Having been rudely woken up by the ‘ultrasonic’ (for want of a better word!) wake-up alarm in my Nokia 3310 at 4.45 in the morn, my mind didn’t register for a few minutes that it was the farewell-day. When it finally struck me some 5 minutes later, my initial reaction, quite surprisingly, was joy, even exhilaration; let alone sadness!!
My enduring mom had already woken up and was preparing my lunch. I quickly dressed up, and carefully packed my ‘farewell outfit’ among other things. I had tuition at K.K. sir’s place that day. Since Dad was on an official tour to Delhi, I made it to his place with my friend & classmate Deepak, well, ostentatiously late! (My friend is quite ‘famous’ for his punctuality!) Sir had instructed us to do a worksheet of sorts with questions from Quadratic Equations. My mind was so full of farewell that I could hardly do twenty problems in those two harried hours, depressingly-slower than my usual ‘rate’. After class, I caught a packed city bus to Sreekariyam with Deepak. No sooner did I reach Sreekariyam, I literally ran to ‘Hotel Anand’, bidding a quick good-bye to Deepak, who was off home to change. The sumptuous Ghee-roast at ‘Anand’ literally opened my eyes. Enthralled at the prospect of the farewell, (and FORCED by the lone 10 rupee note in my purse) I chose to traverse the kilometer-long path to school by foot.
Sidharth & Speedu (Deepu S.) had already checked in with their mundus firmly (well, at least, so they felt!) in place. Donned in my farewell-attire (A Dark blue Park Avenue Shirt & a mundu with green kasavu) after a quick, behind-locked-doors rendezvous with my class, I felt like my screen-idol Mohanlal! (A visibly-thinner version of the star, that is…) Soon fellow mundans (or rather, soon-to-be once-upon-a-time-classmates) trickled in. By nine-o’ clock each and every one (excluding one rather er… elusive guy) had assembled by the sides of the school-day auditorium in the school-quadrangle.
It was a rather funny sight to see the 100-odd plus two students in mundu(for non-mallus: mundu is Malayalam for ‘dhothi’). Some people looked jaw-droppingly handsome, clad in the traditional mallu attire. Others, due to their visible lack-of-experience with the mundu, were rather embarrassed, gingerly lending a hand to the ill-protected clothing so as not to make fools of themselves. As usual, Lakshya was the laughing stock of all, with that crazy way he’d wound himself in that cotton fabric, which he called ‘mundu’. He’d even brought a ‘fun-camera’ along. It was quite a sight to see him clicking away clad in that piece of clothing! Arun ‘Akri’ Kumar had the brains to trade his ill-fitting mundu for a pair of jeans. Meanwhile a few of us (i.e. the singers amongst us) were practicing the customary farewell song. This time it was ‘Pal – The Indian Idol edition’. We’d sung the same song for Chris Gala and had secured the first place. The song was touted to be a sure hit, at it did become a phenomenal attraction. (After all, I was among the lead singers!!)
The ‘Farewell assembly’ began at around 9.30. We were to walk into the quadrangle from the left & right sides (ISC guys from the right & HSE students from the left) of the school-day auditorium and seat ourselves in the steps in front of the basketball court, under the very eyes of 1200-odd schoolmates & teachers. (If you didn’t quite get that, I guess, the accompanying video-grab should explain). The rest of the day was typical farewell-stuff: speeches by Pindi,oops… our ‘rather’* revered Principal Father Varghese Anikuzhy, Rakesh (School Leader), Anand ‘Ambi’ A, Albenia Madam & our Juniors. Raku’s acknowledgement of “the invaluable contributions made by different people in our lives” was good, albeit a tad not as spellbound as those tear some, mind-blowing speeches by his predecessors Vishnu Dattan & Arun Andrews. Albenia Ma’am’s speech that followed actually made the whole audience a bit dreary. Ambi’s pointed speech bordered on his attachment to the school, subtly training his guns on Pindi (for ruining Loyola! Why else?) In-between, our ‘Indian Idol’ rendition took place. Our juniors also did their best to put up a good group song dedicated to us. On the whole, our ‘in-the-open’ farewell assembly wasn’t quite up to the mark, but we’d expected that. The ill-fortune of our batch had, after all, extended unto the farewell!
Post assembly, it was time for an array of photo-sessions. There was the quintessential farewell-pic with everyone gathered around pindi – one of the most memorable group photos ever… The pic remains a personal favourite (despite that man’s ghastly presence!) Countless flashbulbs burned & many a CCD recorded some of those unforgettable Kodak moments…
Dreary-eyed, having been subjected to those blinding flashbulbs, we’d decided to rest ourselves awhile putting off an action-packed football match. It was then that Ambi instructed everyone to proceed to the IT lab. Everyone happily obliged, but he wouldn’t drop a word about what was to happen. It was the ultimate mouth-opener at the I.T. lab. Ambi had made a recording of sorts, dedicating a song to each and every person. It was the pinnacle of hilarity!! Though lack of time allowed him to allot songs for the first 30 roll numbers, the whole idea was quite refreshing and fun-filled.
The most memorable dedications were ‘Omanapuzha’ to Alan & ‘Chentamara’ to me. After an hour of Ambi’s ‘recording’, we were left teary-eyed, thanks to a fit of non-stop laughter!!
