Way back in 1974, when we were in our 2nd standard, life was quite serene. There were no Televisions, Internet and Mobile Phones. Entertainment consisted entirely of a Radio. Life was quite simple and easy going.One fine day of December 17, 1974 we had just assembled for the PT period. We would move our hands, legs in one general direction. The big band that the PT master used going bong , bong would be just nice. It was a circus for the PT master since he could very rarely get all of us to move in the same direction. Our general problem was to ensure that we don’t get into each others way while swinging hands, legs et all.
On that particular day our good friend Girish (whose mom and my mom were great friends) was sulking, red eyed. If we talked in class and got noticed we would be scolded. So this presented me the perfect opportunity for chitchat.
Psst Girish why are you not talking to me? Did you lose the imported rubber again?
I just got a head nodding saying ‘No’.
Did you wet the bed and get scolded again? He looked at me sharply as if that was the last official secret to be made public. He quickly held me by hand and pulled me to one corner of the field. The PT master had just got back to his room to attend something urgent.
Mohan – did you know some thing? I was bewilded. Here is the guy whom I was asking questions and he is asking me back another question!
What? I rasped quickly.
The world is going to end this 31st December. One more louder what from me and he clasped his tiny hands on my mouth.
Shhh don’t tell anybody about this. The minute he took his hands off my mouth, I asked what do you mean world is going to end – I demanded half in jest half in anxiety.
He said I sneaked upon my Ajjis room yesterday to gobble her rave ounde and chakkuli but found her talking to next-door neighbor at backyard. They were talking about a war or famine and world will end this December.
But how do you know for sure – I nearly shouted at him. He said I checked all the calendars with Laxhmi, Ganesha but none of the calendars have January 1975 Every one knows and that’s why they have not printed it he opinioned royally since he had my undivided attention now.
It took a while for me to digest that there may be no January again. We may all die on that fateful day. We both were afraid to ask the grown ups as they normally chased us saying Gumma will come and take you away if you ask such big questions.
Assuming the worst to be true we concluded that there is no January again.
We started our count down. We became very nice to almost everybody –so much so that our teacher used to verify that we were writing the homework stuff correctly.
The dooms day dawned and on 31st December I insisted and wore my red T- Shirt which was gifted by my aunt and saying final good byes to Girish and glint of tears came back home. I said my prayers to god for being a good boy and slept for the night under my mother’s supervision.
Some body was shaking me, “wake up” its already 6.30 Am today is Saturday and you have school at 8.30AM one voice was telling me. I sat up with shock. Sure am still alive. I asked mother which month is it today. She smiled and said its new year. Why?
I said is it January? She said yes and smiled. Now get up and brush your teeth, drink your boost and go to school like a good boy.
The time spent in brushing teeth, drinking milk, bathing and running to school all got done so fast I was in school again. My eager eyes searched for Girish. He was playing the seesaw since he had come early.
Girish, I called out. He waved to me from the seesaw and asked me to sit on the other side. Wow, the world has not ended as we thought, its still got one more brand new January to December again I said. He smiled and said, “yes” with a sheepish grin.
Every body was wondering what got into both of us for whole of that day – the way we made merry. Till date I wonder how we had decided there are no more months after December.
Later on, after much prodding Girish revealed that he confided in his ajji regarding what he over heard and his worst fears. Ajji laughed and said ayoo you are as bad as your father in over hearing half statements and come to wrong conclusions. Pedda hogo she admonished it seems.