Old FriendsWould we ever get bored of that Second Saturday in June every year, ever? I haven’t thought about it nor do I want to, even at this OBA 2011 meetup.With the hubris that seem to pile on with the professional arrogance of passing years, the bonds of childhood as a casualty is almost a given. So much so that one of my batchmates, getting back in touch with the rest of the buddies, was hesitant at first to address each one of his childhood buddies with that ‘common term of endearment’ that we are so often used to, from School (You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?). He had most of the telephone numbers painstakingly lined up in his mobile phone and thought about it. He went ahead with the profanity anyway. Thank God for that.

The Old NCC Store It is almost surreal to still discover a part of the campus that seem to have been blissfully asleep in a time warp. The NCC Store still squats in the same corner, with the same sickly yellow Snowcem coat, and a set of precarious pillars-and-eaves. Do the cadets still get a pair of lefties as standard issue? Or a Size – 7 and Size -8 bundled together in an official knot ? Does anyone remember the puzzling link in the evolution of hydrocarbons that was wrapped in waxpaper and handed to you in the blessed name of Washing Soap? I can bet my bottom dollar that it could even generate electricity on a rainy day. Standing in the semblance of that clearing, if you listened real intently, you can still catch the faint echoes of Sub Major Bhika Chasker’s bellowing “Keep Shilenssh!”

Back in Class AgainGone are the cast-iron single tables with their equally clumsy and heavy single chairs that once populated the cadets’ classrooms. The cold cement floor has gladly given way to its ubercool cousins, the walls are cheery and adorned with students’ creativity. We had complex patterns from pigeon excreta to power our drowsy Zoology afternoons. But I still do hope and believe that some where deep down,even with the current generation, the fundamental bonds still remain strong as steel. Just as we were fortunate enough to even have our younger ones heap you with genuine affection and caring that was nourished even without our knowledge. Without which, it would have been really difficult to step back into your class room after two decades and sit there , convulsing with laughter, ribbing each other and themselves, amazed at the way those doorways which actually turned out to be gateways to something that was definitely worthy.

The TextBook StoreA steaming steel tumbler of tea sits with chosen disinterest in a corner of the big table. Across which leans Mrs. Mary Thomas, at the Stationery Store, patiently handing over new notebooks against old ones with the respective subject head’s bonafide on the last page. The smell of freshly pressed note books, accentuated by that unique odor of the cheap glue that was used, the steaming tea and the hurry to get back in class without losing a minute in the queue – that non-decrepit door was  another hurdle that had to be strategically addressed in the daily week-day business. She always caught you when you forged signatures, ever noticed that ?

An Old Boy comes Calling

For this Naval Officer, this had to be a special homecoming. Being unceremoniously asked to leave the school at a point in Cadet Life when you have just paid the dues to the Growing years and looking forward to the last two years of unmitigated fun and academia, the event becomes more earth-shattering and benumbing than disturbing. It unsettles you. For whatever reasons that culminated in the final act, life seems to have sailed past the bitterness and left it at an unnamed distant harbor. There are a handful of my buddies who found themselves in this curious position of what emotion to associate with their School years. This seems to be warm sunshine, after all.

The Flight of the Kazhakian

I am always curious as to why we never gave the old NA Harvard a fond term of reference in all our school years. It was always this benevolent, deeply tolerant, yet silent grandparent who always sat there and watched the children grow, play on its shoulders, listen into their grandiose dreams as they played Biggles in the cockpit seat, and with a weariness see them fly away to new horizons. Though it has changed places, to me, is the most profound symbol of patience, resilience and hope – the very same qualities that the Alma Mater seem to instill in you by the time you graduate through those massive gates.

And it waits, to see you return. Again. And again.

Would we ever be bored?

14 Responses

  1. thanks biju as usual for the writeup. i missed the day. i had instead organised a gettogether at vizag…24 odd kazhaks met up here …a few days back..

    great to see lijo there!


    1. Dear MH,

      Great to have you here 🙂 The pleasure is mine. And yes, it was a special homecoming for the Naval Officer.

  2. Amazing Biju. Though we had experienced all you have written, but now its a new feeling. Thanks Biju

    1. Da,
      In the end it all boils down to what you said, an experience. And aren’t we all lucky to have been a part of it..

    1. Dear Pradeep,
      The beautiful aspect of being a part of SSKZM is that you never have to try to belong.You already are. And thats how we will stay..Regards.

  3. Dear Soni,
    Thank you, for giving my Wednesday a gentle heave up from its mid-week crisis 🙂
    ..Warm regards.

  4. Your writing is like a ballad, one which requires a few re-reads to get the complete impact in. Lovely….especially stuff like ” – It is almost surreal to still discover a part of the campus that seem to have been blissfully asleep in a time warp”

    1. Dear Meena,
      You are so very kind with your words. I guess, when it comes to an alumni from Sainik School, Kazhakootam ( for that matter any Sainik School), the campus and the buildings evokes emotions that at times make you tremble inside. It has that effect on you being your nest for a good part of your growing years. Thanks again..

  5. After reading this I have an Idea if anybody could make a fantastic cartoon movie on our yester years in the Alma Mater which could be as emotional as “The Lion King”, “CARS” etc where this Old NA Harvard also plays a good role. Any takers!

    1. PSu,
      The difficult part would be conveying those emotions to someone who doesn’t have an inkling of what the whole set of images and reference points mean to a school-struck alumni..I guess as much as they are special, they are unique and a bit hard to be conveyed across mediums..

  6. This writing succeeds in that lump in the throat, as line after line, you so exquisitely bring out things stored away in the attic of time. In the warm sunshine, which you mention, they all take on a golden hue, the glee in the heart translating into a widening smile as you recognise things from long ago. This morning is a tad, if not more, better for we have read this wonderful essay. Thx, Biju.

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