MY REDISCOVERY

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic


A true life story of two childhood family friends who lost touch when they grew up. Profession wise, one became an engineer, the other a university teacher in plant genetics; they remained
unconnected for decades. Both missed the good old days. Suddenly, Jani, the engineer, in a feat of a genius, bridged the gap of forty years of unconnectedness.

Submitted: February 16, 2018

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Submitted: February 16, 2018

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My Rediscovery

A True Short Story

 

By

Babul Nasar

 

 

 

It feels great to be ‘discovered’ by someone who does not really need to remember you. It is an additional pleasure if that discovery guides you to ‘rediscover’ yourself. This rediscovery gives you a reason to wish to live a little while longer with positive attitude towards life and people around. This happened to me a fortnight ago.

I was born in Purnia town of Bihar some counted years before India attained independence. The then toddler was moved to Bhagalpur where my father had begun teaching English at the then T. N. J. College affiliated to Patna University. I grew up at Tatarpur, a familiar mohalla near the Bhagalpur railway station. My family moved to the superintendent’s quarters of East Block Hostel of T. N. B. College - TNJ having been rechristened as TNB. The college had by 1959 become the nucleus of the newly founded Bhagalpur University which now exists as Tilka Majhi Bhagalpur University. I cannot guess any new names in the era of the political fashion of changing names of places, roads, institutions and what not. Thank god my father never became a politician despite being requested by the big wigs of politics in Bihar umpteen times to contest in elections. That is one reason why I have always been known as SKT Nasar ‘Babul’. My friends called me Babul. Only one friend Nasrul Hoda used to call me Khurshid representing the letter ‘K’ from my long name.

Decades rolled by. I changed places for studies, assignments and jobs. My umbilical cord attached to Bhagalpur was stretching; and it ultimately snapped. I undertook my journeys away from Bhagalpur in 1982. I have seen places and found new friends, many friends, good friends. I finally settled in a small flat in Kolkata. Yet, I am a lonely person at about sixty-seven now.

I am not sure about why I miss my Bhagalpur. Why am I lonely even while surrounded by family, three enviable children, their spouses, and three adorable grand children, friends and loveable students? Why should the very thought of, a call from or a visit by someone from Bhagalpur stir up my inner senses? Why am I happy yet unhappy? Something is amiss. Surely that is the group of my childhood-adulthood friends of Bhagalpur.

Bhagalpur was then a cohesive town with mohallas and tolas spread over. An olden-day city, there were many well-known families. Everyone seemed to know everyone else around. How wonderful and how very cosy, that! A few of us were more easily locatable by the joint names of brothers such as Babul-Kabul, Khalil-Jalil, Maidu-Saidu etc.  I will shortly come to Jani-Mani.

A group of fifteen to twenty young men used to assemble at Tatarpur and roamed the stretch from there to Shujaganj and Khlifabagh chowks, the four-road crossings. The group invariably included Babul-Kabul and Jani-Mani. That was during the sixties. The group organised get-together and sporting activities. Laughter, in-depth discussions on varied topics, occasional shikars for shooting birds, and sort of fingering each other were the forte. What a great time!

Times began changing during the seventies when we got busy with jobs, higher studies, growing businesses and, of course, freshly married lives. It was on 1 January 1971 when I was married to Sheila. Our wedding took place at Siddique Mansion of Park Circus in Calcutta, now Kolkata. The marriage party had travelled by Danapur Fast Passenger train from Bhagalpur to Howrah. On the fateful evening of 31 December 1970, the barat party was stranded at Bhagalpur railway station because of a police firing having had taken place a few minutes before we the groom’s wedding party had arrived at the spot. Obviously, Jani-Mani was (or were?) with Babul-Kabul in the party. We had reached Calcutta much too late for the scheduled wedding time. We were upset about the possibility of the bride given in marriage to someone else because I was too late. Happily, that did not happen.

Post-marriage, I moved to IIT, Kharagpur for doctoral studies.  On coming back to Bhagalpur, professional, family and social commitments kept me away from recreating our good old days. That was not much of a problem because we did meet as often as possible.

It does not take much time for years to pass by so softly that you do not know when it happened.

One afternoon in March 2011, Sheila rang up to inform that someone from Delhi was trying to locate me. No clues as to who the hell was he or she! The only pointer was that he/she began to discover me from Siddique Mansion where I was wedded - for the first and, of course, for the last time - way back in 1971. Someone knew me through my marriage but is not connected with my in-laws, I thought like a detective. Well, I watch too many detective TV serials and that is how my thinking power has dimmed! I tried to forget the episode as a ‘wrong number’.

Sometime later, on a sunny day, my mobile phone vibrated. The caller number was unknown and the caller’s voice, definitely a male voice, was low. Suddenly, the voice was clearer and louder. I was unsure but excited. Someone at the other end was talking about our Bhagalpur and our golden days. He said he was Jani. I exchanged pleasantries and hung up. What was the name - Jani, John or Johnny of Bhagalpur? Who? My mind was misty, as it should for an oldie like me.

A call came from Patna two days later. The caller identified himself as Atiqullah, a retired Chief Engineer of Bihar. I placed him the moment he spoke of his father, Engineer Jamilullah sahib, a friend of my father. What a joy it was to be remembered by someone after about fifty years. I thanked Allah for keeping me alive so I could hear my friends’ voices. Atiqullah informed that he got my telephone number from QN Khan Jani. Wow, that was it! Jani, Jani and the only Jani! I thanked Atiqullah profusely for calling me and giving me so much unexpected joy.

Jani called up a couple of weeks after informing he was staying in a Calcutta (now Kolkata) Hotel. I rushed to meet ‘the’ Jani. Warm as ever, jovial as ever and clear headed as ever. More intelligent looking than ever! A bit paunchy and more confident! Here was Jani oozing out positive energy. The young engineer was now in front of me as a multifaceted and multitasking enviable Jani. Height unchanged, Jani’s girth was a little altered; the near-complete baldness inherited from his father Mr. Justice Nasiruddin Khan, genetics at its best!

Jani discovered me. Without saying it, he guided me to take a refreshing walk down memory lane. During this stroll, I rediscovered the long-lost Babul in me.

A gap of forty years bridged in a moment by Jani. An engineering feat of a genius, I reckon.

***


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