Over the next few weeks Aamir got busier by the day. Gradually Aamir and Sagar ended up spending less and less time together. Sagar seemed to have found a new friend.
Friends Forever marches on exploring school life, friendship, bonding and challenges.
Two weeks later the school reopened. Aamir had come a day earlier, as was his habit and had hoped that Sagar would be there too. However, Sagar arrived the next day. Aamir could talk to him only during lunch break.
“How were your holidays, Sagar? Were you very busy?”
“I wasn’t exactly busy. I played cricket, did some swimming, even though the water was pretty cold, and generally lazed around. I thought of ringing you up a couple of times but I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“In a way it is good that you didn’t give me a call. You wouldn’t have got me anyway. Abbu, Ammi and I went to Ajmer to visit the dargah of Moinuddin Chishti. It was Ammi’s idea. ‘After this you will get so involved in your studies that we might not be able to go out together for the next 3-4 years’, she said. By the time I reached, Abbu had made all the preparations. You know Sagar, this is the first time the three of us have gone together on such a long journey. It was great fun,” Aamir said, his eyes shining.
“Good for you, Aamir. You are now refreshed and can get down to some serious study. Remember, you have to beat Shantanu this time.”
“Yes, I know,” Aamir said as the two buddies walked back to the class.
Next evening Sagar was sitting in the common room watching TV when Aamir burst in.
“Guess what, Sagar! I have become the President of the Literary Club!”
“Hey dude, that’s fantastic news,” Sagar said pumping his hand.
“I have many plans to expand the activities of the Club and I’ll need your help.”
“My help? But I’m not even a member of your Literary Club, Aamir!”
“That’s exactly what I was getting at. Why don’t you become a member of the Club?”
“Come on, man! You know this literary stuff is something I’m not too keen on. And moreover, I’m already a member of the Sports Club.”
“But, Sagar, didn’t you tell me that the Sports Club is practically defunct and nothing ever happens?”
“That suits me. During the ‘Activities Period’ I go to the library and read old issues of Sports Illustrated or the biographies and autobiographies of sports stars.”
“But Sagar, if you are with me in the Literary Club we can do so much together.”
“I am not interested, Aamir,” Sagar said and the sharpness in his tone surprised Aamir. He looked carefully at Sagar who had gone back to watching ESPN. He looked a bit tense and also somewhat tired. He had dark circles under his eyes as if he hadn’t slept for days. Aamir wanted to ask him whether there was something wrong but decided against it. He sat for some time and then quietly got up and walked away.
Over the next few weeks Aamir got busier by the day. Apart from his academics there were other things which took his time. He started concentrating on the Literary Club. It was decided that the Club would launch its own monthly newsletter. Aamir had suggested a name for the newsletter and it had been accepted immediately. The newsletter would be called Synergy and would be edited, designed and printed in-house. While Aamir, by virtue of being the President, had been made the Editor, he had taken Pranab and Faryan from Class VIII in the editorial board. Aamir was to look after the compiling and editing aspects. Pranab, who was good with computers, and Faryan, who was a brilliant artist, were given the responsibility of designing the newsletter.
Aamir also had to pay a bit more attention to Gopal. In the last 7-8 months since Aamir had started teaching him, Gopal had shown remarkable improvement. He was a sincere, hardworking fellow who desperately wanted to study and do well in life.
“Gopal, the way you are picking up, I think you can appear for the Class X exam along with us. Of course, to do well you will have to work much harder,” Aamir told Gopal who could hardly believe his ears.
Gradually Aamir and Sagar ended up spending less and less time together. Sagar seemed to have found a new friend in Prabhat Chaddha. Prabhat had joined in Class IX after his father’s transfer from Bangalore. He was short and stocky and, like Sagar, was passionate about cricket. Aamir found him a bit snobbish but apparently Sagar liked him. Now, most of the evenings whenever Aamir looked for Sagar, he would be missing. Upon being asked, Sagar’s reply would invariably be, “I was with Prabhat.”
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