Ad-filmmaker Amitabh Reza
Courtesy: Amitabh Reza
I was always the one getting up to pranks. School for me, was just another synonym for fun. Those years at the B.A.F Shaheen School and College brim with good times and the best companions. I would like to think I was the smart one too, mostly because I rarely had to face the brunt of my classroom antics.
I contracted polio at a very early age. During recess, the boys would waste no breath staying indoors, and the girls would either stay in the classrooms or drift to convenient corners to engage in chirpy conversations. I had difficulty walking and inevitably ended up making more friends with the girls in my class. The disease did not allow me to do the things usual for a boy my age, but I had the knack to turn the circumstances around to suit me. Teachers would hold out extra affection for me, while the girls liked my company, probably because I wrote poems! I was a happy-go-lucky child, and a sure devil at sparking trouble. Once I excused myself out of class and rang the bell an hour earlier than school ended. My legs would never let me down when it came to sneaking out of the school boundaries. I can think of countless times hopping smoothly over the walls and into freedom. I did get caught once before being released without much ado, but I remember that particular Sir saying, “I know your legs very well now!”
I enjoyed Bangla and Sociology classes. I found immense pleasure at writing and reciting poetry. My first recitation on stage was in class 8 and I enjoyed the few minutes I was up there to the fullest. Class 8 was perhaps my naughtiest year. Together with five other friends, we started a photocopied circulation of our own handwritten paper that we titled Shoitan Shompadok. It was entertaining while it lasted!
College years were full of activities. I spent time debating, reciting and endorsing my views in politics. Life took a different turn when I left for Pune University in Pune, India to study Economics. The heated debates with friends were left while my ideologies stuck with me. It was of course, a different world out there. The thing I enjoyed most about university was how it offered the opportunity to blend in people from all backgrounds. Being the outgoing kind, I loved meeting people more than anything else. There were times when concentration would fly out the window while we studied late into the night before an exam. The quickest remedy then would be to take our bikes out and follow the mountain trails for some fresh night air. It always worked!
My interest in movies and filmmaking took flight in those years I spent at Pune. In my freshman year, I watched nearly 800 movies. Every now and then, I would quietly find my way into a class at the Film and Television Institute of India, near my university. I found friends there too, while sitting at the very end watching a short film and sometimes, drifting into whispered conversations.
Growing up comes with the price of losing friends sometimes. There are individuals I wish to reconnect with. My first friend from school, Shajeeb, who I have not seen in years, wrote to me a few years back. I was elated! There are still others who I want to search out from the lost days of my student years.