I would like to tell you about an interesting person in my life - my friend, Anand. The reason why I am telling you is not to show you what friendship means or what it should be like - it is just that I want to share something with you - as simple as that. Now coming to the point, Anand and me had been studying in the same school since first standard and we stayed together for 10 long years in school till our Xth standard after which we parted ways as I took Science and he took Commerce - although the friendship remains intact till date. The first image I remember of Anand is of a boy who used to cry with nose dripping ...(you will not like to know what!!)..during the initial days of our school (of course everyone cries initially - I myself used to create quite a mess!). We became quite good friends right from day one, may be because our howling and crying frequencies matched each other with each wave of cry perfectly resonating with equal amplitudes and wavelengths. We did give our class teacher, Ms. Chandrika, quite a difficult time and I am thankful to God that she didn't commit suicide because of us!! Days passed and we started sharing our things - big and small - big things like new pencil and rubber and small and useless things like notebooks and textbooks. As years passed, either of us comfortably used to forget bringing our textbooks and used to read from the common textbook and used to get quite a good spanking from the teacher for that too. Most of the times, both of us didn't used to bring any books and were merrily standing outside the class. Those were the initial signs of greatness and "outstanding" abilities that we exhibited in our school days. As we graduated into bigger classes, while the size of our classmates' bags increased, our's decreased. We had learnt the art of optimum utilization of meager resources like books and textbooks which were nonetheless quite useless for us and we simply came to school so that we don't get bored sitting at home.
We had a class period called CA or cultural activities where all activities except cultural used to take place. We had a very horrible PT instructor called KD - who was a terror among students. He had a pot belly of the size of a globe and had he not been keeping a mustache, he would surely be mistaken for a 9-month pregnant woman. He used to be the supervisor who monitored the students while they were busy wasting their time in CA. The entire school used to come in the open ground and sit down on the bare sand - half of them (boys) ogling at the other half (girls). But we - myself and Anand - were much above these stupidities. We used to take the ultimate adventure - bunking the CA right under the nose of KD. We used to slip away through the crowd to the school's backyard which was being used as a kabrastan or crematorium. Half of the fools used to be afraid to go there fearing about stupid ghosts or ghouls or what not - but we used to go there - not to do anything but simply to get the high feeling of bunking a class under the most strict and ruthless animal of our school. We became the heroes of our school and soon had quite a good fan following too. Many students did try to emulate us and were caught by the predator (read KD) who used to punish them with a dirty smile that you see in a politician when he comes to ask for votes. We did get caught ourselves once or twice and were made to stand as "murgas" or "human cocks" (no bad meaning intended) by clutching our ears with hands taken between our legs. Those were the days when Swami Ramdev Maharaj used to take lessons from us in yoga and human body flexibility. KD did give us utmost help to make our bodies more and more flexible by giving us creative punishments like the one mentioned above and bending over, touching our shoes without bending the knees, and balancing a duster on our backs - whew! we had such bright career in circus!.
Once we were made to do 100 sit ups for some stupid reason. We were exhausted to our bone. And to make things worse, my cycle got punctured that day. And to add some icing on the cake, I didn't have any money to repair it because the whole tube had been burst and it needed quite a bit of money to replace it. That was the day our friendship was tested. I was sure to go home by walking that day although my legs were aching to the point of breakdown. But that day, Anand, whose cycle was perfectly okay and who was as exhausted as I was, said that he will also walk with me to home. That was quite some adventure. We did walk, we did feel the pain in our legs but somehow we were happy about it - I am still searching for that source of happiness. What was it that made us happy even in the face of such calamity? May be the answer is Anand himself. He is a very jolly person to be with. He laughs away all the life's worries, lives life like there is no tomorrow, and makes you feel like everything is okay. That day, I reached Anand's home and then we drank a whole pot of water and then sat down and laughed a lot about the whole day - we were just hoping the idiot KD to just see us - see us laugh at his stupidities, see us laugh at the pain that he inflicted on us, see us laugh at this stupid life and luck that was really hard on us that day, see us laugh on the worst of life's situations.
I learnt a very important lesson that day. Happiness has nothing to do with life's hardships, difficulties, hard luck, or any such gobbledygook. Happiness comes from within us - I frankly don't know how. I frankly don't know what made the both of us - Anand and me - happy. We used to laugh at things so often, laugh at things that were life-and-death situations for others like assignment submission, quarterly tests, final exams, school inspections, etc. etc. etc., and laugh at the worst things that were happening to us even though we were indeed suffering pain. On further reflection, I think may be we were stupid little kids who didn't realize the importance of life or the gravity of the situations we were in and we were plain lucky to have wriggled out of them without any serious damage. But one thing is sure, having a friend like Anand in your life sure has its own benefits - someone who can laugh with you and laugh at himself with the same enthusiasm he would laugh at someone who slipped on a banana skin, someone who never feels clumsy, someone who never talks about worries or bad things in life, someone who is always fun to be around with; someone who can never solve the problem, can't even understand what the problem is but nonetheless, whose mere presence will give you a feeling that you can get through this stupid problem.
I hope you all have someone like Anand in your life - then you might understand life is really beautiful!