Varanasi Again – 66: Inside the ILT

We climbed the steps of the aisle to find ourselves a comfortably distant vantage point, and a suitably unpopulated seat in the farther benches of the ILT. As all four of us settled down, I had a good look around. The poor old ILT looked like a bad case of facelift performed on a gracefully aging personality by a newcomer who was in a hurry to go somewhere.

A row of split ACs had been installed on both the left and the right walls of the hall; they purred, and hummed, and growled, and shook, and coughed to expel some air from their innards which was moderately cool. If one listened intently, it was even possible to hear their exhaust units growl outside, trying to dissipate the heat that the indoor unit sucked from inside the room. Even though it was winter, yet the room had become warm due to the presence of so many people, and the feverish activity inside the room, but maybe it was just the excitement, just the heat of the expectation, the warmth of camaraderie that was making the room warm.

The tall windows on the left wall of the ILT, which opened out on to the ‘green area’, or the quadrangle between the western wings of the building, were in a state of disrepair, and partly covered by musty curtains, almost falling off their hooks. The seats were covered with foam, still new, and the flooring had also been changed recently.

I sat back, observed the room, and the charade going on inside, the people milling about, meeting each other, hugging, shouting, creating ruckus, and also the people who were trying to get some things done, get the actual event started……..and I smiled……nothing like the melee of old friends in their old classroom to put your mind at ease.

KG walked up to Vaishali, ‘Will you do the anchoring, along with Sandeep?’

‘Sure, why not?’, Vaishali said and walked away with KG to meet Sandeep to prepare a scheme for the program, leaving me with the girls.

‘Papa, this is the same classroom we visited last year also, no?,’ Vandita asked.

‘Yes honey,’ I replied, still immersed in my thoughts.

The girls kept talking amongst themselves, making observations about places, people, objects, sometimes talking to themselves, sometimes talking to me. I made suitable noises, and nodded my head when needed, but largely I stayed quiet and observed, and sat immersed in my thoughts, experiencing the situation, the place, the event. Inside, I was travelling back, back in time, picturing things as they used to be, and then conflating them with the present, with what was happening at present. It was an amusing exercise, mixing the past and the present; sometimes the future also interposed itself, and sometimes, very very rarely, the ‘may have been possible’ present, and ‘could be possible’ future presented themselves too. I sat, immersed in this trance of the past and the present and the future, listening to the kids making their observations, watching the organised chaos down below, saw KG, and Vaishali, and Sandeep, try to organise the melee, to bring order to things, then give up and smile, and just go with the flow, enjoy the disorder. Maybe that is what happens with us in our individual lives too. We start out as enthusiastic crusaders, with fire in our bellies, eager to change the world, or burn it down to ashes and rebuild it, and then, somewhere along the way, we tire of it all, realise the futility, the irrelevance, the redundancy of it all, our energies exhausted. And then we see the truth, we stop seeing the world in black and white, and start to see the colour, and the greyscale, and make our peace with it, learn to live and let live…….happens to most of us, No???

To be continued………..

Check out these Amazon Bestsellers from the Author –

The Battle of Panchavati and Other Stories from Indian Scriptures
Daffodils: A Bouquet of Short Stories

By Divya Narain

Additional Professor in Plastic Surgery, doting father, loving husband, newbie author. Love travel and literature. Love reading religion, politics and history!

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