I recently met up with my mates from school, about twenty of them, almost all of them after a staggering period of thirty years. The experience was both, exhilarating and disappointing at the same time.
Let me explain: quite obviously, it’s extremely gratifying to re-connect with lost childhood pals and colleagues. Not just for the emotions and memories at play, but also because we knew each other long before we met our respective partners, adulthood friends and work colleagues. School buddies are a part of one’s formative years, and the bonds and experiences we shared are singularly precious: unadulterated, uncorrupted, innocent and naïve. In other words, we knew each other long before the reality of the big bad world invaded our lives. Before we stepped into a sordid life of career ambitions, raising families, battling all the yorkers life throws at us… even survival (terror attacks have become more common in modern times than Rakhee Sawant’s appearances on TV).
I, like many of you, have been invited to college re-unions, management institute re-unions, office re-unions, family re-unions… and I have either ducked them, or have taken part in them as a ‘time-pass’ exercise. Have some pegs, indulge in some silly shoo-sha, discuss the weather, and then head for home. But a school re-meet is uniquely alluring. It’s a rarest of rare chance to catch up with purity and innocence again.
However, I was left a tad empty and disillusioned. The general feeling I got at our little gathering, is that people have irreversibly moved on in life, have been so hugely influenced by adulthood, that they no longer cherish the innocence of childhood. I was searching for lads and lasses at the re-union, I instead ran into very serious men and women. And some old fogies too. In parts, I felt I was participating in a corporate meet, a seminar, a heavy-duty conclave (gosh!). Had we sat an hour longer, we would have been discussing environmental pollution, Mumbai’s crumbling infrastructure and the stock market fluctuations. The guys were so damn formal, solemn and matter-of-fact. These weren’t folks I grew up with, they were complete strangers.
Some people feel I am being ‘childish’. That I am stuck in the past. Maybe they are right. But that’s pretty ironical, when you consider my chosen profession: my job is bloody serious. Serious as hell. As a journo, I constantly have to stare at, analyse and report on the dark underbelly of this nation. This 24X7 life rolling in dirt and grime can often be very depressing, it catapults you into adulthood in like nano-seconds.
Which is why, to be honest, I am a little rattled. Maybe the problem lies with me. Maybe I am too emotional of the past. Maybe I don’t move on easily. Maybe I value innocence more than the others do. Maybe I don’t live my life in water-tight compartments. I must be deranged! Dunno. No easy answers, I guess.