Diaries Magazine

School Reunion

Posted on the 24 December 2012 by C. Suresh
(Had to make an effort this time to access the Net. A School reunion after 33 years just had to be written while the memories are still fresh. Still left-handed and still in Chennai)
School Reunion
When Gautam Banerjee (do not be mislead - the school was in Neyveli not Calcutta) called me up for a reunion of my batch at Jawahar Higher Secondary School Neyveli, I jumped at the chance. Not only because I'd get to meet quite a few of my batch-mates after a third of a century but also to reassure myself that it was not I alone who had changed for the worse. True I had shot up six inches in height since school but I had put on about the same around the waist and losing some weight on top of the head - leaving the head as shiny as a reflector - could by no means be considered a compensation. In this expectation I was sorely disappointed. Gautam, as befitted the chief organizer, satisfied me most thoroughly. Sivakumar, a co-organizer, did his best too and the other organizer Babu tried his best but could only manage to look less of a skeleton than he did at school.
The other lot of guys were really horrid. None of them - bar Venkatesh - seemed to have acquired a dignified paunch. The girls too showed no compassion - most looked positively glamorous. I must single out my ire for P.Suresh, T.C.Ravi, B.S.Murali and M.S.Lakshmi - all of whom looked as though all that they needed to get back to studying class X was the school uniform. I had to console myself with the thought that they could not get in to see an "A" movie without showing age-proof and try to hide my waistline behind my plaster-cast inadequately.
That, however, was the only disappointment. The ride to Neyveli with Venkatesh and T.C. Ravi was fun. P.Suresh, who was with us initially along with his son, was rattled by too many skeletons tumbling out of his school closet with his son listening in eagerly and chose to run to safer havens. We arrived in great spirits at Neyveli to a warm welcome by Gautam, Siva and Babu. None of our teachers could make it but S.Nalini - who looked as hefty as at school only more so - made up for it by bossing us around. Luckily for us she did not try to make us kneel down or stand on the bench - creaky knees do not permit such exercises.
Thirty-three years of living cannot readily be compressed into ninety seconds of narration but managed it. From the chap who somehow became a Canadian dentist to the chap who became a planned redundancy (yours truly) we had them all in the 40-50 batch-mates present there - doctors, engineers, realtors, entrepreneurs, executives and home-makers. Having been a quiet, mousy chap with my nose perpetually buried in a book while at school, I was amazed that quite a few of them knew me though a lot of them probably thought I had gate-crashed the party and merely remained quiet because they were feeling too good to cause a ruckus. (NO! It was not my sneaky way of having my current pic on my FB profile that allowed some to pretend to remember me. Just because most of those who did not know me were non-FB users you cannot cast such wild allegations!)
Tea-time was when we started the serious business of catching up. Within no time we were flinging insults at each other like in school - insults that would have got us bashed up, in court for slander or in jail for leaking official secrets depending on the insulted person's nature and status. Here they only evoked belly laughs and the laughing was almost continuous till we had to part. As Suchitra - the Narain version - put it, adult life meant that we only infrequently opened our mouths wide - for the doctor to peer at our tonsils - so this much  full-throated laughter was actually causing the jaws to ache.
Around seven we left to park ourselves at the various rooms arranged by the organizers and reassembled at eight for dinner. Venkatesh, TC Ravi, Anand and I had a sneak preview of the school on the way and had a small chat with the current principal who first tried to shoo us off as intruders but stayed to chat and even permitted us to look around. The school is now bifurcated in two - with one half catering to the state board students and the other to CBSE students. The CBSE school that we studied in is now thw state board school.
At dinner, food seemed to be the last thing on people's minds while everyone was chatting and laughing - and photographing, of course. There were a few changes in conversational styles, however. At school it had almost all been Tamil for informal conversation - now one could hear Telugu, Kannada and Hindi as well. I did not quite catch Debasis and Gautam chat in Bengali but that, too, may have happened.
The party at Gautam's house was after dinner. The conversation was in full flow as ever helped on liberally by the lubrication copiously provided by Gautam and company duly augmented by Sundar. The girls left an hour or so earlier (School reunion! Can't be calling them ladies!). We hit our room by about 2 AM but our conversation was on till 4 AM.
Next day began and 7.30 AM and we hit the meeting hall by about 9 AM. Back to fun and games with B.S.Murali crafting a game that set us reminiscing crazy escapades from our school days (Murali! I am still wondering what to do with 8 match-sticks and no match-box). We, then, went for the official view of the school, photography and running around peeking at all the classrooms and labs bemoaning the changes and excited about what had stayed the same. Kumaraguru even found some corrected test-papers and S.K.Radha proved that she still had an eye for marks!
Back for lunch and the bitter-sweet moments of parting. One needs to compliment those spouses and children who came for the meet. The children, of course, must have come to gather some concrete evidence to prove that their parent was ever a student and did not spring full-blown from the ground. They must have also had much fun seeing this bunch of fifty-year olds acting like juveniles. The spouses are probably more to be lauded for their patience.
A last hurrah was celebrated at Suchitra Naidu's behest at Cuddalore and Venkatesh, Ravi and I wended our way back to Chennai with loads of memories. For all those batch-mates who did not come - you do not know what you missed and photographs are no substitute.
Disclaimer: Photo copied from Sundar's FB post

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