Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Old Re-union

On 24th Jan 2013, Friday, there was an old gentleman who came to my house. He was neatly dressed, tucked in shirt, spectacled. He asked for Srinivasan (my dad). I had invited him to our house. He told me that he was a friend of my dad’s from the college days. They had studied B.Sc Mathematics at Vivekananda college in the 1960’s. He wanted to invite my dad to a reunion of all the batch mates that he had traced.

I had offered him coffee and boost but he preferred boost. Over a cup of boost, I spoke with him in length of his “reunion journey”.

That led me to ask him a question on how he traced my dad.

He said, that one of his friends had told him, my dad last worked in "Bank ..****". He went to that Bank and enquired of my father. They had mentioned that he was drawing pension from **** Branch. Then he went to that branch and secured my father's phone numbers.

He said, that initially, he tried a land line phone – 24****** but it was mentioned it was not in use and then he had tried the cell phone but that also came as not in use.

His friend “Seshadri” (Auditor) had mentioned that my dad was living in a Ramaniyam building between Imcops and Adyar terminus. This gentlemen, had walked all over the place trying to trace the elusive Ramaniyam building but the only multi storied apartment he saw was Appaswamy builders. He had then enquired in a petty shop of a Ramaniyam and the shopkeeper had mentioned that he would be able to see one near Jayanthi theatre.
So on another day (today), he had again walked to Jayanthi theatre but the building near the theatre was not Ramaniyam. He again approached another petty shop owner and enquired. This shopkeeper had mentioned that the building was behind the hotel Vegnation. He had turned up at the gate and enquired of the security whether there was a Srinivasan in our building. (Mind it that there are totally 125 families living in my apartment) The security has mentioned my name – and there was someone as Srinivasan staying with me. So, he had come to my apartment and rang the bell.

I wanted to hear more. So I had asked him on the reunion and how many people were coming there. He told me that he had managed to trace 25 people. He told me that he had been individually tracing people for the reunion for the past 6 months. He had taken 2 weeks to trace my dad. (Old fashion detective style).  Of the 25, so far 15 people had committed to meet.

I had asked him whether other friends of his have done the kind of footwork that he had done? He mentioned that one more friend had helped him but the footwork was mainly done by him. When he had approached his friends, they had told him, that if he is able to trace others, they will try to make it to the reunion. He mentioned that Feb 15th as “the” date. He would try to trace as many as possible. When I had asked why he had used that particular date, he mentioned that “Ellarum kizam kattaigal…inniko..nalayo..ellarum oru thadavai parthu pesanum..” meaning Everyone was old…Today or Tomorrow…Have to see everyone and speak with all.

He told a little about himself. He mentioned initially he had worked in TTK for around 10 years after which he had gone back to take care of his lands. He had stayed in Adyar in 1992, but again sold his house. Now, he was living in Indira nagar with his son and daughter in law. His son was working in a IT company.

I was elated by the enthusiasm of this gentlemen. He has shown incredible stamina and energy and glowing with enthusiasm at having traced his long seen friend.

I had explained that my dad was currently in US with my sister. He may not be available for the reunion. But I requested him to wait, as I said I would call him at US.

I dialed and my sister had taken the phone. I just told her that Appa’s college friend was at home. Don’t tell Appa. Just give him the phone. She played along with me and she gave the phone to Appa.

Mr.Dhanapalan introduced himself on the phone to my dad. There was a bit of silence and after recognition, laughter on both sides. They exchanged news.

My dad was sad that he had not known about the reunion or he would have postponed his US trip. He did miss his friend and all his batch mates, which he also affectionately called as his “gang”.

After speaking with my dad, he got up ready to go. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers so that  he could reach my dad and vice versa.

As he left our door, and walked slowly to the lift, in a slow measured pace, a man in his 70's, age had affected his physical appearance… I could see that he was wearing a hearing aid.  But not his mental strength, Mr.Dhanapal who has shown that age does not matter and single mindedness wins. He is a winner all the way - to see his “gang” of friends for a happy reunion. 

I am very happy of having met my father’s friend. I am sharing this joy of the old reunion to all others. My sister called me later…and I told her the incredible story. Both of us were very happy and elated.

To all my good Friends, I do not know who you are now, but I only know that some time before you were a good friend of mine and you still remain so.

Many of us are in the peak of our career. We have a family, leading highly pressurized lives.But for old time sake … let us “just meet” and be “happy” for at least 1 day a year.