When most were busy cramming copied notes,buying or stealing comics,enjoying goodies only the fortunate were blessed with, there used to be a young child dark and gangly. Did he wear spectacles then? I do not quite, remember. He,on his own, worked away with quirky tools like the nails , hammer, a broken screw driver, wood and bamboo,glue and paper, grease and grime making crazy-shaped kites for others to fly and bric-a-brac to adorn certain dark and mildewed corners of chalky walls.While English and only English was the legal tender,his stern but far sighted father, endearingly known as “Masterji”,along with his caring mother got him to master his Hindi through the government sponsored certifications : Prabodh, Pragya( I’m not sure of the names really). No one took notice ever.Much less bothered.
Sweating away too on a contraption ,popularly known as a bicycle or on spindly legs he made a habit of reporting late to school to catch the not-so-friendly eyes of superiors and colleagues alike..Actually he was busy getting milk or much needed groceries for the modest home to which he was born to. Making the school on time, therefore was a very difficult chore and unsung two- wheeled rickety ride.Forever the left square pocket of his washed but not crisp enough, blue-school shirt had the signature stamp of a leaking fountain pen which he used perhaps, earlier than most.His conduct was a mistaken matter of censure and gloating glee for the many at school: teachers and students alike.He was the proverbial back -bencher or ‘Chokra boy’ as the Anglo-Indians ‘chi-chied’ in snooty disdain. The naughty and not so wicked,I dare say, had mistakenly befriended, thinking him to be one of their kind. In the monthly exams he never got marks enough.(under his breath he still curses the teachers of his day).In all outdoor games he was the royal reserve.And always outstanding ! But, never one to be put down ,a special gift made him see much more than most to snap away with the Agfa Click III of yore, for photos,like the one below : (that all my marriage photos were a wash out is still being sorted out with him, is another story).
And then that weird kite caught wind , and soared up and above the world so high .The wheel of fortune seemed to be turning, for once. Come the ICSE Exams,he beat most and to their disbelief got a thumping first division.Friends shook hands while the nay-sayers were still shrugging their shoulders in contempt or disbelief. Just when the knives were being sharpened, yet again, as he flunked the Graduation exams from Ravenshaw he had cracked the unthinkable;the SCB Medical College Entrance Exam.The sagging thread had finally shed its slack.An MBBS was soon to be followed up with an MD and then a DM in Gastroenterology from Vellore,to HOD, SCB.And many such puzzlingly rearranged alphabets in two’s and three’s making impressive credentials to add fat to his otherwise, slender frame.There has been no looking back ever since.While all this was happening, he got married to a very companionable Sudha, sired two equally beautiful daughters,Haley,not a comet actually ( who is also a doc married to another doc ) and Lalli,the architect designing the foundations for future governance.
Daktar Babu had finally arrived.Dr Shivaram Prasad Singh,he had become. Friends and family stand by cheering with their hands together, for the “late bloom,” which they always knew, was to and would happen.We are all very happy ,and not a bit embarrassed that you exceeded our expectations .
It was along time ago when life was but a game of snakes and ladders ;being bullied by the cowards, sermonized by the not-so-holy,taught by the unkind, forgotten in the dusty rear benches and to become the victim of the “Conduct Marks”conspiracy. We believe: you to have found those legs to keep running and running as only one in a marathon can ;strong in the knowledge of one’s own ability and spirit, faith in the love and compassion of family and friends and to resolutely consider, no distance is impossible to complete and no difficulty is daunting enough !
You have found your love and vocation. Your sport and spikes.Keep running. From a Bihari to Borborygmi has been some travel…
A Very Happy Birthday ! Friend