It was a fine Saturday of 1996 January, at the end of my batting, the horrible fact that I am caught out, hit my head spin. Two months and I am going to sit on an old bench writing my 10th final exams. Ha, a point of no return. It’s going to decide my future. But, something’s not fair. Lack of motivation. My father’s caning didn’t work out even. He finally caught my attention by offering a new camera upon me scoring a distinction. That’s gonna work. I had a review of my knowledge base the same day. Fortunately, I didn’t have to spend much time on making a time table for my studies. Everything in the texts seems to be giggling at me. Allah, every chapter is new. The books look fresh and seem happy that I finally paid some attention to them.
I got the picture of a camera on my study table. And that seems to be wiping off my sleep. Studied all day long. Lit candles to all known saints and even for saitan. Who’s gonna help? Who knows?
The D-day begins and I was scared to look into my question papers once it’s done. At the end of the exams, with at most pain, I throw the picture of the camera, out of my window. No hopes… Mom started calculating the marks and I was sure that the exam questions were all easy. But, kept the fact that the answers were not easy at all.
Soon after the vacations started, I was no longer in my tensions and started enjoying like the nursery kid. I was at the middle of my batting when I finally heard that, I scored a distinction. Tears rolled down. No, no, it’s not because I scored that marks, but I am going to get a camera.
Ok, so we were all through the boring happenings of an exam. Let’s re-wind for a few months back…. August 1995, as all the teachers children do, I too joined a tuition class. There she was, white, lean beautiful girl sitting in the front bench. (For the safety of my own teeth, I take the privilege of hiding real names). Let’s call her “X”. “X” seems to have had more head weight than her total body weight. But, who cares? My mom being a teacher at the same school, I was a little hesitant to take a step. But, managed to send a letter to her home. I still remember that day, when I realized how gentle her father is. Forgot to tell you that, he was my teacher too. He handed me a parcel just minutes before my class test, with which contained my letter to his daughter. “Gentle man”, that was the first feeling in mind, when I opened to reveal the treasure in that packet. No words… No arguments… I accepted the fact that, I am caught red handed. But, I was laughing inside… My dear sir, this is just a curtain raiser, more to come.
Nothing happened after that day, just the regular looks and stares (she does it). I was also looking for multiple choices. And so, the days passed by… Now, let’s go back to the exam…
Mark list issue date is announced and I was looking forward for that very day. Bought some sweets and went to collect the mark list. She was expected to score a distinction and fortunately for me, she lost at the edge. She made up her mind to face me, I guess. It was my sweet little revenge and she was left with no option in front of all our class mates and teachers other than accepting the sweets offered. Next turn was that of the “Gentle man”, who fought all day in the teachers meeting to make sure that my name comes in the first class holders list and not an inch above that.
It was the best feel in my life to show the mark list home. My father was pleased, my mom was proud and it was a celebration time. Scoring a distinction is not a big deal, but for my parents, it was a surprise from their past experience with me. My cousins were also home for the vacation. The very next day, I woke up to see a box wrapped with a news paper on my study table. I was not in a mood to waste time for a guess and in no time, my dream come true. The content of the package was to my expectations. A black, cute, Konica still camera, two rolls of film and two re-chargeable batteries. My reaction to the situation was beyond words. I was proud and happy that I earned my gift. Sped through the manual pages and located the instructions to load the film. I decided to throw the first click to my text books. That was just a beginning; it took hardly 15 mins before I heard the roll end beep. I remember, me and my cousins were clicking us in all possible ways; I even clicked once lying flat on floor. Now, who has time to refer the entire manual? I was very eager to see, whether the photos are going to be clear enough. Just to make sure that, I opened the camera cover and removed the entire roll to see only black shade on it. That was the first roll being spoilt. My cousins were told by someone that, exposure to sunlight spoils the roll. But, they were not sure until I proved it practically.
My cousins left for their relative’s home. I was still thrilled on my new gadget. “Self portrait of a thrilled monkey”, my sister Ann named the album very creatively. That was not enough to stop me from spending much on film rolls. After all, I was the first to own a camera in my friends circle. That’s not bad for a 10th student, ha..? The days were setting fast and announcements for the college admissions started popping in news papers.
My father started searching for a good college for me. I was in no mood to lose the Darshan of “X”. I made all arrangements to trace her application status and could short list two locations of her preference. First one was Nirmalagiri College, Koothuparamba and then, Govt. HSS Manathana (+2). On the interview day at GHSS, Manathana, I noticed in the list that, she paid the admission fee a day before and I was more than happy to settle down with a +2. That night, I slept sound and dreamy, not knowing the fact that, this is a turning point. And twist in the story…. “Indecent Life” turns into “Indecent Life of a Black Smith” from here on….
End of Day-1