I walked down the steps of the LT, with the children tagging along, into the well and then up to the lectern. Vaishali moved aside to let me take the ‘stage’, eyeing me mischievously, and smiling knowingly. The alumni were quiet, listening intently, smiling, some of them pointing at me, some nudging each other. The former faculty were amused too, looking on with curiosity, wondering what I will say.
‘Namasakar, respected teachers’, I addressed the faculty using the traditional Indian greeting.
‘They are my juniors,’ I continued, pointing towards the benches occupied by giggling men and women, ‘and thus they have right to pull my leg. I am also the daamaad, the son-in-law, of the batch since I have married a girl from their batch and hence they have a right over me.’
A smattering of laughter from the faculty filled the room, while I paused to look around at the audience, and the teachers sitting to my left. Some of the teachers were nodding their heads, having understood what I was saying. Courting and marrying a girl from another batch was an ‘issue’ back then, since it was looked down upon as going beyond the area of one’s jurisdiction. But since so many of the alumni were my juniors from surgery, and others were also my good friends, hence it wasn’t such an issue, and the matter was raised only to have some fun at our expense.
‘I am from their senior batch, Sirs,’ I continued. ‘I passed out my MS from General surgery from this institution, and then went on to do my MCh in Plastic Surgery from KGMU.’
A murmur of approval as I resumed after a short pause.
‘Later I pursued several fellowships in my chosen specialty – Cleft and Craniofacial surgery – from several prominent institutions across the world Harvard, NYU, Miami, Dallas, LA, Detroit, Cleveland, and also Basel University in Switzerland.’
More nodding of the heads.
‘Currently, I am employed, as an Additional Professor of Plastic Surgery at KGMU……Sir!’
I paused, as if to finish, when Amit Agarwal again interceded.
‘And he is a bestselling author,’ he shouted loudly, jumping from his seat, and smiling from ear to ear.
The heads turned again to my side as I blushed, and confessed.
‘Well Sir, yes, I wrote a book on stories from Indian mythology couple of years ago and, with your blessings, it did well.’
‘What is its name?’ This was Dr Madhukar Rai.
‘Its called The Battle of Panchavati, Sir,’ I replied. ‘These are all the traditional stories that you and I have grown up with. I have just used contemporary language to add colour to it.’
‘You see,’ I continued, ‘I realised that many people of my generation, and more so the next generation, don’t know anything about our legends, or myths if you can call them that. And this is a sad state of affair. But we have to shoulder some blame for that. The way these stories have been written, in the traditional texts, is very difficult to read. If you and I,’ and I pointed at them while saying this,’ also try to pick up these texts, we will not be able to ready them.’
I could see them nodding their heads again.
‘So I decided to make the task easy for those who want to read our stories, easy and interesting, so that everyone can enjoy a classic, relish a legend, and tell it to their children. And thus the book. It was a labour of love, and I hope, if you get to read it some day, that you will enjoy it too.’
A brief applause, and then I quickly excused myself from the podium, and strode back to our seat again, along with the girls.
To be continued………
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