While you are studying in an institution, the count of those whom you could consider close friends from amongst your classmates hardly gets past ten, the initial double digit . At the most , it could be just 5 or 6. But yes , you are familiar with almost all, know the names and some details of quite a few . Still we enjoy a kinship sort of with all of them as comrades. After studies, the meetings among classmates become rather rare as most of us get scattered over different places for reasons of employment etc.
On an impulse, where ever in Himachal, my job took me, I had the desire to look for and enquire about my classmates from that area. In 1986 , when destiny took me to Pooh, in Kinnaur , I enquired about two of my classmates in college - Nihal and Daya Ram- who happened to be from Kinnaur.
Within days, I was not only able to spot them but had a visit to my office by Nihal who in connection with his job as a Secretary of the Tehsil Cooperative Union was stationed at Pooh only. We relived the moments as we had met after more than thirteen years. We kept meeting as I was also called to the Union meetings being an ex-officio member.The Union had trucks plying to carry out commercial activities. I badly felt the need for a Hamam to warm water for bathing etc. as, due to erratic and irregular power supply despite the best efforts of the Officers and staff of the HPSEB, no other option was in sight. He got me a Hamam . Whenever I tried to make the payment, he said ‘koi baat nahin le lenge……’ perhaps as a gesture of being a comrade and a classmate.
Our association however was not destined to last long as after a few months, Nihal met with a fatal accident, as while crossing the road at a crucial spot called Urni , he was hit by a boulder that came shooting down from the Dhank . I was shocked at his sudden demise while still in the thirties, and all I could do was visit his village home and offer my condolences.
Returning to Pooh, I made the payment of Hamam , a little more than Rs.200/-, to unburden myself .
We had met to part so soon !