KG’s wife was helping organise stuff down below in the well. The flowers, the bouquets to greet the teachers who would come, the stoles which all the alumni had to wear and, pagris. Yes! A man carrying several bag-loads full of the typical Indian headgear known as pagri walked in and, with the help of KG’s wife started to distribute it to a few people sitting in the forward benches. Funny, how the forward benchers got everything, no?
Some other volunteers joined in and soon everyone was handing out pagris. Vaishali brought a couple for us, and we clicked pictures wearing them before Vaishali returned to her station at the podium, poring over the sequence of events, and the guest list.
Soon, the teachers started to trickle in. Predictably, Prof Singh walked in first. He was a professor of medicine in our time, then the Dean of students, and, later, the Director of our institute. A very affable, friendly, and approachable teacher, an astute clinician, and a patient listener. Once when I was down with typhoid during my medical school under graduation days, and was too ill to even go to the hospital OPD, and show myself to any physician, Prof Singh had visited our hostel on the request of some of my friends and seniors. He was the Dean of students then, and being a general physician, had also administered to me. His son, Manish, was several years our senior, and also pursuing medicine. He would later go on to become a neurophysician, doing his DM Neurology (his Neurology training program) from another institute, and would later settle down in Lucknow, the capital of the state, and a city around three hundred kilometres from Varanasi. Why would he choose Lucknow over Varanasi, where, obviously, he would have had a better practice due to the influence of his father, beats me to this day. Maybe it was to escape the influence of his father, one never knows……
After Prof Singh, walked in a number of other faculty members, some retired, some still serving. I struggled to remember their names, without much success. I recognised Dr Madhukar Rai, the medicine professor, but other names just refused to come to me. There was this professor who was a hemato-oncologist, I think one faculty from Microbiology was there (G Nath, was he?), and one from physiology (was it Dr Dey?). They all strolled in one by one, our former teachers, the ones who had helped us build our careers, our futures, helped teach us what we knew, imparted the precious knowledge that we had gained here in this institution. They had given without restrain, without holding back, without prejudice. Who gained what, retained what, and used it which way, was another matter altogether.
The assembly was called to attention; I heard Vaishali’s voice ring out in the ILT. It sounded strange, listening to her voice again, in the LT after so many years. I looked at her, she was smiling and conducting the proceedings. She looked beautiful, beautiful enough to make my pulse race, and was obviously enjoying being part of her alumni function.
To be continued…….
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