Like most people on this planet, I belong to the social networking site, Orkut (and Facebook, but as I find it way too complicated and yet absurdly juvenile, I tend to mostly give it a miss). I joined back in 2006, on an invitation sent me by one of my colleagues, and since then have taken part in various communities, and found ‘friends’ from all over the world. But the best part of my Orkut foray was getting back in touch with several of my school friends and classmates, people whom I hadn’t seen – and sometimes hadn’t even thought of – for over 15 years, but people who, now I find, are as inextricably part of my life and memories as anyone can hope to be.
It began with delighted messages passed back and forth among a couple of us – that number soon grew, and now there are many of my classmates and friends among my list of ‘friends’ – some I was friends with in school and subsequently lost touch with; some with whom I stayed in touch with till a few years’ back, and am now thrilled to have found again; some I don’t remember, but our shared school bond makes that fact somehow irrelevant; some girls I wasn’t friends with in school, though I remember them clearly, but now, after a space of a decade and a half, find I have a lot in common with – and we catch up, talk about what we’re up to, talk about family, work, look through photographs and exclaim over how much someone has changed and how little someone else has.
Since my return to Kolkata, there have been talk of the few of us left in our city meeting up – those abroad have promised reunions when they come down, as they invariably will, families all having been left behind – but it took one of my friends who’s now settled in the US, and who seems to have the memory of an elephant where classmates are concerned, 15 years notwithstanding, to make it happen on her recent trip. Just five of us could make it, though – but since none of us had ever thought we’d see each other again, much less spend an evening together, we weren’t complaining! We met one wet, balmy evening last week at City Centre, the friendliest and nicest mall you ever could imagine – and it truly was an evening to remember. Apart from one of them, Trisita, the one who made it all happen, I wasn’t really friends with any of the others – but that somehow did not matter in the midst of the talk, the laughter, the ribbing, the joking, and endless – mone aches (do you remembers), the bizarre details that one remembered of old classmates who now hold solemn and responsible positions; and endless memories of our beloved school. We talked of other classmates that we were, collectively and singly, in touch with – and received news, some good and some not so good, of where life had taken them. What stood out, though, was how easy and comfortable we instantly were in each other’s company – and never mind that the last time we’d met we were in school uniforms, gawky, innocent teenagers all, at a time when life stretched out before us and the choices were endless and the possibilities boundless.
Photographs of our ‘reunion’ have become huge hits on Orkut, with all our other classmates professing themselves envious of us, and longing for a similar get-together. Those settled abroad but planning to come down in the near future have promised to meet up with the few of us here in Kolkata – and the ones in Kolkata who couldn’t be a part of the meeting are now clamouring for another. While I’m not really one of those tech-savvy, living-on-the-Internet kinds, I cannot but applaud Orkut for bringing us all together – schoolmates, I have come to realise, people you grew up with, people who were part of your most embarrassing, happiest, confusing moments, are probably among the few people in world ready to accept you as you really are.