Vaishali started by welcoming all the former teachers one by one. The teachers were presented bouquets by the organisers, and the alumni, and then she invited the alumni to the podium one by one, by their roll numbers – their undergraduate roll numbers!!
It was fun! The alumni walked down to the well of the LT, then up to the lectern, and, sort of, reintroduced themselves to their former teachers and their batchmates. They introduced their families and talked about what they did after they passed out from the college; their further education, their fellowships, their jobs, their academic achievements, practice attachments. It was interesting listening to them, especially since I knew many of them from my own college days.
Everyone’s lives had taken different routes, some predictable, some not so predictable. Some had done well, some extremely well, and some, well, not so well. In expanding on their lives, and their achievements, they also offered me a snapshot into their psyches. I was listening intently, understanding more than they cared to explain, when they elaborated what they assumed to be their achievements; what did they classify as ‘achievement’? High paying jobs? Academic assignments? Peer recognition? Beautiful spouse? Intelligent children? What WAS achievement?
Some were shy, some verbose, some arrogant, some diffident, some bitter, some sarcastic; a kaleidoscope of emotions, and personality traits were on display, for those who cared to see, to appreciate, to discern. Some dropped hints for their own former teachers, telling them obliquely that they had done well despite being poor students at college, and thus there was something wrong with the ‘system’. Some were grateful that the teachers had taught, supported and encouraged them, and still showed them the way. Some were indifferent of the roles that their former teachers had played in their lives, and were just full of themselves. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a former faculty sitting here in this room, listening to erstwhile students, listening to their thankfulness, their gratitude, their double entendres, their thinly veiled sarcasms, their overarching flattery………
Some impressed me with their humility, their honesty, their brutal candour. Sai Kiran was shy as usual, ‘Hyper’ was hyper, Raju was shy and cheerful, KG was practical, and Jyoti…..well, Jyoti was brutal with her assessment of herself, and broke down in the end.
And then, before I knew it, it was Vaishali’s turn. Smiling consciously, blushing almost, she gave a short introduction of herself and was ready to leave the podium when suddenly Amit shouted…..’Boss ko bulao, boss ko bulao, boss ke bina nahi hoga. He is a celebrated author….’, and he pointed towards me. Seniors, in our time, we respectfully addressed as ‘boss’. Boss ko bulao meant ‘invite boss’, which meant me. He was asking the hosts to invite me to the podium for the introduction too. Of course!! Vaishali’s introduction would not be complete without me standing by her side, and giving my intro too! The teachers looked up at me, startled…not knowing what the matter was. Suddenly, with the attention of everyone in the LT focussed on me, I became self conscious, and almost blushed.
‘Come, come,’ one of the professors encouraged, smiling, realising that it was some old college time prank between me and this batch. I got up from my seat, reluctant to give up my hiding place, and then, tugging the girls along, sauntered down to the well of the LT, smiling.
To be continued…………..
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