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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

New Year Day: 1954

Amarjit Singh Hayer   December 31, 2012
First Published: 10:58 IST(31/12/2012) | Last Updated: 11:00 IST(31/12/2012)

In old age, one's mind often goes back to the memories of childhood and youth. Many memories of those periods of life are stored in my mind, but some, especially of college life, are recorded in the diaries that I wrote then. Here, I reproduce the excerpts from the entry of January 1, 1954.

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"The day dawned bright, fresh but cold. All that was ugly was washed by rain and buried with the dying year. Everything smelt sweet. Coming events cast their shadows before; the New Year morning foretells that the year will be pleasant and happy.

JD (Janardhan Dutt, who was my classmate and best friend) came at eleven. He was happy extraordinarily because he was expecting Raj (the girl he was in love with) to arrive by the afternoon train. We talked about films, books, and girls. He insisted that I should accompany him to the railway station. We reached there at 2pm, though the train was to arrive at 3.15pm.

The railway station bustled with life. Welcomes and farewells, and students with their pockets full of money, carrying tins of ghee from their villages because the colleges were reopening tomorrow. Among them were many girls but the one we were waiting for, Raj, did not arrive.

Hoping against hope, we went to Chaura Bazaar to look for her there. At 5.30pm, JD was disappointed and sad, and he left. I had hardly bid him adieu when I met Lakhbir (my classmate from the middle school who was then in the army). It was a pleasant surprise because we had met after a year.

We sat in my room, dined and strolled on the college grounds, and then we decided to see a film; it was "Laila Majnu", at Deepak. We saw some girls moving upstairs so we bought the balcony tickets. We found neither the girls good-looking nor the picture interesting.

After the show, we went to the railway station. Lakhbir's train was to depart at 3.15am. The night was chilly and the platforms deserted. They seemed to be missing the hustle and bustle of the afternoon. It taught me a lesson: that warmth and gaiety are followed by chill and desolation.

After seeing off Lakhbir, I returned to my room, to the comfort of the quilt. It was a happy day overall, spent in the company of two dear friends… also received New Year cards from Harbans, Rachhpal, Kulwant, and Kabul.

Lakhbir and JD are no more. I am left with some sweet memories of their friendship. JD's ladylove was married off to someone else. He and I saw the movie "Muneemji" at Naulakha together. He would sing Kishore's song from this film to give vent to his sorrow:

Jiwan kay safar mein rahi
miltey hain bichhar janey ko;
aur dey jatey hain yaadein
tanhai mein tarrpaney ko.
Often, I hum the song in his memory.

ajhehar@gmail.com

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