It was 3 o’clock ! About four hours since the music had stopped. The clanging of the school bell every three quarters of an hour gave a pretty good idea about when the school was likely to get over for the day.
The sound of the bell was now followed by that of children getting ready to leave for the day- As squeals and shouts of young voices, filled the air, she closed the door to her flat and made her way downstairs towards the school.
Standing outside the school gates she watched the children coming out. She wondered if she should go inside the campus to look for him.
After about fifteen minutes she decided she would go inside. It was unlikely that she would get any worthwhile information about Madhav from the watchman at the gate.
“Excuse me sir, can you tell me the way to the school administrative office?” she asked the old watchman.
“ Go straight down and turn right. First room at the corner” he said waving her inside.
She walked down feeling rather conscious about herself. It had been ages since she had left school. Unlike other women of her age , she hadn’t rediscovered it as a mother yet.
Why, she hadn’t even discovered motherhood ….! She shook her head, bringing herself back to the present.
The administrative office was dotted with people- the staff, some teachers, parents and students. Padma stood outside wondering how she should go about asking her question. Mustering up some confidence she walked up to a woman seated behind a desk and said.
“Hi, I would like to admit my child in this school. Can I have a prospectus and an application form?”
“ Admissions for the new academic year start from next month. Please pay Rs 200 for the form and prospectus” she said depositing an envelope in front of Padma.
“Thank you” said Padma pulling out her wallet and taking out a Rs 500 note
As the woman was looking through her drawer for the change she asked casually. “ Do you have music classes for children here? My child is interested”
“Yes of course, we do. Madhav sir comes here twice a week to teach the children to play the flute” said the woman fishing out the change.
“Madhav…. Do you mean Madhav Menon ?” asked Padma carefully.
“Yes. Do you know him?” asked the woman looking at her .
“Oh .. a little bit! He was in my college. When did he start teaching music here ?” asked Padma
“I don’t remember. May be two to three years ago. I have been working here only for a year now” said the woman.
“Do you have his contact details?” she asked, her heart beating loudly.
“We do. But then we cannot give it out to anyone like that” said the woman.
Padma turned around to leave, trying to hide the disappointment on her face.
“Madam, please wait . You can leave your name and address here. I can pass it on to him if you wish” called out the woman, extending a small notepad towards her.
With shaking fingers, Padma wrote out her name and address. There was no telephone number yet that she could share.
As she started walking out from the room towards the gate she heard a young voice call out to her. It was a boy, about twelve years old who had been standing outside the office overhearing her conversation.
“Aunty, I have Madhav Sir’s phone number?” he said.
Taking a notebook out of her bag she scribbled down the number. She smiled at the little fellow and thanked him.
“Aunty, Sir is a very nice person. He pays my school fees here” said the boy looking at her seriously.
She nodded. No one needed to tell her that. His passion to help less privileged people was almost the same as his passion for music.But he rarely spoke about it. Like everything else about him it was camouflaged behind his unorthodox exterior. A facet of himself that he revealed only to those who he considered close.
She had been one of those few who had seen and experienced that side to him. But sadly, it hadn’t given her the courage to follow her heart..
( From Shuddh to Teevra next )