Feb 08 2013 will be one of the unforgettable days of my life. I got to revisit my childhood; and later in the evening, had a wonderful brother sister time. In just the span of 24 hours, I revisited the year 2001 and was back to 2013 again.
I’d always thought about visiting school. This idea had triggered long time ago; but my present day schedule was holding me back. We human by nature are either complaining at present or regretting our past; and no matter how ready, we’re always unprepared for future. Though all may not agree, but I think, living doesn’t always mean winning. Sometimes you can surrender and still accomplish. Sometimes some battles are worth ‘not fighting’. At least for once, pause the present, forget the future and rewind. For once stand still, forget the distance yet to travel rather see how far you’ve made it. Revisit what you had left and let yourself connect to “then you and new you”. And that’s what exactly I did on 8th Feb 2013 and that’s why I am all smiles now, as I am writing this blog. Finally I visited school! No big deal but in its own little way, it’s a bliss that has filled my heart with gratitude.
I along with my little brother took a ride to my old school. I could hear the school buzz, could feel the same breeze and smell the same scent. Could see students, some dressed proper, some untidy. Some had that stain in their uniform; probably from the lunch box, while few others had dirt in their pants from the football ground or fight (maybe). I took my camera out to capture few moments, and there few students were posing right in front of the camera. No camera-shy generation eh!
I turned around and there, I saw Gurung Sir standing amidst a group of teachers (they were new faces). I looked at him from the distance, and was saying to myself “Wow! He hasn’t changed a bit.” He was there standing in his guise as anyone who’s known him would picture him in. Those gray hair, his demeanor, nothing suggested a need for a change. Instead he was as old as he was back then just not older or should I say, as young as always
I was seeing him after a long time and I got the same feeling when I had seen him for the first time. Back when I was 5/6 years old, back when my parents submitted their two young children’s future in this very man’s wise hand. My elder sister and I, our upbringing was trusted in his noble deeds and Gurung Sir indeed mastered his role as a guardian not for one but for many.
I had this mixed feeling when I saw him. I was excited and nervous at the same time; nervous because I was doubtful if he would remember me. However, I approached him, greeted him and introduced myself like a stranger would introduce oneself to another stranger. I had my fingers crossed, hoping he would recall and save me further embarrassment, as I was already underestimating myself. I was using my elder sister’s name, family name, cousins’ name and anyone else’s name from by batch but my own.
I hadn’t mentioned my name and he goes like “Ah ok so where is Sushma?” I told him, “She’s abroad”. He nodded and asked me again, “hmm and Shristi?” I smiled and told him, “Sir I am Shristi.” We both laughed. But what a relief! I was doubtful he wouldn’t recognize me but there he remembered my name. After that he looked at me for a while and gave that friendly pat on the shoulder and continued smiling.
Then the conversation began and led to one after other with never ending stories and past memories. I had no clue I could talk to him for that long and still be unfinished. In our conversation it was clear that he remembered me, my sister, my family and cousins as we all were in the same school. He even remembered I had a little brother, though he wasn’t admitted with us. Thank god I had brought my baby brother along who wasn’t baby anymore. He even told me how his every visit to Manakamana Temple was facilitated because of us, as one of our family priest used to serve there and that helped build the bond.
I could name anyone and he would not only remember them each, but would tell stories of them that I myself had no knowledge about. I was astounded by his memory power. He escorted me around school. Just when I had walked in, he was about to leave to attend a wedding reception but he said, “That can wait” and we spent hours talking. I bet we hardly missed anyone from my and my sister’s batch-sorry for the hiccups guys (if you got one).I doubt if I could remember that many names. Gurung Sir owned this school since forever; and god knows how many students he’d come across in his entire life.
I told Gurung sir that I was not expecting him to see the way he was. Not that I had expected any bad but just not this good. After hearing me-out he made a quick witty remark. He said, “What were you expecting, an old man with a support cane in his hand? That’s not going to happen any time soon.” We both laughed! I was really amused and felt honored to be having this conversation with him. I had my doubts if I could even speak to him for 5 minutes but here we had spend almost an hour or two and still weren’t running out of topic. This was my first time I’d opened up and spoken to him with such confident.
I entered my old classroom, touched that wooden chair, the notice board, the table, double-decked steel desk. One round around the school compound wasn’t enough so I went for a second and third round, for which my brother was complaining Saw those corridors, where I was once punished, that stage where I once performed, those playgrounds where I once played football and basketball. Before and after school assemblies and PT classes I hated back then but now, I couldn’t love anything more. That canteen we always complained not because it served no good but for not having any food left- It was just that good. I must admit, RIBS school’s canteen served one of the best momos and samosas I’ve ever had till date.
I was observing and enjoying those sound and smell of that school environment and was thinking to myself, how I would give up anything to relive that phase of life again. But there I was standing, starring, contemplating and admiring all these young kids, in their tiny uniform that once upon a time, used to be my uniform. The sound of that school bell ( especially after the last class), that created a relief; with an idea of finally getting to go home.
I watched these new kids walking the line and, following their teacher like ants follow sugar trail. Guard whistling and calling out the bus number… Ah! Things hadn’t changed much but again nothing was the same. I touched that cold black board, the dust and the smell of the white chalk. Suddenly the winds were blowing like it used to back then; suddenly I was 13 years old again. Oh! That feeling was simply ineffable.
Next, Gurung sir took me to Milan sir’s office. I was already in this cocoon of comfort after having such a wonderful talk with Gurung sir. So when I saw Milan sir I greeted him, waving my hand in delight. The first sentence I uttered was, “I don’t know if you remember me….”But before I could complete my sentence, he continued saying… “I do! In fact I recognized you the moment you waved from outside the room.” I kept a follow-up question asking him, “How come?” To which he answered, “Facebook”! I was not expecting to hear that but again I was pleased to hear he said that. I had yet another pleasant conversation with Milan sir and he too hadn’t changed a bit. He was still full of live, friendly as always with good sense of humor. I even met Bhujel sir who used to teach us GK and Social Studies. He was one of the friendliest teachers I recall and felt good to see him.
Words cannot justify the feeling I got when I visited the school after almost 12 years. It was back in 2001, when I had last felt those ground beneath my black leather school shoes and after more than a decade, my feet was on the same ground. I was in 7th standard then. I feel like this school owes me my entire childhood. From UKG till 7th grade, this school has contributed in making me the person I am today. When my parents had first admitted me in the hostel, I was only around 5/6 years old. I was the only girl in my class, probably one of the youngest; also diminutive (appearance wise).
Maybe not everyone is as attached with their past as I am. Maybe, not everyone becomes as vulnerable to the change as I do; maybe not everyone becomes as emotional with small and simple things like I do. Maybe I pause too often to see how fast the time is passing by, while others might care less how today is ripping away what used to be a part of them yesterday. Don’t know about the rest but I am truly attached with my longings rather than my belongings. I know we belong to our future but my pasts are my longings which I am very fond of, and will always be.