She was late, and from outside the hall she heard the sound of noisy revelry flowing. She entered, and heard everyone gasp, “Kamala, is it you?” came the lone voice of Premila, sounding much older but still familiar, after all Premila and she had sat next to each other for well nigh five years as best friends, till in the last year, their teacher fed up with their constant jabbering, and sometime whispering had separated them. But it didn’t look like Premila, it was an old woman, and suddenly she knew it was her old friend, now aged.
But the inaudible gasp was still there, broken by Vinod who burst out, “Kamala you’re the only one amongst us who hasn’t aged!”
And suddenly the room was buzzing again, “Tell me the secret of your youth?” asked Susan coming to her. “Looks like you’ve led quite a cushy life or you’re married to a make- up artist or beautician?”
Yes, tell us?” her old classmates clamoured, “Tell us why there are no worry lines or wrinkles like we have?”
“My husband left me two years after we got married!” said Kamala. There was a gasp, this time audible, she knew everybody was waiting for a fairy tale story, not a tragedy, but she plodded on. “Five years later I was diagnosed with cancer!”
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Now the murmuring, and curiosity to hear the rest of the tale was visibly palpable.
The class joker Kumar quipped, “You mean to say the secret to staying young is to live alone?” She heard others politely laugh.
“On the contrary, the secret to staying problem free,” she said, “Is to have a companion!”
“Aha you met some rich Ambani, or Rockefeller who took care of you, didn’t you?” asked Susan, as others chuckled.
“Yes!” nodded Kamala, “I did meet someone!”
“Tell us,” shouted Kumar again, “Who is this who’s kept you looking so trouble free despite having cancer and no husband? Who did you meet?”
“God!” said Kamala softly, smiling, “I met God, after my husband left, and from that same day every problem became His. My sickness, I handed over, and his daily companionship more than compensated for the lack of a man!”
“So you don’t mind being alone?” asked a voice full of envy.
“I’m not!” she said, “He’s with me, right now in this room!” And she smiled, young and beautiful, in a room of old classmates, and a God above smiled back at her!
She spent that evening telling her classmates about that Someone who now handled her life!
It was the caretaker who told the peon the next day, “They all came for their reunion old and tired, and left like happy young children, still in school..!”
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