The main alumni function was to be held in the auditorium of the newly built Trauma Centre, adjacent to the main campus of BHU, over a land which had lain fallow for several decades till recently. The new campus, which housed the Trauma Centre, part of the Institute of Medical Sciences – our Alma Mater, was spacious and swanky, with large open spaces. This was a part of the college we had not seen before, since it had been commissioned and built long after all of us had passed out from there. After some inevitable initial confusion, all of us finally found our way into the auditorium. The hall must have been built to seat at least three hundred people since all of us fit very nicely into it, along with our families, and with some space to spare. Everyone sat around chattering like children, clicking pictures and talking of old times.
Avinash, Tej Singh, Amita and Sridhar were, however, busy with some preparations. A plan on how to proceed was being drawn up. Sridhar agreed to be the master of ceremony and lead the proceedings. He tried to pull me into the management of the function at hand too, but I declined gently.
Even though this was the main function of our alumni meet, I really wanted to get this over with quickly. I wanted to go and have a look around the campus with my family and look at the college building and the hostels; this was what I had come for, or was it? No, there was something else too. I wanted to visit the small Hanuman temple adjacent to the hospital building that we had frequented during our college days at BHU. There were so many memories there – good, bad, sad, traumatic, triumphant……..I wanted to touch that ground again. Ever since I had left BHU, a mere mention of the name of my Alma Mater brought forth the image of this temple in my mind. And thus, this one had to be visited.
I was uncomfortable; though I joked and chatted like everyone else did. I really did not look forward to meeting many of our old teachers – to be very frank. There were very few people, teachers, whom I would have loved to meet and talk to. But I wasn’t sure they were coming.
And thus, I sat on the benches along with others and waited for the ceremony to begin.
Slowly the train of teachers started to trickle in.
Prof L K Pandey came with his wife, both of them professors in the gynecology department. Prof Matah followed shortly, also from gynecology department. Teachers from medicine were there, and Orthopedics and Microbiology, and Physiology. Gynecology graduates posed with their professors; orthopedics graduates posed with theirs.
Prof S C Goel was there, as was ‘Bond’ or Prof Rastogi, and Dr Khare, from the orthopedic faculty. Prof Saraf also came. The orthopedic guys were ecstatic and jumped around posing with their former teachers.
Professors from medicine trickled in. Prof V P Singh walked in wearing his characteristic affable smile, followed by Prof Agarwal. Prof Madhukar Rai came; the medicine graduates hounded him for a picture. Surgery was the most underrepresented of all specialties; if it were not for Prof A K Khanna, we would have drawn a blank. His former resident students, including myself, posed with him for pictures. He had always been soft spoken and a gentle person. He was a meticulous surgeon too; we owed a lot to him.
As the teachers kept coming in and taking their places, Sridhar started the proceeding by welcoming all the teachers present and inviting them to occupy their places on the dais. They were welcomed with bouquets and presents and asked to speak a few words. Slowly, painfully, the program lumbered on. The graduates were all called to the well of the auditorium to be felicitated by their former faculty and to speak a few words about themselves. Sridhar stood on the dais and read out the roll call. Abhinav went first, then Abhishek, Alka followed then others one by one.
Some were shy, some hesitant, some confident, some looked happy, others looked overcome with emotions.
Presently I went down with Vaishali and the girls and spoke a few words about my journey so far; what I had done, where I had been and what I had achieved – which was not much! Sridhar remarked how I had forayed into literature and had authored a book; I could see Dr Matah nodding while others looked on uninterestedly.
Others came after me, according to their roll numbers. Monica got emotional, Rajul wept openly, Payal was close to tears too. Puru came, along with his family, from Bhutan, dressed in traditional dresses. He talked less, just like during MBBS days, but talked substance. I liked his speech; it was grounded and no-nonsense. Srabani came too, with her family, from Malda. She had been our International student from Bangladesh but had later settled down in Malda. Prithvi, Vibhuti, DK, Shyam everyone came one after the other.
After what seemed like an eternity, the function came to an end and we exited the hall to proceed for lunch, which was served outside in a tent. Everyone crowded the enclosure, milling around, talking, smiling, eating. I bumped into Neeti, we chatted like long lost friends picking up a conversation where they had left it. We talked about writing blogging dentistry and stuff. Then I joined the boy’s group with Appu, Abhinav, Somu and others. The lunch was delicious.
To be continued………………………………….
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