Did it ever happen to you that you met someone and say ‘nah, I can’t gel with…’ and later he/she become your ‘buddy’. At first instance you find such person a bit self-centred, introvert, aloof to the world, or even egotistical; but as the time elapses they become part of your memorable life.
I met this unique piece about 24 years ago. I still remember my first meeting with this – a little over six feet tall – guy, landed just a day before on the soil of Patna from the interior of Bihar. Dressed in blue jeans, white-blue striped un-tucked shirt and leather slippers with a notebook in hand, this fellow on the bicycle looked almost like a ‘handsome villager’. During thirty-five minutes of ride to college, he spoke miserly with heavy ‘Bhojpuri’, a dialect of central Bihar, accent. He was Harmendra Kumar Singh, my classmate throughout college – from Intermediate till Graduation.
Harmendra was a spoiled single son of rich parents. No, he does not have any bad habit till now. Spoiled because he had lived his life in too comfort. He doesn’t even know, by then, that it requires gas (fuel) to cook food. When he shifted to Kolkata he had seldom washed his clothes. He used to bring them to his hometown for home-laundry every six months. He was a bit too ignorant about practical life.
He was good at studies with a capability to ‘read’ for as long as 20 hours but he never practised even book-keeping and accountancy. He used to learn by remembering problems and solutions. Harmendra was too simple and sharp with the brain but messy. You would hardly find a place to sit in his room. Table and bed full of books and notebooks. Most of the time you would find him parked in his chair. Whenever he felt sleepy he used to stretch his legs over the table and take a nap or come down on the floor over a bare mat.
Once we went to the Chapter Head Office of Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India. He wanted to join the coaching held there for his Intermediate course. He asked the President of the chapter who the faculties are. On getting the reply that the President himself coaches for two subjects and for others there are different professors, he immediately shot: “What is your qualification”. Later I tried to make him a bit courteous; he defended “haven’t you seen the qualification of author written in the very beginning of textbooks?” I felt as if I should bang my head on the wall.
On the other day, I was going somewhere, the temperature must have been 45O Celsius with summer waves. I saw Harmendra coming from the opposite direction with a handkerchief on his head. He said he was feeling hot so going to have a ‘Thums Up’. One kilometre walk in the sun to beat the heat! That was his zeal.
Harmendra was a little absent minded person if I may say so. One evening he went to a juice pushcart (cart) and ordered a two-eggs’-omelette. ‘And do not add chilli’ he insisted. The shopkeeper was stunned – “Omelette at a Juice Cart!!” He must have been thinking “From which planet he is coming?” The very next moment he directed him to the adjoining cart. Some other day it happened with a grocery (Kiryana Store) where he asked for a brief. Imagine! Undergarments at a grocery!
Kolkata is famous for its Durga Puja which runs for ten days. The beauty of puja is its idol and pandals. Whole night people visit these pandals to offer their worship to the Goddess and see the pujo-fair. We also went one day. When back, everyone was sharing their observation while Harmendra was like, “Do you guys really go to pandals to watch those idols? I go there to watch the girls.” [sic] Bang! He was fascinated about girls too.
He was getting married to a Doctor. I was invited there for his wedding ceremony. I had gone there from Delhi. Saw him in the same tie which he had worn in the other function. I asked him to wear another tie. Oh! He wasn’t having one. I made a failed attempt to buy a tie in the local village market. Then only I noticed he wasn’t wearing a belt too! The impossible manager, he would have been, I guessed.
He indeed got a beautiful, understanding and working wife. The couple is blessed with two kids now. And my friend is an AVP in a private sector bank.
There are a lot many things I could share about him, but let us keep them for some other time. Keep reading this section for more interesting real life characters.
The Friend’s Wednesday Series – No Pun Intended! ONE
The person portrayed above is real life character. The name has been changed to protect the identity.