Whenever I meet our students who had walked through the portals of our school years ago, I enjoy every word of their recollection of those golden days. The sparkle in their eyes, the excitement in their voices and the glow on their faces is unmatchable. And I know that they are a part of our school even if they are in different continents of the world. Students are always an integral part of my life. I don’t use the word ex- I just don’t like to - because past students too still belong to this school. I always wished I would be able to visit my school sometime. And I did !!!! I was in Kochi for a Conference and before I took a flight back home, I drove to my school -The Naval School- as I have known it.
I almost jumped out of a moving car, as we drove in to the front entrance of the school – my Alma- Mater. It was just the same – well, almost. As I sent my visiting card to the Principal, I waited outside his office excitedly. Right opposite was the stage where I have performed and also received prizes. The decorations seemed so much like then. Children in costumes were moving around while teachers were shouting hoarse giving instructions. I was informed by the peon that it was their Annual Day and I smiled, recalled the 4 Annual day performances that I had given on the same stage. The Principal called me in and as I introduced myself, he said,” Welcome, Ma’m, Nice to know that an ex-student is an educationist ” I smiled. And I spoke to him of my lovely teacher and the support staff, the functions and the school elections. I sought permission to click snaps, which he consented, adding that I should stay over as a special guest for the golden jubilee celebrations that was in an hour’s time. Very unwillingly I refused. I had a flight to catch. I saw the Honors Board which had my brother’s name scrolled on it – All India first. The only All India first till date. I called my brother and told him that none had broken his record yet. I felt like the little school girl once again.
When I walked out of the gate, I looked straight to see the backwaters. The huge wall came between me and the backwaters. I remembered when we studied, we sat on the grass with legs touching the backwaters, watching the sailors move in their boats and the yachts moving slowly with sailors waving to us cheerfully. We particularly enjoyed when the paragliders were in action. I don’t recall the Mughal Dynasty that was taught. We watched the birds chirping and were constantly distracted by creepy insects that moved. I owe my aesthetics to my history teacher, Mr. Kalidas, who always took us to our favourite spot. There were no boundaries then, limitless green pastures for cows and buffaloes. I loved it all. Modernity and practicality may have forced the authorities to have walls and security. Price we pay for prosperity!
The old gatekeeper’s parting words continue to ring in my ears ” I don’t know who you are but I heard the Principal say that you are a leading educationist. My heart is full. I am so happy that our student has made it big. I wish we had known ..you would have been the most ideal Chief -Guest for the Golden Jubilee Annual Day. And I also pray many more from this school become educationists like you.” Coming from an elderly person, I sought his blessings and drove away. I was emotional for the next ten minutes and reflected – when our students meet me, I experience a great sense of pride. If I had taught them, I recall the sessions we had, if not, I listen to their experience and feel it as my own – that is what a School is all about. The bond that we share with our students is much beyond recognition, power or money. Yesterday, the tables were turned – I could well imagine what must have gone through their minds – a sense of pride in meeting a fellow educationist – their student.
I can’t rewind the time -machine, so I did the next best thing - I played one of my favourites -The Carpenters – “Yesterday Once More”……..