THE ILLUMINATED FLAGPOLE
Kids, when I first joint my last school, in 2004, I had already spend three years in the Banyan City. My new school was creating waves everywhere. On the 7th day of the month that comes between MnM, I entered my new school. Well……very soon it became my second home, but more on that later.
I was an outgoing kid and never had problems making new friends. I joint as a seventh grader. In those days, there used to be four sections per class. I was put into the 7-C. My first few days were spent in exploring the school along with a couple of other newbies rather than interacting with the old students. One such day, I was walking behind (read:stalking) this attrociously pretty girl (well, I was hoping that she being a senior would take me to some hitherto unknown corner of the school. I had no other intentions), when she suddenly turned around. I later (after 30 seconds) found out that she had to go back to class, but my heart skipped a beat, wondering if the stalker (me) is now going to be ‘punished’. (Punishments are of two kinds you know :P). I turned around and quickly retraced my steps, when suddenly I ran into a…lighthouse? nah….electricity pole?…..nah……an illuminated flagpole (found the right phrase five! Whaddup!). He was a boy (well, still is), thin as an anorexic twig, tall (well…taller than me). It was a dark corridor but the twig-boy with a baby face seemed to be holding a torch in his mouth. But in fear of being ‘punished’ by the hot-senior girl, I denied my brain the chance to ponder over why the twig-boy (or for that matter anyone) would walk around with a torch in his mouth.
As fate would have it, I saw him several times in the coming days. I soon found out that it wasn’t a torch. They were his teeth. The twig-boy was always smiling. I have not seen him not smiling till date.
On my 8th day in school, I had a Social Studies class in the Social Studies lab (oh yes, we had a lab for SS). It was there that I found out that The Illuminated Flagpole was after all my classmate from the A Section. He was notoriously famous for always showing his set of 32 dazzling teeth (I wonder whether he uses white/ivory varnish to brush his teeth), eating more than most but still remaining like a twig and for well….always smiling that crooked smile. He was also an accomplished soccer player, who ‘boned’ everyone and stole the ball away and even after being violently pushed by his hefty comrades on the field, stood up smiling and letting loose a volley of well-chosen and deeply embedded-in-the-brain(stringing together old words to make a new phrase five!) expletives. Of course, while smiling. Photographs he would care to be a part of were priceless. His teeth lent an earthly glow to everyone standing around him. I also found out that he was quite popular among members of all 3 sexes and fell into the category of ‘true friend.’
The years piled on. I never quite spoke to my friend, the Illuminated Flagpole since we were seemingly in different worlds in the same universe. It used to be just acknowledging nods and sometimes ‘We’re both walking in the same corridor fives.”
But then came the year 2009. 11th Grade. You see kids, in those days, students were assigned a class in 11th grade on the choice of their 5th subject. Me and your Uncle K…i mean, Twig-boy both chose C++. I cannot recount how the next couple of months flew by, but suddenly, we were friends, fellow Manchester United fans and fellow class-wreckers. I knew he was always there alongside me, be it for bunking a boring class or for asking the teachers for a free period. Playing soccer with him was a different experience altogether. He learnt the lesson that being a boner (I said being, not getting) in soccer doesnt help with flesh-covered monsters like me(I was fat back then). Whats more, we had largely similar interests in both sports and music. In food, he ate just about everything. He had a pretty dumb and pretty girlfriend, owing to which the Illuminated Flagpole became one of our favourite verbal dart-boards. But with all this, there was an underlying realization. I had a new friend. Somebody around whom you can’t get bored. Someone you can trust to make your life hell for you if you make a fool of yourself. Someone you can trust with secrets (provided you know a few of his or else he’ll take every opportunity when you’re relatively isolated and tease you till you feel like tearing at your hair). Someone who, along with you can always come up with multiple meanings for things (boner has two meaning. So does lateral thinking). Someone without whom my school wouldn’t have felt like a second home, nor would tuition have been as much fun as it was.
This kids, is the story of How I Met Your Uncle Kunal. To me, he still remains the Illuminated Flagpole. Our friendship has grown since then. He has taught me that every cloud has a silver lining. If you’re to visit a funeral ever, remember to take him along. For even in front of the body of the deceased, he shall flash that smile of his, and shall treat you to a bottle of Mountain Dew on your way back home. Kunal, if you’re watching this, more about you AND your girlfriend later. Cheers five!