Celebrating Friendship

Bureaucrat ASHUTOSH AGNIHOTRI pays tribute to his friends

It was an unfamiliar setting and intimidating to an extent
Where I found myself amidst several others, dressed alike,
Opening our novel pencil boxes, smelling the eraser’s fragrance
Smiling sheepishly, nervously touching our shirts and shorts
Not speaking to each other, but still communicating silently

Disciplined by the stern voice and assured by the lovely face
Of an equally nervous lady, trying to win delectable foes-
And she made us all rattle in discordant notes, the alphabet
Numbers and nursery rhymes- commanding gradually-
Asking us to rise and sit and keep our heads down
And memorise and recite what then appeared to be divine words!

And then you came to me, my dear friend, with your blue
Lunch box and sat next to me, sharing the cake and cutlet,
And taking from mine two pieces of biscuits, and you smiled
And almost involuntarily, my hand touched your shoulder
And yours mine, and how thereafter,we drank from the
Same water bottle and shared not just the tiffin, but almost
Everything- our weird, meaningless stories, our open secrets
Our ephemeral fights and our bonded fists against the other gang!

How joyous it is to remember, relive and recollect the time we spent
The games we played, the stories we heard and the lessons we learnt
How wonderful it was to grow up together in innocent times
When life was all about fun, frolic, fancy and friends,
Books, pencils, crayons, soiled shoes and sweaty vests
When we saw our limbs growing, voice changing
Hopes soaring, heart racing and bonds fastening.

I cannot give you a name, my friend, as you keep delighting me
As Chintu ,Anu,shri or Raju, Vikky , Neelu and keep giving me
More and more reasons to sing and smile, to feel comforted
Cheered, and reassured of a relation which is thicker than blood
And more meaningful than all the words taken together.
Wishing you all a very happy friendship day.

Ashutosh Agnihotri

Ashutosh Agnihotri

An IAS officer of 1999 batch, Ashutosh Agnihotri hails from Kanpur. He has a masters degree in English Literature. He is interested in Literature, both English and Hindi, Cricket and astrology. He is presently the Commissioner and Secretary, Planning and Development, Science and Technology, Tourism, Government of Assam.