On that day, Rishi bathed himself at 3:00 am in the afternoon. It was his farewell, and even though he didn’t plan to go there with make-up and all like his fellow girl classmates; a bath was inevitable if he wanted to give himself the illusion that he is nicely dressed up. Plus, he was going to wear good clothes so he might as well have a clean body.

Focusing on his body, he noticed that the hair in his armpits had grown considerably and thus more liable to produce unpleasant odors. He took up the scissors and began the work. He noticed that this activity blocked the drainage and gave the sieve a repulsive look, but he did not let the thought dwell. Afterall, it was his hair, and thus not repulsive- at least to him, and secondly someone was anyways going to clean it tomorrow.

He also noticed how the hair in his right armpit was proving to be such a nuisance. The left armpit, being a piece of cake since he was right-handed. With his left hand, whenever he tried to take a shot at removing a huge chunk, only a small amount of hair would come off. He didn’t try and shave because there was this belief in him propagated by his mother in 9th standard, that after shaving the hair grows back, coarser and more prickly.

When it was all over, he went to his bedroom and tried on the brand new shirt he had brought for the occasion. And the blazer that he had borrowed. He looked at himself and felt good. But only for a few seconds.

For when he moved to the drawing room, his mother and brother started laughing. This corporate attire, when placed in context with his age and behavior over the last few years, this seemed extremely funny. And something which camera companies advertise as a Kodak moment or some shit like that. Rishi, though felt uncomfortable as hell and the photo must have made him cringe sometime ahead in the future.

When the photo was done, he didn’t wait anymore and headed straight for school. There was still time for the function to begin, but he hoped to pass the time by roaming around shops and buying a cold drink.

****

He entered the school, and saw the cheap (according to him) decoration that had been done by the 11thies. He wanted to say to them, ”Save the money for the food guys, this paper rainbow doesn’t make sense.”

He also saw his 12th classmates, from the other sections, and a few from his section also. He smiled to all of them in a complex manner. Complex because, it was supposed to convey a variety of feelings,

“Wow, hi!, you look different!”
“When two people look like clowns, both laugh, and no one gets embarrassed.”
“Oh come on, wear a Yellow tie on a Red shirt.”
“Really now, I don’t usually dress up like this, and therefore am feeling odd, let’s be brothers and show each other some support in times of crisis.”

****

Soon enough, the courtyard was filled and the farewell, it was announced, would begin shortly.

The students however used this time, in frantically clicking photos. Rishi reflected, and wanted to hammer a simple piece of logic into people.
“You look bad enough already dudes, why do you want to preserve this memory. Okay, a few people may be looking good, but they can’t fill up all the photos. And please, stop making faces while posing. Fucking shit lame.”

He maintained a straight face and remained somewhere at the back, in all the group photos and gave a plastic smile in all the others. He swore that he’d never watch them in his future.

One of his friends, came up to him, when he was standing alone in a corner feeling completely horrible,

“What happened, dude? Why are you looking so depressed?”
“No, nothing.” he replied, in a somewhat choked voice.

He did not know why, but he could not smile genuinely or talk confidently to people.

The girl he used to like was chatting away as if the world was about to come to an end, with the head boy. A big dick, himself, according to Rishi.

***

Very soon, by 6:30 p.m that is, the function started. The students were offered snacks but Rishi, refused thinking that he needs to keep his stomanch empty in order to take maximum benefit of the Dinner.

To start with, a couple of 11th grade girls with excess make-up came up on the stage and broke into a supposedly sentimental piece of speech where, they said, that how when people depart from a family, there is always sadness and how the batch that is passing out will be sorely missed.

Rish was sure, that these two girls who were talking to the whole gathering, did not know most people by their names, and some not even by their faces. Leave alone, the fact that they were friendly enough to miss them. Maybe, the prefect circle, will miss the prefect circle, but average people, they didn’t care. In fact, the 11th standard students would only feel happy at the prospect of now being the seniormost person in the class.

But, he knew, that such exercises were futile and as long as school will exist, this non-meaning display of farewell will also exist.

The next inevitable truth, which he saw later in the function was the existence of such a thing as dance performances. It usually involved a bunch of kids dancing their asses off at latest popular songs, from a fuckall industry called Bollywood.

Rishi did not understand why everyone cheered their throats out for these people. “Maybe they have been so bored by the speeches, that this seems like a masterpiece.”

He even hated the selection of songs. “I hear this song seventy times a day on TV and radio and everywhere. Now, again they are playing the same song.” he voiced his opinion to the nearest sitting person who didn’t look all that enthusiastic either.

“And, they are copying the steps also.” the other one, said.

Both of them smiled in the hopelessness of these people’s intellectual finesse.

****

The end of the function was marked by a symbolic routine where 20 people from 12th passed a candle to 20 people from 11th. These 20 people comprised mainly of the prefectorial body, and the ‘almost-a-prefect’orial body.

“People with horrendous bad luck, like us, need not pass candles, since symbolically speaking, we may even pass our bad luck.”, Rishi thought.

When the end came, every student was given a gift and memento with a printout of a generic letter, with the only saving grace being that it had, “Dear Rishi” written on it and not some “Dear Passout” kind of shit.

Rishi accepted the package ungratefully and made his way towards the buffet. On his way, a class-mate interrupted him and said,

“Non-veg, not there.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, and the rest of the food is also not good.”
“What the fuck yaar, I came for food only. I don’t feel sentimental about the whole, ‘leaving the school’ thing.”

The informer nodded in agreement, and Rishi left his company to at least fell his stomach if not exploit the ‘unlimited chicken’ thing.

****

The food turned out to be even more horrible than he had anticipated. Far from being good, it was hardly edible. All, he could finish off was a roti before he threw the plate into the box where everyone else had thrown their half eaten plates.

He washed his hands, and was about to leave when he was spotted by the sports prefect. He too was looking for the ice-cream.

“Hi, where were you?” the prefect asked.
“I was here only.”, Rishi answered.
“Oh, I didn’t see you.”
“Actually, I had a headache, so I was sitting at the back.” Rishi said, shocked himself at the spontaneous creation of the excuse.

“So, how did you like the whole thing?”
“It was okay only. I liked the girls performance because it had Piya.”
“Yes, of course. She is the only babe in 11th standard.”

Rishi, finally got his hands on the ice-cream as the prefect resumed conversation.

“The farewell, we had given was better.”

Rishi, didn’t reply to that. He knew that this man’s opinion is biased because he himself worked his ass out for the last Farewell. He changed the topic though, by criticising the food.

“Oh, there’s a bird flu scare no, so no chicken.” the prefect reasoned.
“Mutton, they could have given.”
“Our school won’t spend that much money.”

At least here, Rishi was in agreement with this man.

Both of them finished their ice-cream, and were asked by a boy, to come to the multi-purpose hall for a group photo.

****

When the group photo was being taken, Rishi reluctantly stood in the last row and barely managed to make his face visible by twisting his neck towards the left.

After that, while everybody was chatting, he left the function and walked into the crowded road again. He was still hungry, so the sight of a cake shop comforted him. He ordered a big pastry, and though it was slightly expensive, he felt much better with a full stomach.

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