He had the most strange and the longest names in our school. Of course I am not talking about Rancho of 3 Idiots. His full name was Raja Ranendra Pratap Pritendra Narayan Mishra. That’s five names in one. All our teachers used to refer him as RRP in short. For some he was RRP-PNM. When I first got a chance to interact with him, I asked the mystery behind his name. He said, it is because of his father, mother and the family tradition. Actually, all male members of his family had names like blah blah Narayan Mishra. His father was Samarendra Narayan, grandfather Amarendra Narayan, and great grandfather Jitendra Narayan. And here he was, the most aspiring, one and only son of a very opulent family, Pritendra Narayan. Then what about the RRP part? I asked curiously. He said, this was because of his mother’s side. His mother was the only daughter of Jnanedra Pratap, who in turn was son of Virendra Pratap. I said, ok, ok, I got it. Now I understood that, his name was the unison of the two families. Since he was the only heir from both families, he had to carry both the names. But what about the Raja part, he used to laugh a lot on hearing this. He said, on his birth, the two families had an argument on what to call him, to resolve the conflict his mother decided that,
she will call him raja and nothing else. But eventually that became a part of his name and it still prefixes the whole name. I used to laugh at this and jokingly say that, see PPN (I used to call him by this name only) earlier you struggled to have a name but now you have the longest name that to comprising of five different names, you must be a lucky guy. PPN just used to smile.
In fact, he was the luckiest boy, only child of a physics professor at the university and a his mother was doctor. He had all the qualities that a boy of his age should have; he was taller than other boys in the school, and the most handsome. He was very good at studies and damn good at sports too. The most beautiful girl of our class was also with him. I always used to envy him in all aspects. I tried my best to be first in the class but he was simply the best, and I came second to him always. But he was one of my best friends in those days. After 5th standard, our family moved to a different part of the city and his also moved to the nearby town due to his mother’s transfer. So our schools were different now. I moved to a new school made new friends but nobody was as close to me as PPN.
After few months there was a inter district quiz competition organized by the Rotary club and every school nominated two students for that. I was nominated from my school and went to the nearby town for that. As per my expectation, PPN was there. We met after a long time and shared our happenings. He told me about his popularity in new school to envied me more, but inside me I knew that he was telling the truth. He was such a boy that anybody would like him. In the quiz competition, I was ahead of him in history, geography and civics rounds, but he simply took over me in sports and current affairs rounds. I had no other option but to come second. During those days, I was not allowed to watch TV for long time, but he boasted about the new serials coming on DD which I had no idea. After this competition, we met quite often usually through inter school competitions where he always used to be the winner. Winning was his habit. In the 10th board exams, he was the topper of the district and I came behind him by 12 marks. Now his family had moved to the same town and we were again classmates at the junior college. The college was about 12 kms from our town and a college bus was there to carry students from our town to the college. Usually the bus becomes overcrowded and students had to travel on the roof. But for PPN it was a daily practice to travel rooftop even if there was room inside the bus. Sometimes I thought that, he just wanted to showoff his machismo by doing something like that.
Here in college also, he was the intelligent brat with whom nobody dared to mess. And girls followed him where ever he went. After 12th I decided to apply for the JEE exams but at the same time did not want to loose one year. So I enrolled for BSc. In Chemsitry. I asked PPN what about you, he blantly told that, he simply hates chemistry and in fact the very thought of the term chemistry reminded him the foul smelling laboratories. His love was physics, the royal subject. Subject of scientists like Einstein, Raman and Newton. I used to correct him that, Newton was a mathematician not a physicist. He used to make mockery of me that for rest of my life I have to be in foul smelling laboratories and figure out differences between ferrous and ferric. PPN was very strong in mechanics, permutation, combination and trigonometry which I always fumbled to understand. On the other hand, I had a special interest for chemistry and coordinate geometry which he could not figure out. So we decided to help each other and prepare commonly for the exam. Our house was at a corner of the city and his was in a central place. So I used to come to his place by cycle and we used to study together. Mostly it was in between 12.30 to 5.30 in the after noon after lunch. His house was a palatial bungalow type with all the amenities. He had everything at his disposal. I also used to enjoy his company very
much. With his one order, juice, milk shake, ice cream or simply bhel puri used to come to us. During those days cable TV was really an asset and very few house holds had that. One of my main attractions to come to PPN’s house was cable tv and of course the delicious shakes. But somehow we used to squeeze time out and study for 2-3 hours but obviously not more than that. PPN preferred to discuss with me the upcoming movies and private albums and their stories. We used to watch MTV, channel V which was a rage during those days, of course even now also it is much adored, but during those days it was a different feeling watching foreign channels in our TV sets.
When the dates of the entrance exam came closer, I realized that I had hardly gained anything from the study which was obvious because of the various sources of distractions. But to my surprise, PPN had grasped everything of chemistry and geometry. In last few days he did try his best to make me understand the topic, but I just mugged up things rather than understanding the subject. Finally we appeared in the JEE exam. PPN joined BSc physics classes and I joined the chemistry just to keep in touch with studies. Though I was not sure of getting a govt seat he was pretty sure of the same. Finally the result came and I got 2200 rank where as PPN got 350. I decided not to go for engg with this poor rank and pursued my BSc. PPN was in a fix. He had two choices. He could have gone for a good college with civil engg discipline or so so colleges with good discipline. He chose the first one. Those days civil engg was not in much demand and not many campus selections were done for the branch. But I used to tell PPN that, he is so lucky that, even if only one campus selection came from the entire state in civil engg, it would be for PPN. PPN moved to the hostel and I was engaged in my BSc studies and got little chance to chat with him.
After 4-5 months, I met him on a train to the capital. He was looking as usual very happy to see me and we exchanged some of our old school memories. Before getting down he told me to keep in touch. This was the last time I saw PPN. Ya its truly unbelievable na? But it was true. The story followed as, in the month of September, 1999 I along with some friends went on an excursion trip to southern India. Just when we had arrived home, the super cyclone rocked the entire state. For 3 consecutive days the cyclone wrecked havoc and we could not move out of our home. On the 4th day morning I went out to the market for buying grocery and vegetable where I heard some people saying that, some professor’s son is missing. Next day morning one of our school friends came to me told that PPN is no more. At first I thought he was just joking but when he narrated the whole incident I was dumbstruck.
PPN was a very brave boy but the only drawback of him was that he was very homesick. At the start of the super cyclone, he decided to come back home from engg hostel. During that cyclone night he managed to get lift from somebody and came to our town. But their bike was washed away in the overflowing river waters. His body could only be recovered after 3 days and identified by the birth marks only.
For me PPN was always the smiling boy with blue eyes and thick hair and glowing skin. How could I change that image? For me he is and will be the luckiest boy among all others. Now also after so many years the memory of this incident and my sudden loss of my best friend remained me skin tight.