My school, Narendrapur RamaKrishna Mission Vidyalaya, (Class 5-10/1993-99) holds its alumni reunion every alternate year on the Christmas day. This time, it was the golden jubilee reunion. And I wasn't too far from the place so I decided to go. I wasn't expecting much. I am not in touch with many of my school friends of those times. And many of them weren't around Kolkata that time. I did call up a friend a day before the reunion and found that they are coming as well. I thought I won't be alone, and that would be a good thing.
The next day it seems I was among the first one among the batch to reach there. I called that friend again but he said he can't come. Anyway, I did see some other friends and talked to them for a while. It was all, what are you doing now, how you have been all this while and a little of do you know what that person is doing. Nothing exceptional. It felt good to be with old friends after a long time, but I didn't know what else to do. I am not a very interesting person and hence if you don't have anything to say to me, or ask me, chances are that we will be quite quiet in our conversation. That's what was happening most of the time.
After sometime I was separated from them as I had come to the place with a friend not belonging to the school and another from a different batch. And basically we didn't have much in common to talk, about the school. I went with them to have lunch and went around the campus. This is when I thought that for a person like me, reunion or just a visit back to the school may not be the most fruitful if I meet the MOST number of friends. Because if I am in a group, all we talk about interesting events which had happened in the past, none of which involve me. Reading this previous post here would help. (Am I being selfish here? Of course I am. So what?) When I was away from all the batchmates of mine it was different! I could feel everything. I could feel everything the way it always was.
I was walking around the campus and all the while I could see myself as a kid everywhere. There was nothing special about anything I saw. But I guess that's what's nostalgia. The kind of things which I was remembering were:
- Cleaning my room everyday and arranging my bed.
- Getting late to class sometimes
- The tabla teacher who used to get away teaching nothing
- The blind tabla teacher who taught us more in a year, than the previous teacher did in 5 yrs
- His blind friend, who used to teach Sitar and their touch watches!
- The little stationery store where we used to buy stuff filling requests slips, approved by the warden
- The time when I bought an underwear 4 to 5 times bigger size than mine and didn't return
- The time when we used to play near the press which printed our question papers, which by the way never got leaked
- Taking bath in the open, under a 4 floor tall water tank
- Playing football in the fields, bare foot, with wooden goal-posts
- Queueing up outside the fields to wash our feet after games and then in bathrooms to have a bath
- Boring functions attended in the 1500 seater auditorium
- Watching Lion King on the majestic screen in the auditorium, but missing the first half because I was out for a Maths quiz, which I didn't win. Dibya Jana would always be in the team from our school to get through the stage. I only participated.
- Saraswati Puja in the assembly hall
- Programs in the space adjacent to it
- Long chat sessions in our rooms, often after lights were compulsory switched off, and sometimes getting scolded by warden for it
- The time when I took the Maths class, on teachers' day, I had planned a quiz but Sir made me teach a theorem as he would on the black board. I was his favourite. I met him this time, but not sure he remembers me as that student. He just asked which batch. I just stood in front of him for sometime not knowing what else to say... I had no words
- Sleeping in study halls
- Sleeping in prayer halls, we used to hit the person in front and sometimes at the back while swinging in sleep!
- Wearing Dhoti for some 1000+ times over the 6 years
- Doing the monthly duties, block leader, prayer hall duty, dining hall food serving duty (where you would be fed very well, after your duty is over), surrounding cleaning duty (cleaning around the campus on Sundays)
- Saraswati Puja visarjan parade, where one of us was thrashed up by the Principal for singing Hindi songs and dancing to them. The Principal, Ashokda, or Sw. Satyatmananda never lost his cool. That was the only time we saw this side of his
- And the time when a friend thought he didn't have a good hair cut and took the scissors in his ow hands, and went chop chop. Realized that he had made it worse and that his scalp was visible at the front and put shoe polish there. Some chemical reactions and his hair was green. Well this guy had actually come to the reunion and I was narrating this incident to my friend in front of him. He insisted that it was water paint and not shoe polish but I am telling you, I didn't make up any part of the story myself!
I knew no one would be moved to hear all this. So I kept most of these to myself. But then I reached my class 6 hostel. Read the notice boards. Saw the students marks displayed. Read the wall magazines. And then saw that one of the rooms were open! And on the first bed there was a Tabla left open. I couldn't stop myself. I sat there and started playing whatever shit I could remember. Must have been some 9 years since I had touched one. Of course I couldn't play anything good. Would have scored just pass in the tests had I been that bad then. But never before did a Tabla gave me this much fun. I was playing there with my friend sitting next to me, and both of us could make out that there wasn't much I knew. But it brought a smile to my face. I felt content. I wished I remembered more and could play for hours together sitting there. Actually my love for music started with Tabla classes back in school. Still now when I listen to some song I follow the beats more than anything else. For me it is mostly about percussion.
This is how your childhood gets ingrained in you. Little things you do shape your likes, dislikes, interests, intellect, competence, everything. There are somethings that get internalized. Like things that we become a part of and they become a part of us, without really understanding, why, how, when, what...
So what makes my school the best school is not the curriculum, the faculty, the infrastructure: but just the fact that it is mine.