Acha’s retiring this month-end. As of now, he’s travelling through Kerala, attending farewell functions being held for him.
So this afternoon, he called me up and asked me write a few lines for him that he can speak at tomorrow’s function. I readily agreed and started writing, and before I knew, ‘a few lines’ had become three pages. For someone who hadn’t worked even a single day in BSNL, that was an awful lot to say.
That’s when it hit me- I’ve never given a farewell speech. Ever. Not in school, not in college and not in the university. By the time I reached 12th std, the school didn’t allow farewell parties anymore, during my college farewell, I think they selected a representative to talk, and during our university farewell, we were too busy dancing the night away to glory to bother about speeches. And most importantly, nobody invited me to give a speech. Sigh...
So here are my farewell notes, to the places that have played a significant role in my life. I don’t know whether it matters now, after so many years, but I want to tell it.
And besides, I don’t think I’ll ever work in any place for more than two years for them to throw a party for me. Yup, a truth that I have come to terms with. So here goes.
So long, farewell, K.V. Pangode. You showed me the beginning of the road.
What do I say to the institution that I’ve spent eleven years in? A mere thank you won’t suffice for sure. It has, after all, made me the person I am today. My school.
This school has seen me as a naive child who forgot her father’s name at the interview and who used to cry every single day for the first few days soon as she joined, so much that my teachers had to call my father to come pick me up; it has seen me as a curious adolescent, who is just starting to discover the difference between a boy and a girl, and who cried at her desk when she was told by someone in her class that one of the boys has ‘line’ on her; it has seen me as a gawky, confused teenager, who was acutely conscious of the fact that she was quite dark and that her breasts just didn’t seem to develop fast. It has seen me as the first-prize winner in C.C.A competitions, and also seen me shirking away during Mass P.T. Saturdays. It has smiled and shook it’s head at the bunch of girls who just needed any excuse to bunk class and go for ‘dance practise’. It has smiled proudly at the all-rounder who was never a topper, but managed to be consistent with her marks (Till the 9th standard. Consistency went for a walk then).
If you ask me what are my fondest memories here, I will either be speechless, or I will be rambling for hours. But yes, I do remember when Manjula Ma’m walked in while a third standard Hindi class was in progress and asked me whether I was part of any programme on Annual Day. When I nodded a no, she took me right away and just like that, I was the white-frock-wearing letter A in the Alphabet Dance. I remember being the adolescent Indira Gandhi in the tableau, and trying hard not to smile or move for fifteen full minutes (god knows how difficult it was for me). I remember being made the Deputy School Pupils Leader in 5th standard, and the brown badge that I used to proudly wear. I remembered being pushed into the water tank in 4th standard during lunch break along with a friend and how petrified I was (Till date, I don’t know who it is that pushed me in. I guess it’ll remain one of those greatest mysteries of the world. Or of my life. Whatever). I remember the Onam day celebrations, the programmes I used to compere for, the classrooms, the steps we used to have lunch on, the library, the playground...
Every single day spent here has been a lesson, be it the good days, or the horrible days. And I’ve seen plenty of both. I have been a good student, I have been a failure.
I have had some truly amazing teachers, teachers who taught me more than just lessons. Sarat Sir, to whom I owe my love for the English language. If not for his classes, English would’ve been just another subject that I had to pass in. I hope I have not failed him in any way. Well, except for my hand-writing. That still remains inexplicably horrible, sir. Sorry. :) ( Tired of writing ‘Improve your handwriting’ on almost every page in my notebook, finally one day he wrote ‘Beautiful handwriting’, hoping that I’ll improve at least then. Sir, the only thing that has improved after that is my sarcasm).
All my teachers in the primary section- their job is the toughest, you know. There’s a proverb that goes “A child’s mind is like wet cement. Whatever falls on it makes an impression.” It’s a huge responsibility on their shoulder, to mould the minds of 5-6 year olds’, with undying dedication and patience, because one wrong move can scar the child for life. One of the main reasons why I never took up teaching is this- I knew I would never have such kind of patience.
Becket Sir, for having faith in me even when I used to fail in every single Physics and Chemistry exam in 11th and 12th. He always saw beyond my marks. He would look at my report cards, shake his head sadly, and say “You are such an intelligent girl. Why are your marks like this...?” His grief that I was getting bad marks was very genuine, and I could never fathom why. Later on I learnt from somebody that he had a son with special needs, and then I could understand why he felt so sad at my performance- here is a girl who doesn’t use her brains even when god had given her some. When I went to school to collect my report card after the board results came out, he told my mom that I should apply for Civil Services- he was telling the mother of a girl who had just got compartment in her 12th standard Physics board exam, that her daughter should apply for Civil Services. No, it wasn’t pep talk. It was just good old confidence. He was one of the first people to suggest to my parents that they should let me study literature. Thank you sir, for having the faith in me that I myself had started to lose.
A heartfelt thank you to all the teachers who have been great role models over the years, and who have been patient enough with nutcases like me. You’ve, for sure, reserved a place for yourself in heaven. :)
I may have left school seven years ago, but I still have something very precious that I managed to take away from there- a truly wonderful bunch of friends. Each time I see them, I’m reminded of the days that I’ve spent in those vast grounds, those noisy corridors, the pristine classrooms, the huge playground, the cacophonous school bus... these guys are my prizes, my marks, my certificates, my everything... Thank you, you lovable brats.
Thank you, K.V. Pangode, for having taken care of me for those wonderful eleven years... in case I haven’t said it enough, I love you and will continue to do so till the time my memory takes leave of me.
Note:- I realised if I give all my farewell notes in one post, all of you will doze off middway. So the next valediction in the next post.