After having disposed off the plates, and empty water bottles, I returned to my seat. As the boat moved along the Ganga, slowly making its way to the Lalita ghat, where we would disembark for the darshan of the Vishwanath Dham Corridor, I relaxed, and enjoyed the view, looking forward to visiting the temple again.
The boat was bubbling with activity by now. Children were playing games, women were chatting, boys had formed a group of their own and talked and guffawed loudly, slapping each other on the backs, cracking jokes, reminiscing about old times. Several of them walked over to where I sat to say hello. I was, after all, their senior.
Sandeep came, then Amit Malhotra, then Raju, then Chaurasia……they all came one by one….
Sandeep was an orthopaedic surgeon in Delhi. His wife, who was accompanying him on this trip, was a radiologist, a few years junior to Vaishali, and was a faculty at AIIMS Delhi, I think. Sandeep had always been quick of wit, and had a pleasing personality. He had spent a couple years abroad, training and then working in the UK, and thereafter he had returned back home. After a few years of faculty job in IMS, BHU, he had left for Delhi and had settled there after finding a faculty position in Hamdard University.
Then there was Amit Malhotra, Mallu for short, the successful dermatologist. His wife was also a BHU Alumnus, two years his junior, I believe. But she wasn’t accompanying him on this visit; she had to attend to their children who were in school. She would be coming to Banaras after a couple of years anyway, for her own reunion. Mallu, was a jovial chap, happy, and hardworking, and always well mannered. That is why the girls liked him, I think.
Sandeep and Mallu both were good friends of Vaishali, but I think she had been closer to Raju. A soft spoken, hard working, shy south Indian boy. Speaking of shy, there was also Sai Kiran, the brilliant boy from Andhra Pradesh whom I had once saved during his ragging. Vaishali had always admired his intelligence, and his academic achievement. After finishing his MBBS, his med school if you may, from BHU, Sai had qualified for the six-year neurosurgery residency program at AIIMS Delhi. After passing out from this residency program, one of the most gruelling in the country, he had joined the charitable hospital at Puttaparthi to serve the poor and the downtrodden.
To be continued…….
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