We are at the crossroads of our lives. The Class of 1989. All of us are on the right side of fifty. And as we gather in Goa for our reunion to celebrate three decades of our togetherness, there is a curious concoction of emotions: excitement, nostalgia and a wistful longing to be back in our youthful years.
‘Befikre 89’ is what a batch mate has decided to name the reunion. Why ‘Befikre’? “Because during our Silver Jubilee reunion earlier, everyone came with their families, and then spent their whole time running after kids and pampering the bored spouses! Now the kids have grown up and so, this will be a reunion of only batch mates, sans spouses”̅— he says. “So all of us can be carefree and give each other undivided attention!” But is it actually befikre (carefree)? There is an unending list of things to worry before escaping to the sun, sands and sea. Stock the fridge, worry about tiffin boxes for school, brief the driver, domestic help and spouse. Loads of instructions. Lots of pre-planning. Maddening packing. Definitely will have to pay for excess baggage.
As I start for the airport before the break of dawn, I reach a railway crossing and see a sinuous train rattle past. Some lights are switched on, while most are still dark. Somewhat like our memories of each other: some bright and vivid, some dim and fading.
The car proceeds ahead, and a small furry cat lithely crosses the road. I’m just beginning to wonder about the superstitious implications of a cat crossing my path at the start of an important journey, when a little mouse scurries across the road, shining in the glare of the car’s headlights. Now does a mouse crossing the road reverse the bad omen brought about the cat— I wonder.
I’m thinking about where life has taken all of us from the common point where we all left GMC Nagpur, armed with our MBBS degrees. Each one of us has taken such diverse paths and also found solace in other hobbies and interests. Besides the many specialists, super-specialists and teachers, we have colleagues who successfully sell medical insurance, promote stem cell banking, weave spiels as politicians or are seasoned administrators. The hobbies we pursue are equally variegated. In our group, we have authors, mountaineers, cooks, cross-country cyclists, gardeners, dancers, novelists, fitness freaks, singers, change makers and so many more.
As the flight descends to Goa, the spectacles have been shunned in an effort to look younger. I unsuccessfully peer at the flood of Whatsapp messages on my mobile through my presbyopic eyes. The drab colours one usually prefers give way to vibrant ones. Maybe these will make me look younger, I hope. As we wait at the baggage carousel, some ear piercing shrieks shake my being. Bear hugs follow. My friends are here and suddenly one does feel younger! We all take the long bus to the hotel.
Believe it or not, a saxophone player has been hired and everyone is forced to break into an impromptu jig. We couldn’t have asked for a more musical and happening welcome. Cowrie shell necklaces and red vermillion teekas are included in the welcome package. Long chat sessions follow— some intense, some ridiculous, some philosophical.
As we sit together on the cool sands long after midnight under the moon light, I remember again that we are at the crossroads of life. Hopefully the three days that we spend in each other’s company will rejuvenate us enough to sail through the next decade of living our dreams.