Alma mater always matters a lot, whether you’re in or out

Spice of Life: Stepping into the campus evoked a sense of déjà vu. Strolling around was akin to walking down memory lane
Years later, on leaving school as teenagers, our hearts go through the same tear-jerking feeling ironically for starkly different reasons. (Representative photo)
Years later, on leaving school as teenagers, our hearts go through the same tear-jerking feeling ironically for starkly different reasons. (Representative photo)
Published on Oct 07, 2021 01:09 PM IST
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ByUN Upadhaya

Our educational journey begins as toddlers with tears in the eyes and pain in the heart against the wish to attend school. Years later, on leaving school as teenagers, our hearts go through the same tear-jerking feeling ironically for starkly different reasons.

Built of cherry-red bricks, our school’s building was nestled in a beautiful nondescript town, Talwara, hemmed in by the undulating ridges of the Solah Singhi Dhar. The lush surroundings and manicured lawns offered a pleasing spectacle round the year. The security guard opened the gate only after learning that an alumnus had come to visit his alma mater after ages.

Stepping into the campus evoked a sense of déjà vu. Strolling around was akin to walking down memory lane, jammed with a gamut of emotions. The present paled into insignificance for the nostalgic mind was busy spinning its own tales of days gone by. Spending some solitary moments vividly brought about a refreshing world of the past before my mind’s eye.

The appearance of the morning assembly ground elicited a broad smile, reminiscent of my queer habit of turning left and right with closed eyes during prayer recitation, corrected by the then class teacher, who light-heartedly called me a fan turning without electricity.

Imagining myself as one among the students gathered outside the canteen, the rest seemingly transformed into my old friends sumptuously feasting on yummy bread pakodas and licking tangy chutneys off their fingers. So easy was it for me to visualise many of them smartly dressed in cream shirt and green knickers/skirts, engaged in long-winded conversations, punctuated with giggles.

The sight of the water-cooler under the stairs melted my heart into recalling how having played different games, we’d pool its chilled water into our palms before gulping it down to counter the summer blaze.

Entering our empty Class 10 classroom unleashed a flood of memories as the eyes went on to picture unforgettable madcap escapades inside the four walls. Our loud and lively laughter, full of life, resonated resoundingly in the room.

Standing on the ramparts, I got hallucinations as if the exams were going on! Only after exchanging three golden words, Best of luck, would we step into the hall. After the exam, ambivalent expressions would scan the faces of students who pumped their fists into the air for ticking a right answer by chance or getting disappointed for giving the wrong answer to a simple question.

The staff room transformed into a temple where our deities assembled to take periodic breaks. Not only did our teachers slap us on the face to discourage our wrongdoings, but they also gave congratulatory slaps on our backs to encourage our good deeds.

The silence of the corridor threw back loud echoes of the rapid staccato of our running boots on the polished floors against the rising toll of the stone bell calling it a day.

Having stopped by the woods on a summer afternoon, I willy-nilly stepped out of the gate with a heavy heart in total variance with my inner childish wish to stay there a little longer. It was too moving to reflect within that none of the peers had stood the sweeping vagaries of time. What trailed behind would just be tales; some told, many untold.

Soul-stirring and elevating, my stopover boldly underlined that a student might leave his/her alma mater, but the alma mater never leaves the student, rather it stays in the heart forever as indelible and priceless memories.

unsharma3116@gmail.com

The writer is an Una-based freelance contributor

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021