Today, at the stroke of midnight, Amar turned sixty. We had never dreamt that we’d reach that age. On that night, when we did our own version of “Ye Dosti” on Bajwa’s mobike on the Marine Drive with both of us as pissed as Veeru was atop the water tank in Sholay, with speeds well past the sound barrier (well, it was correct; because we couldn’t have heard each other and we didn’t hear at all the traffic cop’s whistle), just one small obstruction on the Marine Drive would have finished our lives some thirty years back.
Hence, the very first thing that I have to tell Amar today is: Dost, my best pal, we are lucky to have survived so long. In your case, it is sheer goodwill that you generate around you that doesn’t let you be anything but the life of the party. Do you remember when we climbed the temple hill at Maddukkarai from the tortuous and dangerous rocky side? One small slip and we would never have dreamt to be sixty. Also, do you remember how we went to Ooty etc by the official jeep that we thought had only one useful instrument, that is, the accelerator.
Bajwa, Sir; truly for us life during those days (and even now sometimes), was a happy chance, a one act play: Hamara Drama. For those not knowing the story of this play, I’d take a few minutes to explain that we wrote a play on the making of a play for participating in the Command Dramatic Championship. The play itself more daring than most of our feats: to pull the legs of all in authority and get away with it; most of them sitting in the audience. Other than a few characters who momentarily came on the stage, this full-length play had only Bajwa and me as the actors. We walked away with the Best Play award; with me getting the Best Actor award. As soon as we finished getting the awards we drove from Cochin to Coimbatore on Bajwa’s mobike and celebrated till wee hours of the morning with countless bottles of beer. And then, after we were seeing a dozen of each other, we went for another “ye dosti” drives. This is when I fell off the bike and Bajwa kept relating his jokes to me rejoicing in not having me interrupt him to tell a better one. After nearly three hours we found each other again.
Anyone reading it so far would think that Amar and me were the most agreeable of the friends. Little would they know that the trick in keeping the lamp of friendship alive was to force a collective decision before the other could say “No”. However, after drinks, the mask of such geniality was invariably off and we were conscious of the fact that we have to make the other see reason, such as the way perceived by us. This invariably led to no holds barred fights between us and everyone would conclude that Bajwa and I had fallen apart like Humpty Dumpty. However, “ye dosti” sentiment would trouble us in the night to the extent that in the wee hours of the morning one or the other would tip-toe to the other’s room to check if all was well. There were occasions when we made up and went searching for dinner at about two in the morning.
Amar, Sir; you would always have the lead by a simple historical fact; that is, you were born two years before me; and hence you have beaten me to reaching sixty before me; and like I did in squash-racquets after having been beaten by you, I hold no grudge. I rejoice in your reaching the age of the metal: silver in your hair, gold in your teeth, iron in your diet and lead in your—-you know where. What do I wish for you for having accomplished this grand feat? Well, the most precious thing that I can wish for you is: Stay the way you are. Many can claim love, liking, respect, friendship, other relationship with you: but, I know and you know: ‘Todenge dum magar, tera saath na chhodenge”.
God bless you for having been the most intense influence of my life. At every age of yours you have been unique. However, Sixty is the age to be…all others before this were just plain matters of dates on calendar; now is when the fun starts: no one can blame a senior citizen of having a heart as young as a teenager that you have always maintained, and hence, you can get away with everything.
And….if you disagree with me for some of the lurid details above, I can always guess that you already had your drink!
Amar turns sixty today
The starting speed of his bike,
We have all gathered to wish him well,
Friends and relatives alike.
Happy Sixtieth, my friend,
Here’s wishing you all the best,
Lets just have fun, the way we did,
Without worrying about the rest.
Lets say a little thanksgiving pal,
To God who kept us alive;
Though we tried our best to reach Him,
When we went on our nocturnal drive.
May God always preserve your smile,
That has won many a heart.
And should you feel the pangs of age,
Let me tell you: it is just the start.
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