When old meets new

It’s a love-at-first-sight of sorts,

When old eyes see a new sheet of paper

(Or maybe half-new, or always-there-and-never-knew),

Lying carelessly on a pile of books at the corner of the wall,

Clearly for disposal.

It’s quite pretty:

(Blue, but not exactly blue – maybe a mix of blue and white –there is a name, but it is long lost in recesses of his mind – a perfect square (16×16 sq. cm) – tougher than normal paper, but it’s good because folds hold and it would be quite suitable – )

Huh?

What was that?

unkel…..dri……t…..

Maybe he missed it, maybe it’s not for him –

unkel, woud you lai…..maybee….

?????

UNCLE TEA! WOULD YOU LIKE TEA?

Oh, there it is, no, no thank you

He already had coffee – too sweet coffee to make up for the too bitter decoction,

But who got coffee right nowadays anyway?

What was there to complain – it was just a drink and the poor shopkeeper had to earn his livelihood – he understood the importance of money –

Huh?

Oh no, no thank you.

A few tittering laughs, a sheepish grin.

Why would anyone dispose such a sheet?

Maybe it was used as a half-finished shopping list,

Or the second draft of a card that was never given,

Or used for doodles made while talking on the phone-

Ballpoint flowers whose roots extend for three-fourths of the page,

A network of black lines-

What a waste.

…….U.S…..dont understa…..

………

   ………….

….. truMP……

Ah yes, what had the world come to?

Such a beautiful country, now so much wasted potential,

Who in their right minds would vote for such a man?

(A familiar feminine voice says ‘Blue collared uneducated workers.”)

Naturally, education was important indeed –

………….

What did he do nowadays?

Same old thing, whatever this old spirit can do

Don’t say that Uncle, don’t…

……..

A light breeze touches his wrinkled skin.

The fan.

The blue sheet of paper flutters to the ground like the butterfly it could be –

Soon to be chappal-stamped with kitchen dirt in the patterns that Bata promises gives better grip or tucked carelessly under the leaking water bottle on the table forcing the fibres to absorb a single drop of water that spreads like ink ruining the soft texture with its dampness –

Hand wraps around a walking stick,

Hobble. Hobble. Hobble.

Bend down.

Ignore waist pain.

………..?……….

 

It’s a love story of sorts,

When old hands meet a new sheet of paper,

And settle back down in their seat,

Ignoring all questioning eyes.

Conversation returns to the living room,

The fingers thumb the clean crisp sheet unconsciously,

As the mind races ahead to see all its

could bes

should bes

possibili ties

And settles on one,

Perfect for this size and colour and quite easy to make.

The folds appear, crease after crease,

Only outdone by the creases on that hands that make them.

Hands that have wrapped around the shoulders of siblings,

And around the hands of the little ones,

Around the handle of a walking stick.

Hands that have underlined the favourite passages of poetry

That have cooked along with his wife,

Have propped up the clothes on the line with the help of a wooden stick,

That have prayed and offered,

And folded before God,

Hands that fold now, a sheet of paper.

Old creates new.

 

It’s a happy ending of sorts,

When the old couple leaves.

The wife smiles and hugs the hostess,

The husband is ready with his bag and chappals and walking stick,

They wave good bye twice.

And the host,

wondering about the slightly-lost, quite-deaf, very-interesting Uncle,

Sees a little blue flower

With long and short alternating petals,

Made of – and it seemed impossible, but was true

One sheet of paper

Lying on the cushion of the seat.

Dear School

Dear school,

You are four well-constructed buildings lined along a sloping road.

You are buildings that flow into one another, the Administrative Block creeping into the sandy football ground through a large, curving ramp; the same ground leading to the senior block through short, fast steps embedded in a grassy slope that turns into a rocky wall to the left.

The slope overlooks the premium tennis court, and the Senior Block invites us in through narrow paths to the side, or from the large open area behind the library. There is no concept of inside and outside, nature is allowed into the building, ushered in by way of the central courtyard, marble tiles suddenly changing into red stone floor. There are black granite structures so that we may sit in the courtyard.

The classes are wide-windowed, airy. Seats look towards each other, some away from each other. Colourful pouches lay on the desks, lunch-bags half hanging off the little hook made especially to hang them. Stationary litters the desks, a stray crumpled piece of paper hides in the back corner of the class.

On the other side of the Senior Block lies the assembly ground – a new green and red turf has been laid. The colourful basketball court is further down, next to the volleyball court. The stage leads to the Senior Secondary Block, which has a line of classes behind an AV room, and another set of classes upstairs for the science sections, with staffrooms interrupting the flow of classrooms both upstairs and down.

The Senior Secondary Block is connected to the canteen, with its long beige-white glossy tables, and circular colourful seats; the canteen once again opening up to the throwball court in front of the library.

The amphitheatre overlooks the stage, and subsequently the adjoining Junior Block, one of your most confusing buildings, with the classes upstairs, and downstairs, more floors than there seem to be.

Dear School, this is you, surrounded by dark green forest that is slowly seeing the effects of development, white buildings cropping up between the trees. In the far distance, there is a bare outline of hills, holding mysteries we can only imagine. The forest deepens into a valley.

This little secluded marble of a world is overlooked more often than not, by the grey skies of this city, a cool breeze fanning our face, especially delightful in the shade of a parked bus, or a large tree.

This is you, the place that has always been beautiful, will always be beautiful.

You are the source of friends, sort-of-friends, hi-bye-friends, you-are-my-best-friend-but-you-don’t-get-me friends, ride-or-die friends, you’re-fun-when-I-remember-your-existence friends, I-only-talk-to-you-because-you’re-hot friends, we-look-at-each-other-too-much friends, you’ll-always-be-special-to-me friends, friends turned rivals, rivals turned gossip buddies, exclusive-bus-friends, we-chat-online-but-don’t-talk friends, cool friends, you-are-so-sweet-no one-can-be-mean-to-you friends.

Friends, acquaintances, people whose existence we know.

Each place is marked by events, some remembered, others forgotten. One tile marked by laughs, another by tears, deep talks, frivolous talks, confessions, hugs, kisses, marks.

The walls of this school have seen it all, again and again, children growing up, learning, discovering, falling in and out of love.

Teachers have seen it all. The students who study too much, don’t study enough, those who can’t, those who won’t, children with potential to do better.

There are the teachers who we love, are enthralled to have, and others, where we can barely keep our head up, staying awake out politeness, or perhaps repeated jabs to the side by a best friend. Teachers who become mothers, who share jokes, comfort and scold, teachers who become friends, discussing movies and anecdotes, teachers who become disciplinarians, clearly defining what is and isn’t tolerated.

There are the Ayas who keep our school clean, who we trouble, who we thank; Ayas with their periwinkle coat, SKCH stitched at the top.

There are the people we love, learn to love, crush on; people who break our hearts, people who help us heal, people who break promises as if they were nothing, and people who show us what a promise means in the first place.

Next year, I will walk in your halls as an outsider, a once-was student. I will attract looks because of my coloured clothing, orange visitor’s ID, and the hugs I give and receive.

I talked to my friend five year ago about how we are closer to our future than we’ve ever been. We walked around the Junior Block assembly ground, on the stone path around it.

Well, here we are.

I have prepared to say goodbye to the school for the last two years, weaving letters laden with metaphors and descriptions. I don’t even know how many times I’ve mentioned my love for the school’s beauty. I will say it even after I leave.

I love you school.

Love, me.