Twenty-five years! That’s how long it had been, twenty-five years, since we had first set foot upon the campus of Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University. When we went to join the medical school, we were young men and women, little more than kids, fresh out of schools, still wet behind the ears and a little rough around the edges. We would grow up soon…..well, most of us!
The change from the sheltered environment of home/school to the medical college is drastic, sudden, and in most cases, jarring to the senses. The kids of yesterday are men and women suddenly and are expected to behave in a manner commensurate with the profession they have chosen. This behavior is not easy to learn, many are not able to learn this throughout their lives, and comes with time, and some help. The ‘baptism by fire’ given to everyone in their first year of college is helpful to some extent, but not always. This baptism, in local parlance, is called ragging! As if this was not enough, one also has to study.
The academic curriculum and the time schedules imposed upon the unsuspecting youngsters is grueling, and one of the toughest curricula in the whole world. Classes, practical, seminars, tests, exams, viva-voce, clinics, dissections, and dissertations – you name it. And then, of course, one also has to deal with the raging hormones.
Not everyone who joins the med school, has been trained, in their previous avatars in school, in how to deal with the opposite sex without letting your tongue drool. The poor guys and girls are torn between head and heart and socializing and professionalism, and by the time they wrap their heads around the art of dealing with the winged creatures of the opposite sex, it’s time for a professional exam. Of course, some of us were better prepared at this than others, but then that’s another story altogether, for another time.
All said, the professional college is an interesting place – never an idle moment there. And though when one is going through the grind, one is disposed to curse one’s circumstances, people invariably miss their college days once they have graduated and find themselves immersed in their practices or professional careers.
And thus, when our Silver Jubilee Reunion came up last year, we, justifiably, were supremely excited. Elaborate plans were made for the reunion – where to stay, where to dine, which temples to visit, who will sing and who will dance. Malls were raided for appropriate dresses and WhatsApp groups sprouted up to split the batch into teams looking after different aspects of the reunion program. People called up each other – When will you reach man? What song are you singing? What dress should we wear? Hey, our wives have a separate WhatsApp group, did you know that?
Amidst all this excitement and hustle bustle, a small doubt lingered in my mind. I am sure the same thought would have tormented many other people in the dead of the night or in the small hours of the morning. What will happen? How will we react to seeing each other after such a long time? What feelings will the reunion evoke? Would people have changed much? Such thoughts went on and on in my mind.
And then there was another voice, small but persistent, which asked me if I was ready? Ready to face all the memories again – good, bad, happy, sad. There was so much buried in that part of the past which we were going to revisit. What will happen? We, the whole batch, had lived together for eight long years as an extended family. Friendships had sprouted which had withstood the test of time, groups had been formed to be broken and reform again, hearts had united in love only to be split in acrimony again. We had celebrated successes and suffered tragedies, sometimes together and publicly, and sometimes alone, in private, away from the eye of others. Many had their personal ghosts, their private hells to contend with. Some had found their companions in those eight years, others had had their hearts broken, never to be mended again. Some had risen to academic excellence; others had barely survived. Fortunes had smiled on some; others had been struck with tragedy. All this and more lay buried there, in that island of time which was twenty-five years old now. What will we find when we go there? The thought rankled my mind, even as I prepared excitedly for the reunion with my family…………………………………………..
To be continued……………………..
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