Those days

I am trying to remember people, places, things and events that are almost half a century ago. So if I falter, bear with me, correct me, remind me. People, well there is Brian Edwards, Kevin Wade, Manek Despande, Joseph D’souza, Bedford, Derek Andrade, Bernard Rodricks, Frank, and a whole lot of a hundred and fifty others who for the life of me, I can’t recall. Brian had been my buddy from day one until we parted when leaving school. Kevin was wild when he joined, and I mean really wild. Then he sobered down and I got to know him better. I remember he was creative. He had a buddy who was kind of tiny, and who in turn had a pet squirrel, which died, and for which we enacted a burial near the banyan tree near Bhayawadi.

Then one day too soon the grave seemed dug up. I happened to go to the refectory in the afternoon on a holiday and there I saw a budding taxidermist was eviscerating the skin in order to create a dummy squirrel. The whole incident created a stink and of course all suspects lost the friendship of Kevin’s tiny friend. Manek was another wild one and very boisterous. He was also very aggresive. How we became pals I don’t know. Maybe I just wasn’t scared like some others. But hey, we became the thickest of pals. Probably because we were both rebels. After I left school I heard he went even wilder, until they showed him the door. Then one day while I was at college, I get this note from Fr. Freddy who was by then transferred to St. Marys. The note said that my dear friend Manek had a very short time to live. So I darted of to Mumbai and visited him at his residence in Mazgaon.

His mother and father sat with us in the hall as we spoke. He tried to appear his bubly self and showed me the hugh bandage around his chest. He said that as soon as he felt fine we could apply to join the Airforce like we always planned.

When I left it was the last I ever saw of him. One memorable event about Manek hangs on. He was chosen in his class to play the lead role in a school play. For the role he was to pretend he was smoking a cigar. And of course they made the mistake of giving him a real cigar. After the play the cigar went missing. You guessed, I had it. So after diner everyday, Manek and myself would sneak to the first floor near the pool to fetch the cigar from a rafter, and take a few puffs.

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