When I think back on my school days one incident comes vividly to my mind. It was the time the ex-president of my country talked to me.
The centenary celebrations of my school was being celebrated on a grand scale. Many dignitaries were invited to grace the different events that were being conducted as part of the celebrations.
One person who had won the hearts of the children and encouraged them to ‘dream’, was our honourable ex-president. He was a scientist, a thinker and the beloved of many Indians. He was the chief guest at our school that day.
A red carpet was laid out for him. The students lined the path he was to take to reach the dais.
The great man arrived and walked down the carpet, flanked by the school teachers, security and of course the pushy photographers.
He walked briskly for his age, his trade mark slightly longish hair flying about. He was smiling, accepting our salutations. Then the students put forward their hands in an attempt to shake hands with him and he obliged, touching their hands briefly as he walked by, very fast in his customary fashion.
Among all the palms eager to shake hands with him, was mine!
It was different from the other palms proffered to him, because mine was adorned with Mehandi designs.
The previous day as part of our religious festival, I had applied mehandi or henna design on both my hands and it was turning a bright maroon the next day. Among all the plain unadorned child-like hands, my designed hands stood out.
He paused in his stride right beside me, and pointing to my hand he asked,
“What is this, what is this?” ( I am sure he knew what Mehandi was, but questioned me anyway, just to tease me )
I stood startled. My tongue refused to move and I simply blinked and stared. My friend standing next to me came to my rescue and explained why my hand had those unique patterns.
The ex-president paused just a second to ask the question, receive my friend’s explanation and he moved on. In fact it was almost as if he had not stopped at all.
Then all my class mates surrounded me and laughed and joked and said, ‘Lucky you! The president talked to you.”
For many days after that I narrated the incident to all my family members and to everyone else who cared to listen, “The ex-president talked to me.”
When the photographs of the day’s events were published in the school notice board, I searched and searched. But there was no picture of the great man talking to me.
You know something?
The ex-president of my country talked to me.
But I did not talk to him!
This is what I rue to this day.
Story By Roshan.
Written By Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo
PS: Mehandi or henna is a traditional art in which hands and feet are adorned with a paste made from powdered leaves of the henna tree. It looks like tattoo but is temporary. The colour fades slowly in a few days.