Vantage point

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Funny how the human brain works. Some things that happened a few days back slip from the mind, but some little things that happened a decade ago are still as fresh as a moment ago.

There are some people who are not exactly close enough to be called your "friends" in the true sense of the word, but they are also much more than acquaintances. They were probably friends once upon a time, but were separated from you before the friendship could deepen any further.

I spent the first 9 years of my life moving all around the country in different schools. In 1989 I finally joined Abhinav Vidyalay where I stayed till my SSC. I have always been a person who has a very bad memory for faces. The first day I walked into the school ground, I just knew that I was supposed to be in the "4th A" division. The whole school would be standing on the ground, ready for the morning assembly. I asked someone where A div was, and stood in the row there. Typically, I could not remember many faces. The next day, I again asked someone where 4th A was. The third day when I asked the same question, a fat guy with green eyes gave me a big smile and said loudly "Are roz roz kaay tech vicharto? Lakshaat raahat nahi ka kai?"(Why do you ask the same thing everyday? Can't you remember anything?). He was the first person I came to know by name in A Div.

I never got very close to him. But he was one of those chaps whom you could never ignore. Teachers considered him a troublemaker, and many times when I was sent out of the class for not doing homework, he would be there too. However we moved in different circles. He was somewhat of a "thought leader" in the class. The first porn magazine that I gaped at belonged to him. He is the one who boasted about having smoked before anyone else in the class. He also boasted to be the first one to have fallen in love, when in 2nd, he decided he wanted to spend his life with Gauri. It never ever materialised, but his pursuit of her was always a source of entertainment as well as inspiration.

As I said, we moved in different circles, but he was a guy who always got attention. He became Prefect of the Green House, with a thumping victory margin in the elections. However he was always up to pranks. He clearly had brains, but for some reason never used them in academics. He was the sort of guy whom you either love or hate, and I loved him. Maybe on some level I admired his gutsiness at doing all the "forbidden" things at that age like smoking, drinking, picking fights, following a girl home, etc. We sat next to each other for about 3 months when we were in 7th. It was not by choice but because of a seating arrangement. We had a lot of fun during those times. He would tell me what he felt about Gauri and how he was confident she would eventually fall for him. About how his "competitor" Tushar went to the dustbin to sharpen his pencil every period, just because Gauri's bench was close to it. In fact he offered to sharpen my pencils all the time, just so he could chat her up.

In 8th, he went to another division, since he chose to take Marathi as the third subject, while I took Sanskrit. But he kept making waves. He got into a really major fight with a guy once and it was the most brutal fight I ever witnessed. Whenever we met, he would always stop and chat for a while, filling me in on all the details of his personal life. He got over Gauri soon, but his roguishness remained. The most hilarious prank he pulled was when he came to school early one morning and bent the blades of two fans in our classroom, one outwards and the other inwards. It was an age when vandalism could make you very happy.

After 10th, like most other people from Abhinav, he too disappeared from my life. I kept hearing snippets about him. Once when we were in Engineering 1st year, Aniruddha Kane and I met him at the Karve Road traffic signal. Though it had been 4 years, we started pulling each others' legs. Ani said to him "You know, you have grown so fat, you dont look 19. You look like a father of two kids". To which he gave his traademark green eyed wink and said "Well you never know, I might just have two kids." Never short of a retort, with a big smile and an even bigger heart. That was Ranjit Tardalkar. I never met him after that.

I doubt if I even thought about him after that until today when I read this news link sent to me by Satyen. He died just the way he lived, making waves, helping people, and showing ample proof of his big heart.

Rest in peace, my friend. Aaj kahiin mere maazi ka bhi ek tukDa.......guzar gayaa hai.