That winter passed like a flying swan. Within the folds of the speeding time I used to go into the woods to collect firewood; other times drive the cattle into the jungles, read a novel under a shade. And as spring signaled its comeback after a nine-month hiatus, I used to till the garden and prepare the beds.
As snow melted and ice thawed, it was already time for me to begin my next schooling year. With a profound sense of nostalgia hanging in the air over the eleven year study at Chumey Middle Secondary School and everything that unfolded there, it was rather emotional to shift to another school in the valley. Jakar Higher Secondary School was my next seat of learning and for the next two years I would be within her holds.
The cold wind from Kikiphu and the gentle breeze down from the Chamkharchu make it a cold place in early spring and late summer. Few blocks away from the school lives Aum Kezang. We would fondly call her Aum Durpa because she is from Dur. Aum Durpa’s canteen was the place where we used to go searching for warmth and warmth we did find in her gigantic samosas, hot coffee, hastily prepared noodles and grotesque dumplings. It became our popular hangout spot even during odd hours until one cold evening when the school councilor took us all out to the Vice Principal’s office where each one of us was lashed with a pair of fresh spring willow whips. We made a hasty retreat to our dorms limping. But even after the whip lashes, we never stopped crossing over to her canteen and relish what she prepared best. We were always able to eat on credit and as days accumulated into weeks and weeks into months so did the figures in our accounts.
It was in Aum Durpa’s canteen that I was introduced to Premier League Football and where I developed an instant liking towards Manchester United. Six years past, I remain a staunch supporter of the Red Devils.
When you’re in class 12 you are supposed to give up everything—less plays and plenty of books. It’s a high hurdle that only with more time spent with books will help stretch your legs and cross it triumphantly. With a strong resolution to leap high over and across the hurdle, I began preparing in earnest even before it was autumn. The board exams would be held only in December. “Let’s make hay when it shines,” I told my friends. As we delved into the intricacies of Accountancy and the brain-twisting Calculus, December was already on our doorsteps. With December came the slicing cold. With our body fully covered from head to toe we took pride in the amount of mid-night oil that we burned.
D-Day finally arrived. Some were nervous, some scared. Some forgot; some even did not read to forget. For the next two weeks it was all books. And when it was finally over, we celebrated round a bonfire of papers. As the smoke rose high we all released a sigh of relief not aware that after two months there will yet come another D-Day which will shape the rest of our lives.
To be continued……….