Another winter in the plains of India is now past and gone, but the crispy winter freeze still holds its grip up in Simla. Today being the 28th of February. Every year at this time my Mum and Pa led us to their old 1100 Fiat in Calcutta and slowly drove us to Howrah Station. The Howrah -Kalka Mail awaited as we unloaded our Trunk, Bedding Roll and Attache Case. Cottonians travelled FIRST CLASS on that prestigious train.
Three months just flew by and at the age of 6 it was too fast in one sense and the 9 months ahead a bit too slow for a young boy. The 2 day journey a blur of sorts.
But what we surely reminisce is our end of year.
How the trunks were all packed in the corridors and Choru the tailor painstakingly sewed cloth around the locks sealing them with wax( the poor chap could hardly see through the broken rims, yet he diligently went on with the task) did we not take him for granted as he mended our shorts designing new lands in different colours of patches and threads on the worn out bottoms!
The trunks were sent ahead in advance of our School Party, Sharat and mine to Calcutta. A shiver ran down our spines as we knew we were heading home from the hills to leave ‘Goldie/ Goldstein’ to his own thoughts as he sat on his private bench near the Grand Oak tree with his cocker spaniel gleaning hard at the tara devi gap seeing our train entering the last tunnel before we vanished on to the other side for three months. What do you think he did during those dark empty and freezing days? Did he still stand on the First Flat with his immaculate self and hear the echoes of our screams and shouts? Did the Bugler still sound his sentinel, our School Flag flying with Rivaz and Ibbetson colours and the Mitre or did he too yearn for his Lady Love whom he never married? Did the gong hammer the bell ? Did he go to Chapel all by himself , walking to the alter and speaking to all of us down in the dusty plains and far away? Once I did press my ears against the Chapel Walls a few years ago and heard his talk of that hand of brass gripping the bolt on those doors- to remain steadfast in your life!
It is when I am rushing through airports or stuck in an incredible traffic jam in Delhi with my driver Ram Bahadur at the wheel I sometimes close my eyes and reflect upon that Sanctuary of ours .. Bishop Cotton School .. And as another OC said ‘ I have seen many mountain ranges, be it the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes.. It is The Himalaya that conquers all with it’s immense power and strength, cradling with constant care our Alma mater’.
So its not a political stage that I wish to stand on but to take in the best of those fantastic years and give back more than I received.