There was that black gate. I was perhaps the only one in the school-bus who used to behold that gate rather stupidly……….Why is it always closed? Why is there no security? I had come to think that it was meant for villagers……people who can take a shortcut across the station as was the case with its other compeers. But for reasons, occult to my own common sense, I suffered from an incessant attraction towards that gate…..that unguarded, locked, ironclad sentinel installed perhaps only for the purpose of being savored by air and water.
And today we were crossing it(of course it was closed and we had to jump over it)! Myself, my brother(Vipul), Shoaib, Srinivas, Kapil, Sarthak (Chikoo), Appu (Aparajit) and Varun…. It was planned only five minutes before………………
It had been our long term tradition, not really bequeathed by our ancestors, but definitely an old one; one of the few things we started and were proud of (how it was taken by our successors, we were never bothered). That haven of nature…….. beautified to zenith: a round plate (consider it to be upside-down) profusely matted with tropical grass (to be true, that required a little bit of weeding) hemmed in by thickets of higher autotrophs (there was definitely one neem, two mangoes and a banyan tree except the brambles, heather and forget-me-nots trying to fill the every available space).This copse, near the golf lawns (invisible for un-keen eyes by the surrounding trees), was our hangout ‘palace’ ambushed after every series of examinations(anyway, I was in eighth standard in the ‘famous’(only one, in that region) school : K V Amla).
Let me be clear. Amla is a very small place in the extreme south of Madhya Pradesh (Waa Bhaiya, hindustan ka dil), lies approximately 40 miles north of Nagpur. It is famous for an Air Force Station (its godowns of explosive ammunition), mahua (used for making a special drink, a local version of alcohol) and mangoes (The name of the place owes its name to the exuberance of this king of fruits). It is quite interesting to note that mangoes (mmm… I still remember those phlegmatic moments…….sitting on the branches…….relishing the yellow juicy pulp……it is another thing that I once broke my limbs and spent my rest of the summer in bed) show their presence in alternative summers, and that too in odd years!. I am sure you will admire this plan of nature. Is it not a great idea (which at times used to get annoying) to provide people with successive times of abundance and scarcity? Does it not keep the taste of the thing alive? ……………………. And I must not forget to mention Jaamun, (there was a peculiar tree in the campus which I dreaded was having some spirit or some ghost) a round fruit having a pinkish pulp and purple integument.
23rd march, 2003………We were to meet at the gate of golf course sharp at 7:30 morning with all the necessary provisions: bed-sheets, maggi, eggs (we had planned to try egg curry this time), cards, tape recorder (with some cassettes of course), usual nick knacks, knife (intelligently brought by Varun), marbles (it was a craze in KVA during those times), a football and other necessary things that my memory doesn’t recollect.
As usual, we two brothers reached there at 8 O’clock(we had an excuse………ours was the farthest home among us). But to our utter disappointment we found the gate to be closed……………………………
2 b contn…..