After a very long period of time, I came to my favourite destination on the planet again-Alibaug. Six long years, to be precise. Nothing had changed much. The school remains the same as ever and the playground filled with students playing Cricket and Dodge-ball. I met my teachers and old school friends. I visited the building where I lived with a thrill of excitement. Giving old neighbours a bit of surprise is always fun! The shops too were familiar. I walked on the road with old familiarity and was astonished to see the same cobbler in the same place after so many years. The Arabian sea remains the same but the shore had changed a lot. Now there were seats and concrete boundaries.
But I was not satisfied. Because I could not meet my old Sanskrit teacher. Mrs. Kulkarni Madam lived in the same old building where I lived. For three years, I went to her for Sanskrit classes. She was a teacher in a different school and we met only in the evening for my tuition. I still remember very vividly as if it were yesterday. I had once scored a whopping 98 marks in my prelims at school. My board exam marks was a 90. Learning Sanskrit from her created a sort of passion in me towards the language. During my tenth class, I could translate many unseen passages from Sanskrit to English.
But now, she had shifted to a new building in a completely new area which I was not familiar with. Due to lack of time, I could not even visit it. I was heavily disappointed. I got her number from an old neighbour but could only receive the operator answering machine. It was very frustrating. How to I contact her? I didn’t know when I will come to Alibag next time!
It was time to catch the bus that would take me back to Mumbai. There was packing to be done and things to be arranged. But I decided to visit the temple one last time. Amidst many chaos and tantrums, I was allowed to go with a promise to come back in time. I ran from the hotel and reached the temple. I entered inside and made rounds around different deities thus copying other worshippers. During my last round, I sensed someone very close behind me. I turned and became astonished. It was Kulkarni madam! And what’s more, she hadn’t changed at all. She was actually standing there in front of me! I blinked and she smiled. She was happy to see me and we chatted for like half an hour. I told her about my studies and career planning ahead. How time goes on! A separation of 6 years from her seemed like 60 years to me. There was so much to talk about but no time! I bade her good-bye with a heavy heart. Resisting the urge to cry, I walked out. The old memories flashed in my mind. Those evening classes, the lessons, the school, friends, teachers…..why couldn’t I just go back to school? That life was much better and simple. But alas! That’s just a fantasy. If I had a time travelling machine, my fantasy could have become possible.
Now its time for a spine-cracking career ahead! As some people say-be practical. And then the line of a poem comes into my head which I used to solve under unseen poems in my English classes. Its poet is William Henry Davies. It ran like this, “ What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare ?”