Today i sneaked into Loyola...some of my classmates are in town besides the guys who work and live in tvm...thought of inviting them along for a sec...felt guilty but i wanted some solitude...it has been three long years, it maybe years before i come here again...saturday, onam vacation...not a soul in sight...it was just me and my alma mater. Deserted look, is the word i am tempted to use, but a thousand memories, hundreds of shiny young faces, a dozen inspirational teachers, all seem so alive and buzzing about, around me. I remembered how troubled, insignificant and mediocre i felt when i walked out of school in 1998...even then i knew i made a wrong choice with engineering, but I didnt know much about life, the world outside tvm, big words like fate and destiny, i was a simple kid without any pretentions, ambitions or big dreams. Today I am back here, again feeling troubled, insignificant and mediocre...under the gulmohar's shade, a soothing gentle breeze, i relaxed, i started dreaming, of good days, of hardships that i would tide with a smile, of all the places on earth i would let loose my carefree spirit.
A Week Back...
The three strapping youngsters with a smile on their faces asked me,
"Chetan Loyolayil padichathalle...njangale ormayondo".
I really felt happy...I knew I should blog on my school soon.
Only a few minutes back, the school-bus had passed me, and as always I turned towards it part in reverence, part in the hope of some junior, teacher or the conductor recognizing me...no luck, i was way too history...i thought.
"Ningal ethe batchileya".(I faintly remembered one of the boys...he was one of the little boys who would hold seats for us in the school bus)
"ISC2006. We just got into engineering this year".
"ISC98. I cant believe you guys remember me. When I came out y'all were just in the forth"!
We talked for a few minutes. They were eager to know about how life treats them after school...I couldnt give them the hard part...told them to enjoy the next few years to the fullest.
As they walked away I smiled...they were yet to realize the magic 12 years of studying in Loyola would produce...how people would admire them, how they would begin to believe anything was possible under the sun, how the boys they studied with in school with would continue to be their best friends and would all grow into fine young men. This post is just a celebration...its my way of thanksgiving...to the school, to the teachers and most importantly to my classmates...in a space of a fortnight two of the boys are getting married, a third engaged and a forth broke the big news of him about to become a dad. This is a disjointed post...just some old memories, some hilarious incidents and a few personal recollections all thrown in.
This one evening, i overheard Pops telling this cool priest who teaches at the Loyola College, how studying in Loyola made a big difference in my life. Then i heard this wonderful story the achan, who i hope becomes the principal of the school some day, had to tell.
Night Time. Heavy Rain. Frantic knocking at the jesuit residence. An achan goes out to see who it is. A young couple totally drenched.
The guy desperately, "Acho, am an ex-loyolite. Am goin abroad tomorrow. Just wanted to show my wife, my school. Would you have an umbrella?".
The priest stands in disbelief for a second. But the next request floors him...
"Acho, I need a torch too..."
The poor dude was sticking to a long-standing tradition of showing wives the school...this was the place that made us men, endowed us with ethics and liberal attitudes, this was where we learnt to play hard yet fair, work hard yet be carefree, this was where we became rogues, yet imbibed lessons in chivalry and humanity. I can see Shenoi, captain of the basketball team, star-singer, center-forward of the football team, heartthrob to many a tvm gal, hero to many a loyola junior and Sajeev, top-ranker of the class, captain of the school cricket team, unfailing goalkeeper of the football team and Annan to all of us, who are marrying in this Onam season bringing their women here, recounting to them unbelievable exploits, sharing a part of the history that made them the men who appealed to the gals in the first place.
I remember this one evening at Humayun's Tomb in Delhi. My pal tells me, "Dey, lets look at it the way Pulickal would have done, in history class"
"Do you see the perfect symmetry in not just the monument but the surrounding lawns, walls and outlying buildings on either side."
"Do you see the some of the marble tiles are patchworks, done at a later time".
"Did you know, Dara Shikoh, heir to Shah Jahan, was beheaded here by Aurangzeb and this was Bahadur Shah Zafar's last stand during the 1857 revolt".
"Do you notice the steps up to the monument cant be seen from anywhere...on the raised platform...the builders must have thought it hindered the beauty".
"You know what...for this kind of crappy analysis Puli wud have given us a zero"!
We laughed heartily...remembered the old man, and what he meant to us, how he could brutally make fun of us and yet we never felt any ill-will, how he would set the most difficult question paper, how he would be so stingy in giving us marks and fail most of the class, and as if to rub salt on our wounds, would publish our blunders in the school notice board for seniors and juniors alike to mock us...we still loved him, he was our hero, still is and forever will be. We remembered how Paili wrote in Pulickals history paper, "Rani Laxmibai had no natural hair"...instead of "male natural heir" and how the whole class, and from the notice board, the whole school had a nice jolly laugh about it!
A few summers back we decided to have a reunion at school. Two of us trooped into our vice-principal's office. The surprised man was counting a huge wad of currency and my pal snatched it from him and said,
"Achanmaarke enthina kaashe...fees sherikkum kootiyalle".
I was smiling at all this when the poor priest turned to me and pleaded,
"Eda Kattakayam, avanodathinge tharaan para".
I turned to my bud and joked, "Aliya, u shud demand a Refund. Eitherways, u have turned out rotten after 13 years here and still cant speak proper English." (The Refund, a play abt a rogue who goes back to his school and asks for all the money he paid as fees back).
We three broke out into laughter. We had never heard of a Loyolite who got messed up...
Maybe I should take heart from the above...
A friend once asked me,
"Amongst all of us here, why is it that Pappanabhan and you are going back to India?"
I shot back, "Ask your parents why they didnt send you to Loyola".
"They tried, but..."
"Tough Luck, man". While saying that, I couldnt suppress a condescending smile then.
"You snotty bastard. There's one thing you didnt learn there...how to talk your way into a gals heart".
"Thats okay. There's always arranged marriage for losers like me!".
We both laughed...
I arose from the reverie i had slipped into, and headed for my car. A school is all about high spirits, the longing to grow up and become an adult, and "giving your best till the day is done"...i had soaked for a couple of hours in all what my alma mater gifted me...in a few weeks i will become a bird, i will soar, all i need is courage and perseverance, to go the distance, its a promise to be kept. The school will be watching, waiting for me...