Yukti and I met first when we were both small and stupid. We used to go to the same school in Hanumangarh. She used to top the class every year, while I used to struggle somewhere at 8th or 9th rank. I am not much aware of the convention followed these days, but back in my days, academic rankings in the schools used to be a pretty big deal.
We also used to travel to school and then back home in the same bus. I would often pull her curly hair and pour water over her. Teasing her remains one of the fondest memories of my childhood. And, things went on just that fun and blithesome way till I completed my 4th-grade education. Then my parents and I moved out of Hanumangarh, to Bahadurgarh in the state of Haryana.
That said, Yukti was one of the first friends I have made in this life. We used to be best of friends. Our bond was very immaculate and had no greed or personal interests involved. We were kids. We were both stupid. And, we were great buds. And, that was all that we knew. Actually, no. I acknowledged much later that I was stupid too.
However, after my departure from Hanumangarh, this cord of brotherhood was broken. There was no wide access to the internet as in present. Nor was social media a reality then. Thus, we both moved on with our lives like the other person never existed. I grew irrelevant of her, without any inkling what she had been up to. I went on to live a life, very different from the one I cherished back in Hanumangarh.
In the years that followed, adolescence played its magic on me. I grew tall to six feet, and my outer demeanour had witnessed an absolute makeover. I was no more the one with the chubby cheeks, and a paunch. Rather, I was the one with the subtle chin, big eyes, and a protruding Adam’s apple. Also, I had gotten spectacles. Ergo, in no way did I resemble what I used to look like when I was a kid.
And, it was this grown-up kid, who in 2013 moved to Kota, Rajasthan to prepare for various engineering entrance examinations. There I joined Vibrant Academy and was allotted the X-1 batch. The prestigious batch of meritorious students, which I never really was. But anyways I was there. Then one day during the break between classes I went down to the canteen with one of my friends to grab some snacks.
I took a sandwich from the counter and began confabulating with my friend. Suddenly out of nowhere, a girl tapped on my shoulder. I looked back as she raised her tone in doubt, “Jayant Mundhra from Little Flower Convent School?” I looked at her curly hair, my eyes grew wider and I knew I had seen this face before. Then I noticed the facial hair over her upper lip and I knew what a miracle had just happened!
I replied astonished, “Yukti?” And, that was it. After a prolonged gap of over eight years, I was face to face again with my childhood best bud! We both looked so different yet so similar to each other. The joy on my face was conspicuous, and I thought she too would be over the top excited like me. I later turned out, she was not. She was rather fuming for it was her who had approached me in the first place.
But, boy! That was one hell of a magical moment. We both laughed, talked and then laughed more for reasons beyond our ken. We just couldn’t keep our joys to ourselves. My eyes were wet and I didn’t took notice of it until my friend pointed it out. I guess I would not have identified someone from my childhood that easily, had I not had gestated such beautiful moments with them like I had with Yukti.
And, that is what made our bond so sacred and special to me. I may have been living oblivious to her existence for so long. But deep within my heart, she had always held her special place.
Albeit, this time again we had to depart on separate paths. After our short stay in Kota, we went on to attend colleges in different cities. But this time we weren’t going to let any more gaps fit in between us. And, we have kept in touch with each other ever since. Sometimes we would talk over calls every few months. And at other times, we would connect in a gaps of just a few weeks.
In fact, over the past few months, our bond has strengthened so very much that we have been having elaborate late-night calls almost every weekend, talking of life, career, love, and of course, Modi Ji. And, things have been this way for over four years now. In this course, we had never again met each other since the Kota serendipity. And, it was only five days back that we both finally planned and met up in Delhi.
We even visited Burger King at Connaught Place. After all, I don’t go out to places where I can’t even get a decent burger. Anyways I would say, she still looked just the same. Just with her upper lips threaded now, she looked way prettier than what I thought in my head! But, pun aside, the thing that delighted me the most was the realization that she still remains that same, old, stupid yet best friend of mine, which she used to be in my childhood. Bliss!