Mani Quotes in Swami and Friends
Swaminathan gasped with astonishment. In spite of his posing before Mani he admired Rajam intensely, and longed to be his friend. Now this was the happiest conclusion to all the unwanted trouble. He danced with joy. Rajam lowered his gun, and Mani dropped his club. To show his goodwill, Rajam pulled out of this pocket half a dozen biscuits.
The company was greatly impressed. Rajam then invited everyone to come forward and say that they would have no more enemies. If Sankar said it, he would get a bound notebook; if Swaminathan said it, he would get a clockwork engine; if Somu said it, he would get a belt; and if Mani said it, he would get a nice pocket-knife; and the Pea would get a marvellous little pen.
Swaminathan reflected: suppose the Pea, Mani, Rajam and Sankar deserted him and occupied Second A? His father was right. And then his father drove home the point. ‘Suppose all your juniors in the Fifth Standard become your class-mates?’ Swami sat at decimals for half an hour.
At the end of the prayer the storm burst. With the loudest, lustiest cries, the gathering flooded out of the hall in one body. All through this vigorous confusion and disorder, Swaminathan kept close to Mani. For there was a general belief in the school that enemies stabbed each other on the last day. Swaminathan had no enemy as far as he could remember. But who could say? The school was a bad place.
Swaminathan began to cry. Mani attempted to strangle him. A motley crowd gathered round them, urchins with prodigious bellies, women of dark aspect, and their men. Scurvy chickens cackled and ran hither and thither. The sun was unsparing. Two or three mongrels lay in the shade of a tree and snored. A general malodour of hencoop and unwashed clothes pervaded the place.
‘Whom do you address as “boys”?’ asked Rajam menacingly. ‘Don’t you know who we are?’
‘We are the Government Police out to catch humbugs like you,’ added Swaminathan.
‘I shall shoot you if you say a word,’ said Rajam to the young driver. Though the driver was incredulous, he felt that there must be something in what they said.
Mani ran along the platform with the train and shouted over the noise of the train: ‘Goodbye, Rajam. Swami gives you this book.’ Rajam held out his hand for the book, and took it, and waved a farewell. Swaminathan waved back frantically.
Swaminathan and Mani stood as if glued where they were, and watched the train. The small red lamp of the last van could be seen for a long time, it diminished in size every minute, and disappeared around a bend. All the jarring, rattling, clinking, spurting, and hissing of the moving train softened in the distance into something that was half a sob and half a sigh.