“Hey! What a surprise? How are you buddy?”, said a man in his late 30s.
He had spotted a nicely trimmed beard and mustache and had dressed formally as if he had attended a face-to-face interview. I, still perplexed, gave a benevolent smile with a puzzled look on my face. This gesture was received with an enthusiasm by him. He quickly moved away and stood aside the pathway to engage in further conversation with me. I reluctantly followed the suit. He started with compliments on my health (over-weight) and then highlighted the evolutionary change in the pattern of my hair (receding) with a recurring focus on my head. By this time, I had come to terms with reality in life. So, I maintained a smile and broadened my lips, at times, exhibiting teeth as an acknowledgement to his discoveries. He started with the genesis of our acquaintance at school and continued to talk about endless stories which I was not a part of. I had followed him for first few stories with the same expression – a smile often accompanied by display of teeth.
Suddenly, I felt butterflies in my stomach. I wanted to contribute to the stories but there was one hitch – his name! I was showing my best poker face to conceal the trouble that I was going through recalling his name. How difficult could it be? I had surely seen him in my class during school days. Although, I had never noticed much of him. This train of thoughts wasn’t helping. I must recollect his name before making this very situation a funny story for him to share with others. The harder I tried the more difficult it became. It kept getting worse. My face was turning pale. I had lost the smile and there was no display of teeth. I decided to admit the truth.
It was right then when a string of words from his story caught my ears and brought forth a vivid image of my school days. It was my moment of clarity. I was writing a name on the black board using a pink colored chalk and a duster in other hand. It was the first name in the list of 5 names; the title of the list – Black list. His pat on my shoulder jolted me and I returned to the present frame of time. I shook his hand and congratulated him on the job offer. Before we parted, I asked him for his phone number and saved with his real name in my diary.