Rarely we come across people, especially your own peer, who also turns out to be your mentor cum inspiration.
Krishna Prasad was one.
But for him, I would have ended up being one of those shit heads whose world started and ended with academics. Those high scoring bright students, darling of the school teachers, who after qualifying best of the professional examinations, end up being part of the crowd of morons, with no real identity. Those super achievers, who always had the brightest of their life at school thereafter getting eclipsed by the more ecletic blokes (hitherto regarded as duds).
Krishna was the key to the locked doors of my mind. He was the one who helped me think beyond study books. When the whole of class used to discuss either exams or movies or sports (cricket), Krishna used to discuss world of other topics. We used to discuss history and poetry, plus the usual guy talk. There were religion, life style, automotives, women, word plays, food, movies, books, ideologies, world wars, anthropology and what not. The idea of General Knowledge, I probably relearnt from him (my first heroes were the first teachers, in this regard)
Fiercely independent in his thought, he used to question most of the rituals of our social system. His words gave shape to my thoughts.
And he had style. His English was the best in the class, and even at the most advanced level (which is now), mine is a good distance behind his quality, style and refinement. Chap had a fantastic way with words.
He was also the master of one liners, wise cracks and intelligent pranks. Usually silent, all he does is a simple nod for any jibes on him. When he speaks out, acid spurts out, but it will be laced with truck loads of humour that the entire class would erupt in laughter. He will wait for the appropriate moment to strike, and boy, he strikes very hard. Having experienced once, I can say that with confidence. Though might sound sarcastic or sadistic, some people (including yours truly) understood the language of dogs only.
It was in our Class XI. Krishna was the only person in our class who used bring Bread Sandwich to the school. His rectangular tiffin box had space only for three or four sets of sandwiches. We used to be a group of five - me, Prasad (KP), Pradeep, Patrick and Jose. We used to jump into his tiffin box whenever he brought sandwiches. For all his independence and friendliness, KP certainly didn't appreciate our excitement. He had warned us enough, especially me, for I used to say "Fantastic da" for his sandwiches.
One fine day, he had brought sandwiches. As usual I jumped into it. KP was unusually silent. The sandwich tasted different. It was not spicy, but still felt spicy. The paste felt like a pack of broken chips. It was "kur kur" to munch.
"Its different da"
"Mujhe patha hai"
"Whats it da?" I was asking him through filled up mouth.
"Finish it, Sai Bhai."
I finished it in a whiff, and asked again, "Are yaar, ab to bol."
"That was chicken sandwich". Saying that he started casually eating the remaining sandwiches. Other guys burst into laughter.
"It was good" was all I could mutter. I am a vegetarian (Atleast supposed to be).
"Want one more?" The laughter grew louder. Never thereafter I laid my hands without his permission.
That's KP. Playing around him will be only on his terms. He was sharp. He had a fantastic sense of humour. He had a terrific style. Without him I would probably still be thinking that what I wrote was English, which would have put even Lalu to shame. He was my dictionary. He was my tutor of English (whatever bad it is now, don't blame it on him. Without him it would be much worse). He was the real inspiration.
From using abusive words in Tamil for over five years, I graduated to foulmouthing in English, thanks to KP. "Cha" was replaced by "Oh Shit" and slowly to "Oh F@#%". (Abusive words are invariably the first step towards learning a new language). After five years of ruining my English by awarding me 95 Marks in English Paper (when I attempted only for 90), thankfully atleast for two years of High School, Manoharan (sucker of a teacher) was not around. And for the first time, my English was tuned for good by KP (and of course Radhika Madame).
Though a classmate only for two years (high school days), he has had a tremendous impact on me.
Thanks KP, for everything. This is for you.