It was raining heavily, and I was sitting in my veranda, with a cup of coffee in my hand, and a lot to think about. A great respite from the heat, this rain brought back a lot of memories. But the memories that dominated and were literally etched into my brain, and I kept thinking about it was my school life, and most importantly my friends. As I looked out at the dark sky and the hint of lightning, my mind was going through all the changes that had happened from the time school got over.
School, was a home away from home. I am not saying this for the sake of it, this is quite true, and I am sure all of you must have experienced this. When I first started going to school, like every other child, I would be really sleepy in the morning and would pray for my school timings to change. But once I got up, and I would be ready, there would be nothing on Earth that could stop me from going to school. It was a place where my friends were, where I would play in the garden and queue for a chance at the swing, where everyone would aspire to be the class monitor and order around, where the whole group of friends would come together and compare whose Tiffin is the best. Life had its own charm and was simple and easy at school.
As I grew up, so did everyone else and changes were pretty apparent. My so called best friend in the first standard was now not even an acquaintance. Priorities changed and life at school became a little tough. Not only did the syllabus increased, but with every passing day, the feel of school changed. Now it was a place where one had to excel, at least make an effort, in all fields, and teachers were friendlier. Having a lot of friends did not matter much now, nor did the exchange of bands on Friendship Day. The class monitor was hated by all, and the student council was a more sought after position. Plans would be made for birthday parties at Mc Donald’s and the school canteen was ‘the place’ for lunch for almost everyone. Moving over Barbie dolls and Mickey Mouse, we had Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus and MTV, with Roadies and the other ‘cool ‘stuffs. This was the start of our teenage and we all had that one notion completely clear, that no one understands us except our friends, especially not our parents. All the gossips and fun at school became more and more memorable as time passed by. High school was a big shock for all. It was the most crucial two years, right from the choosing of a desired stream until the very end with the board exams. In the start, life seemed terrible for me because most of my friends had taken up science and I had chosen commerce. I tried to maintain the friendship we all shared once, but time was a crucial factor, classes were different, and most of my friends spent their two years in tuitions. I was a little apprehensive of my own class, of again having to start a conversation and make new friends, because that was the most difficult job at this stage. People don’t generally accept others easily when they are in the senior class. And, it’s better to stick to a few friends, but good friends. I did not expect the kind of friendship I got during those two years. We were a tightly knit class and I got my lifetime best friend from this class. School during these two years meant a lot of studies, but a lot of freedom as well, to go for movies, and fests, and sleepovers at a friend’s house. Teachers were now friends, we would talk anything and everything, discuss about whatever we wanted to, and we realised slowly that now our opinions mattered. The last year was the best, with the pressure to score good, and the yearning to spend more time with friends going through our minds and heart. Friends were now an extended family, and our immediate families knew that this was the serious kind of bond.
As school came to an end, tears of goodbye had the promise of never ending friendship and love. I would always be indebted to my school for everything that I am today. As I entered college, and everything took a complete u- turn, I missed the sense of security that my school provided, where I could be on my own and not feel alone. It is true that college has its own charm and everything else, but it is also true that we are not our completely comfortable selves in there. There is still the fact that we can do anything and everything with our school friends, but we restrict ourselves in college, among our new friends. Life will move on, and people will come and go, but school life will always be a part of us. I don’t get a lot of time and neither do my school friends to hangout, but whenever we do, life seems to freeze and it feels that nothing has happened and everything is the same. Friends know the best and worst of us, and they accept us as we are.
As I contemplated on all of this, I suddenly was brought back into the real world by someone who had covered my eyes. The heavy downpour had turned into slight drizzle, I could make out from the sound and there was a slight hint of all seven colours in the sky, and as I uncovered my eyes and turned back, I saw a small cake and a large teddy bear, and the best part of it all, my friend, standing there totally wet with a big grin on her face and singing out loudly “Happy Birthday to you”. No one spoils your birthday, not even the rain, she said. Universally accepted truth, friends are always there.