A good forth of the last century was still remaining when we passed out of the school. And before we realized it, we have almost completed the first decade of the new century! Such is the velocity of time. I know, I’m going to be joined by many, when I say ‘it almost feels like it happened only yesterday.’
Straight from a small and sleepy town of Maharashtra, called Solapur, one day I arrived into this revered seat of academic excellence—then called Parle Tilak Vidyalaya, now too known by the same name but with a small suffix- ‘Marathi Medium.’ But thinking about it deeply, this suffix has literally created all the confusion. Why? Because, the other part of the school is suffixed with-‘English Medium!’ Lives in our times were relatively simpler—we were just proud to be the students of Parle Tilak Vidyalaya with no further frills!
Anyway, I was reminiscing my school days. The thoughts just meander, every time I indulge in this exercise, knowingly or unwittingly. I get images in front of me of my friends, my teachers, my school ground, my classrooms and each picture pumps-in loads of energy in me. It simply makes me feel like a child. A picture of receiving punishment slaps or may it be a picture of falling in love at sweet sixteen—both energize me no end. And then I think about it more, only to realize that every such moment recreated, appeals to a child in me and reassures him that my clocking-in years in age is just a biological facade! It also reassures me that I can become a child and face life with innocent curiosity and vigour whenever I feel like. Wow, what a liberating sensation!
And then comes THAT day of the year that all of us look forward to for the rest 364 days. My friends will not take even a minute to guess what I am referring to! The day of our yearly school reunion—we fondly call it GTG, short for Get-together. Years have passed since we started these reunions. I have attended many and missed some, but a year has not gone by, when I didn’t feel depressed when I missed one and elated when I made it. This story is universal to one and all of PTV-75…Ooops, I should have said, PTV-75-OLD SSC!
It’s not as if the life has not been interesting post-school days. It is also not my case that I have not made credible friendships post-1975. But it is certainly my experience that the school friendships, which are the oldest, have remained much fresher than the later ones. In those days, all you needed to have to make a friendship was an honest heart-to-heart connection and everything else was irrelevant! Your friend didn’t have to have similar professional interests, similar economic status, similar lifestyle—the kinds of issues that hold prominence in making relationships work at older ages. You also didn’t have any compulsions of being ‘politically right’ in maintaining and sustaining relationships—you either liked a boy or a girl and proposed friendship and when you didn’t like a particular behavior you fought and confronted rather than trying to ‘maintain’ friendship. That’s why it lasted this long and that too in its freshest form!
Leave aside those teachers you fondly remember even today. They anyway have made a major mark on your personality and have shaped you to become what you are today. But try and even think of the teacher you hated the most. Today even he/she will be remembered with a fair degree of fondness. Some people’s contribution takes a long time before it is appreciated by those who benefited by their ‘not-so-apparently-friendly’ behaviors! Some teachers are from that category.
Reading as a habit was cultivated by me much later in life, at least well after leaving the school. But when I look back, it was during those days of school that I learnt why it was such an important habit. My friends will not only recollect the rich library we had, which many other schools of similar stature in those days could not boast of, but they will equally remember the semi-broken metal bag that used to be circulated from class to class so that we could borrow books from school library and return the next week after reading those. What we read didn’t matter as much as the fact that we started reading during those days. It’s a fact that we also read a lot of trash during those days, but equally we grew-up reading some of the better known books of those times a la Swamy, Yayati, Shriman Yogi et al!
Bunking classes more for watching (again mostly trash) Hindi (and sometimes steamy English) movies was as much part of our lives as watching some spirited ones, majorly at the behest of school, such as Dhanya te Santaji Dhanaji, Pavanakathcha Dhondi etc. The point here is similar—art appreciation of later years had its seeds sown during the schooling years!
What has my alma mater given me? Some ask this question with a degree of rhetoric, as if everything they achieved in life is self-made! I don’t want to even attempt answering their question, for I definitely know what I have got from my alma mater. Love, affection, knowledge, friendships, great memories worth cherishing forever and the list is absolutely unending. The most precious gift I have received though, is a solid identity. That’s why ‘proud to be a PTVian!’ Having worked globally, lived internationally, tested the fruits and heat of diversity, I value ‘identity’ above almost anything else in life!
Poetry can be written when one is emotionally charged, may be sometimes one can even write pieces of a novel—but how about such anthology of thoughts? Thoughts are antithesis of emotions! So, call it anthology of my emotions, if you like! Thoughts of my schooldays won’t permit me rational thinking, and I’m not complaining. Are you?