the back of the classroom was the witness of them all, coming together, even if for a single moment only. I found myself transported back to 1993. Seven years are not that long a period, yet, much must have changed since then. All fourteen of them might have changed now, that moment long forgotten.
I wonder and think about them, about their faces, looks, minds and hearts; about their careers, as well.
Time changes everything. Nevertheless, for me, that moment seems as eternal as if it all happened yesterday, as nostalgia drifts in the air, with the echoes of their voices trapped inside that classroom.