By Ratna Manucha
March soothes our winter worn souls with anticipation and its promise of more. It gently shakes our hibernating toes and whispers, ‘ Wake now, your wintering days are over’.
And so, with each eager sunrise, we emerge, we reignite, we re-energise. As with nature around us, we begin to rise.
Apart from it being my birth month, it also heralds the announcement of Flower Shows across the city. Flowers are in full bloom and birds , bees and butterflies can be seen flying, buzzing and flitting about with gay abandon.
But,there’s one more event that heralds the coming of March each year in Doon.
The annual Rimcollian Old Boys’ Reunion.
The incessant and frequent calls on the Ole Man’s phone at all different times of the day have the otherwise sullen and dour faced bitter half’s demeanour undergoing a sea change and he can now be seen grinning from ear to ear like the cat that’s got the cream. It’s clear as the light of day that the sudden bursts of loud, boisterous laughter which are reserved only for the exalted few, can mean only one thing…that he is talking to either Appi, Gompu or Sanjeev, his Rimcollian friends.
Frayed tempers begin giving way to excited chatter over the phone. Plans are made and then unmade as the run up to the great day draws closer. All work grinds to a halt as blazers are taken out of mothballed covers and brass buttons polished till they glint and gleam in the midday Sun. Local friends are informed that everything needs to be put on hold between the 12th and 14th of March as the Rimcollian Reunion would be on and classmates, sectionmates and coursemates would be descending on Doon .
Everything comes to a standstill for those three days and tasks are sorted out into slots…to be completed before 12th March or after 14th March!
As the D-Day approaches and the phone calls get more frequent, the intensity of the whatssap messages also increases and the duration of the calls gets longer too. Plans are discussed, RV points fixed.
‘It’s the same as last year’, I want to shout, but bite my tongue and listen on resignedly. Any first time listener would think that these ‘boys’ are meeting after an inordinately long time. Though, to be fair, some of them are, of course.
The out of towners bribe and cajole their respective wives to accompany them to Doon.
‘Gompu’s wife Renuka is also coming. You two get along so well. It will be good fun and the weather too is going to be lovely.’
And then comes the standard one- liner, ‘ You can stock up on Kwality toffees and Pista biscuits. In fact buy some for your brother too and for your parents, how does that sound?’
For the local wives, it’s another story altogether. Their heart melts on seeing the cajoling, almost pleading look in their Man’s eyes. At that point of time he could be made to promise anything just to have his arm candy by his side! With a resigned sigh and stoic patience writ large on their faces, the women give in.
The great day dawns and Rimcollians, old and young, chests puffed up in their blue blazers can be seen eagerly gathering around the hallowed portals of the RIMC, like bees to a honey-pot. The hand shaking, back slapping, bear hugs and bonhomie begin in right earnest. As the ‘boys’ reminisce over old times, the wives stand around, casting furtive glances to see if they can spot a known face and slink off.
By now the women are well aware that they won’t be missed – till it is time to go home!
You may be wondering why the wife wants to slink off. You see, if she stays long enough, she is sure to be re- introduced ( she was introduced last year, and the year before , and the year before that too ) to either an old House Master or an old Section mate who will then regale her with the same old stories of how naughty her husband was, which of course she has heard since the day she got married, so it is imperative she makes good her escape while she still can. In fact if someone just makes an effort to ask her she would be able to rattle of all those past incidents in one go, without batting an eyelid!
For the uninitiated, here are some “Must Dos” during the Old Boys’ Reunion –
1. The old ‘boys’ ( some of whom are grandfathers by now) must behave like excited little school boys all over again. For one, their appetite increases miraculously and it is absolutely imperative that they get up early two mornings in a row to dutifully gorge on mounds of Scotch eggs and crispy fried bacon – cholesterol be damned! Also, it is a given that packed breakfast for the wife (who is still catching up on her beauty sleep),is very much in order. After all, those sumptuous eggs cannot be digested until he sees the same drooling look on his better half’s face. But what if she doesn’t like them as much as he does? Well, that’s another story altogether!
2. The boxing match must be sat through from beginning to end, all the while cheering loudly for one’s section and booing the others and talking about the days past when THEIR section always won.
3. Old dossiers have to be pored over again year after year, to find one’s name and then proudly point it out to one’s wife ( whether she fawns over it or looks away disinterestedly is directly proportionate to the number of years she has spent in holy matrimony to the ‘boy’ in question. Someone please tell the poor souls that dossiers are records found at the same place and in the same order every year.
If one looks around, one will notice some winsome, dewy eyed young girls who have been freshly minted into the ranks and they seem to be in throes of rapture on spotting the name of their knight in shining armour. Mobile phones make an appearance and photos are duly clicked while the young boy looks on from his superior position at the older boys who are trying to get the same reaction from their better halves…albeit quite unsuccessfully!
Having said that,on the flip side, the Rimcollian warmth love and feeling of belonging does percolate down to the wives and even though I would never admit it ( though I am finally doing so now!) I definitely do feel a glimmer of excitement on meeting the old Rimcollians each March, especially Appi, Gompu and Sanjeev, who for me are the brothers I never had.
March in Doon is good fun. But am I going to say that out loud? Oh, no, not me!
The grumbles and groans by a ‘Rimco wife’, come March are part of the deal and go with the territory and who am I to break the mould?
(Ratna Manucha is an author and an educationaist)