The 30-year-old image is faded but familiar…..
They were about 40 in all…. third standard boys and girls from a class posing shoulder to shoulder for an annual photo session from a public school in the capital city of Delhi : a small child in the 3rd row, second from the left…stands out…Ravi is the only dark guy in the whole class…ya that’s me!
This picture took me back to the time when I joined the school…..i loved to go to this school and my parents had fulfilled that wish for me. Had lots of excitement and thoughts about my school life…but things didn’t go the way I thought.
I had completed three years in the school but didn’t have a good friend in the entire school…..everyone always stayed away from me….i was black! None of us in our age were aware about the racism and color discrimination….but just followed what they have been seeing and learning from others. We never played together.
In the classroom, no one sits next to me…..I was just alone in the whole desk…it hurt me a lot but had to live with it… I worked harder and harder to create a space for me….but eventually I was never appreciated by the teachers even. I just thought that’s the way world is supposed to be.
It was always there… back of my mind … me being black is not a mistake….but I never had a reply to this. I started getting a complex about it. I managed to score well and pass out of my school….I wish that the college life should be atleast a bit better than the school…somehow I wasn’t so lucky in that too. I still didn’t have a reply to the question. What is the problem with my color?
I focused on my goal…and concentrated just on my studies. I always had an ambition to become a Airforce Pilot…..joined the NCC in college too and did lot of gliding….i started getting some friends in the circle…but still the mind had the same question all the time.
I finished my graduation…now it was time to achieve my goal….but decided not to go ….had to fulfill my parents wishes too….and they wanted me to stay with them….I am the only son to them. I was happy that I could sacrifice something for them….I owed a lot to them…I took up a job.
All through my life …I always thought about the school days….I wished that if I had got an opportunity to be a friend of my class mates…I could have proved them to be the best.
I always been a nice and helping natured guy and have been nice to everybody I met. I always tried to go out of the way to help them…may be it was just to try and prove that I am a nice friend …irrespective of my color.
Once I was driving back home….and I saw a man…waving and trying to stop me. I stopped and looked at him. He had blood marks all over his shirt…and was trying to tell me that there’s someone who needs help. I saw a lady lying on the road… first I thought she is dead….but when I went close and checked her…she was breathing….it was too dark on the road side….no street lights, nothing was visible…I could see the lady. I grabbed her in my arms and took her to my car. I rested her in the back seat. They were married couples….looked pretty young…
I asked him to sit with me in the front and drove to the nearest hospital. The hospital staff rushed her inside the hospital and by the time I could park my car and come back…she was already been taken to the ICU….she was very serious….thats what the doctor said. I got some medication done to the guy and called up his family. His family arrived…they thanked me for the help and they asked me to go home and rest. I was worried, and did not want to leave from there. But they insisted me leave. I gave my visiting card to him and told him to call me for any emergency and then I left. I was feeling nice about what I did and also was very much worried about the lady. I prayed for her life.
Next day, at my office, around noon, I got a call from this guy from the hospital…it was a good news…she was now safe and would be ok in a couple of days…and he just wanted me to thank me again for whatever I did. He told me that they were not from Delhi….they were here on a short holiday at their parents house. He said his wife also asked about me…and she wanted to meet up and see the guy who saved her life. But they were leaving by the next day flight.
After few day I read a mail…from a very familiar named person. It wrote,
“Hi Ravi, thanks a lots for whatever you have done for me…you have saved my life. You would always be remembered by me and I owe a lot you. Just wanted you to check the attachment…..I have to clarify something. Is it you in the third row …second from the left…standing next to me….are you the same guy…….are u the same Ravi?”
I checked the attachment…..it was this picture that I have as a memory of my school days. I was happy to know that she remembers about me. I wanted to write a lot…but could not write anything more that just a single word. I replied just with a word….YES.
The next moment I received a call from her. Its more that a decade when this picture was clicked…and right after our school.. We both went our separate ways…hardly knowing each other… and today for the first time we are talking to each other.
She came to Delhi. We met at my office. We discussed the school days…though we didn’t have anything to share in common. But we did speak about the reason of staying away from me. She was very sorry for me and was very depressed about the way I was treated…we talked for long….i felt as if we had been talking to each other for years. She was still in touch with all the school friends…she started calling up everyone from my office and told them about the entire story….she made them talk to me. I was feeling very happy to speak to all those classmates now….they all was now feeling very sorry about the whole thing. They all want to meet me…so she decided to fix a date for a get together at my house.
Today they all are coming to my house…and its time for them to reach….I am extremely happy and excited about it. …..I am just waiting to meet all of them and have some fun with them which I missed out during my school days…..
Though it took more than a decade…..but now that we all have met….we will surely be FRIENDS FOREVER.