Friday, August 29, 2008

My Friend S.Shanthi Lal

I heard a story of a friend from the middle east , when I was but a child. It runs as follows:-

There was a young man who one day boasted to his father that he had millions of friends. Then his father told him, he had only a half friend. The son laughed at this. The father egged the son o test his friends. Then the father filled up a big Gunny bag with saw dust .He poured lot of red ink on the gunny bad. The son carried this bag to his closest friend’s house. When the door opened , he told his friend, “Sam, I have killed a bad character. Now I do not know what to do. Can you help me?.” The friend slammed the door on him and shouted from behind the door, “Go away from here. I am sure the police would come in search of you. I do not want to have anything with you from now onwards.” The same thing happened in the houses of all the million friends of the son. He returned home and told his father, “Now , I have understood that they are not my friends.” Then father told his son to go to Father’s half friend’s house and tell the same thing. When it was done , the scene was very much different. His father’s friend, took him inside , gave a cup of coffee. Then he helped him clean himself. He then asked him to return to his home without the bag. After the sin left his house, the friend, surrendered to the police saying that he has killed somebody. Then the father told him , “this is but half my friend.”

Somehow right from my childhood I was in search of such a friend. In these 68 years , I do have large number of acquaintances but very few friend. I have decided to write about these few friends, in these blogs.

The first of them is Sri .S.Shanthikumar , who was my friend in my high school days at Secunderabad , Andhra Pradesh.. A few words about myself at that time. In 1950 , I was studying 6th standard in a Malayalam school at Chelakkara, Kerala. My father was running a hotel in Secunderabad. He decided to put me in an English medium school there. I was taught slight English by a young lodger in our hotel called Omana . I appeared for an interview in a St.Mary’s school. This was a very poor school those days with Father Fernandez as the principal. The medium was English and my second language was Tamil. I just knew how to read Tamil and did not know how to write it. I did not know how to speak English. I joined the seventh standard there in 1951. It was a real struggle to learn. All my class mated used to look at me with pity and wonder. But one of them had more pity on me. He was Sri. S.Shanthilal son of Sri Saranga Pani a railway employee. Unlike me he was not a Brahmin. But a real friendship flowered between us. This continued till 1955 , when I was forced to leave to Kerala for pursuing my college education. We both cried a lot at that time. We did manage to write letters to each other for another 5 years. Shanthi , my friend, had to discontinue his education. He worked in a tea factory , near Secunderabad . In 1961, I was a student in a statistical Institute in New Delhi. At that time, I undertook a study tour and visited Secunderabad. I met my friend Shanthi and stayed in his poor house. We had a f great time. After this I never had any contact with my friend. Several times, I had gone to secunderabad in search of him but I could never trace him.

My friend Shanthi, It is so painful that I lost you. You were the first friend I ever had and your memory is still green in my heart. . Ra

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