N. P. Upadhyaya, Biratnagar
Childhood day’s friendship counts and remains in memory for long time to come. One feels pleased as and when he or she is reminded of his or her own child hood school years. It is this age, whether it is in the school or in the society that provides with enormous pleasure even at times of distress.
Since I too was a student of one Biratnagar school and thus I too had several school days friends. We played. We quarreled with each other simply because we were in our tender age without knowing even as to why we were quarrelling? Yet, at times we studied together and shared our gained knowledge with each other. We felt pains if one or two of our intimate friends remained absent from school for quite some time.
I think that my readers also would have the same experience as I had in my school days. Some may have several friends and other may prefer to have a small coterie of friends.
I don’t remember as to which year it would have been but what I vividly recall is that late Prahlad Yonjan and I studied in the same school beginning class four or five up to ninth grade. It could be the year 1958-59.
I faintly recall that after the successful completion of the ninth grade, Prahlad left for Kathmandu where his father, Pahalman Singh Yonjan, had been transferred to occupy a senior most post in the then Police administration.
We were told later that father Yonjan was very close to then King Mahendra.
Needless to say, Prahlad’s father was a disciplined police man with a frightening but yet with a lovely moustache. I recall Prahlad’s father was more than an average Nepali with a bulky yet a tall personality. We used to see father Yonjan from a distance as we were afraid of his towering but yet disciplined personality and never tried to be around him.
But he was a kind hearted senior Policeman and since he knew that we were his son’s classmates and thus he used to ever encourage us all to, like his own sons, to keep ourselves engaged in study to the best we could.
Since he was a Policeman so we could rarely meet him in his house on the way to today’s Rani area in Biratnagar. The Indian border town, Jogbani, was hardly a kilometer from his house in the South.
So I and Prahlad were school days friends. We remained as good friends to each other till were in the school for some five years or so.
Prahlad, I must admit, was not only brilliant but a hard working student. Perhaps he was the class topper each year in the annual examinations. He used to tell me “Narendra! You must double your study hours as I think you have not so far given proper attention to your school home works”.
He knew each day as to how I was taken to task by my English and Math teachers. It must have pained him, I presume.
And he was talking sense in that I was a resident of a village, far from the school, and the roads to the school from my village must not have been less than six or seven kilometers. Now the same village is hardly a 15 minutes’ walk to the town. The village is now the ward number 16 of Biratnagar Municipality. Things have changed for better at present.
Well that was my personal story.
As the years went by, I and Prahlad became very close to each other to the extent that I made it a routine affair either to pick up Prahlad from his home in the morning and go to the school together or if that could not be made then I used to see him off at his private residence after the school and used to reach my home in the village crossing several dirty canals and hundreds of hectares of land. That was almost a routine affair. Prahlad though resisted to my act but he too never said no to my day to day affair. Perhaps he too had abundant love for me.
He was cute. A fair complexion as is the whiteness of the milk. A modest yet talent laden boy at the same time a disciplined one.
I recall, he was the most liked one student in the entire class by his teachers. The teachers used to ask him questions when others would have failed. And here Prahlad was with the correct answer. He received Kudos from practically all of the teachers.
I once again admit very frankly that it was my long association with Prahlad Yonjan that I too began taking some interest in gardening affairs which still continue to some extent.
Since Prahlad’s home compound was comfortably spacious and so he had enough space for planting a variety of flower plants.
I recall Prahlad gave me the plants of Beli, Chameli, Crotons and some Rose plant cuttings.
He later studied in Kathmandu. I missed him for several months and decades.
When I came to Kathmandu to carry out my advanced studies, I used to hear of his name but never have had an opportunity to meet him in person and recall the good old days events.
In the year 2001, somebody told me that Prahlad is now a highly qualified environmentalist and is taken in Nepal as an expert of so many disciplines pertaining to preservation of Tigers. Later I knew that he was the one who could establish that even in high Himalayas, snow Tigers could be found. In fact he located one Tiger in the high mountains of Bhutan.
The more I used to listen about him; my desire to see him in person grew accordingly. However, I could never meet him after we departed from the school in Biratnagar.
Yes! I did meet him only he had already left for his heavenly abode. He was killed in a Bi-cycle-Heavy vehicle collide. I saw his photograph. I could instantly recognize his face.
I have simply no words on how to pay my last homage to my school days friend. The more I see his photographs the more I am reminded of this cute face that he had.
Well dear Prahlad! Our meeting in Biratnagar was all for us perhaps. Since you have already said goodbye to this material world, all I can do is to pray the Almighty to grant you eternal peace. But I still remember your younger brother who used to chase us while we were on our way to the school where he too was admitted.
Rest in peace dear Prahlad-the departed soul. You made a place in history whereas I am just what I was in my school days. No comparison with the height that you attained after school days. I salute your vast knowledge.
Will you Prahlad! be kind enough to tell me even now “Narendra work hard…you are still a duffer villager…” (Photo Courtesy: The Reporters Weekly)