It was then our juniors’ turn to treat us. The indoor games stadium was the make-shift venue for the treat. Probably the only person in town allergic to ‘biriyanis’, I politely refused the biriyani, only to gobble up meaty (pun intended!) portions of other items in the menu!! If my classmates are to be believed, the food was one of the best they’d had in recent times. Well, from my point of view, whatever I ate satisfied my slightly-oversized tummy!!
Gleefully thanking our kind-hearted juniors for the hors d’ oeuvres, some of us settled down, talking about whatever that came to our mind. The topics ranged from impending board & entrance exams to old-time crushes!! XEVFUAN** was indeed a topic of widely-publicized discussion. It was around that time that the cat had got out of the bag! Others, energized by the sumptuous feast decided to sweat it in the football ground for some time.
After an hour of whiling time away, we were summoned to the Sutter Hall for the final leg of the farewell ceremony. The ‘assembly’ in the morning was actually the informal one. The best was always reserved for the last. This final ceremony was deadpan-serious and was actually quite a discreet one, comprising of the outgoing plus two batches and all the teachers. I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of this assembly the previous year, when John Mathew, Roshin & I were assigned the task of ‘volunteering’. From an outsider’s point of view, I gathered that it was a bit tedious. But, when it was time for our farewell, I realized how starkly wrong I was!! On a more honest note, it was one of the MOST moving ceremonies I’d ever attended…
By about 2.30, everyone made it to the Sutter Hall (the school-auditorium that regularly is the venue for LA Fests). DP briefed us, instructing us about the ‘Lighting the Lamp’ ceremony & all. It all began in the usual solemn manner, with pre-written speeches by teachers. On a regular assembly, such speeches would have attracted nothing but brickbats from a harried audience, but today, there was pin-drop silence! For the first time, we collectively listened to speeches, pensively analyzing and reflecting upon every single word mentioned. The teachers’ group songs that followed were seraphic, to say the least. Especially, the ‘Jab deep jale aana…’ number crooned by none other than our own Jerry sir (The music teacher at Loyola), whose voice then seemed to have a remote resemblance to that of Yesudas. This rendition was later followed by a soulful ‘Kanner poovinte’ by Mahesh & John, which on completion found everyone staring at each other, tears in their eyes!
Maithri Madam’s touching speech at the farewell will remain firmly etched in the minds of all who’d assembled there. It brought back a plethora of memories of her fourth standard Hindi classes! Thomaskutty Sir, DP, & Prabhu Sir (discreetly veiling his displeasure with our batch) wished us all the best in life. Thomaskutty sir even sung a self-translated English version of a popular Malayalam song. Then it was the turn for the students to recall the memories associated with their lives as Loyolites. Roshin & KC spoke of how they related to the school many degrees higher than their previous schools. People like Ashish also tried their hand at a final parting speech. Gokul SG was literally driven to tears before the completion of his speech while a suddenly-perked-up Siddharth gracefully assured Maithri Ma’am that he wouldn’t opt for a trodden career in Medicine or Engineering and that he’d do his level best to cross the gates of NIFT (and yes he did!).
The candle lighting ceremony was arguably the most solemn ceremony any of us had ever been to or seen. As we approached the teachers with lighted candles in hand, and as they wished us all the best in life, the ominous realization of parting with the school stung us! Many of us (myself included) were on the verge of tears. Unable to hold back, we cried openly (like we did when we first entered the portals of the institution), tears streaming from our eyes, sobbing uncontrollably, hugging each-other. It was so painful, the pangs of leaving one’s alma-mater to face the cons of the big-bad world! We finally realized, albeit a li’l late, what comfy lives we lived… It was all over! We weren’t children! We’d come of age!! We were grown-up fully-blown MEN! We had to leave school…
Though the hours-long football match at the school grounds that followed was filled with fun & frolic, the realization that it was all over couldn’t be dispensed with. Walking back home clad in shirt & mundu, holding the Loyola crest & the candle, that famous Malayalam verse by O.N.V. Kurup, which our teachers had sung for us came to my mind:
“Verutheyee mohangal ennariyumbozhum, veruthe mohikkuvaan moham…”
[‘Tis true that there’s no point reminiscing, still (I) feel like doing so…]
*rather – Well, Reverend Father Varghese Anikuzhy S.J. is SO fond of the word that he makes sure there’s a ‘rather’ in every sentence of his! ‘Rather’ occasionally doubles as a nick-name, btw. (Hey smart-alecks, it’s just a coincidence that ‘rather’ rhymes with ‘father’!!) It’s not that he’s poorly trained in English or something… It’s sort-of a trait, actually!! Sample these ‘statements’ of his:
“Aye you, I’d RATHER tell you to come here…”
“I would RATHER tell you to shut your mouth…”
“It would be good if I RATHER say that LA Fest 2005 was an unqualified success!!”
**XEVFUAN – An old, long-time crush. Blew my heart away in a Maths Tuition class during my 11th standard days… For details, refer ‘Crushed’ in this blog.
With this post, I positively & imperatively intend to bid a ‘farewell’ (Rings a bell, doesn’t it?) to Loyola School in this blog. Okay, there’ll be references, still no more full-blown posts dedicated entirely to ‘Loyolish’ content like this one. I’m sure the long succession of ‘Loyolite’ blogs seem obnoxiously boring, with every other Loyolite starting a blog proclaiming ‘Loyola School is great!’ Well folks, if you didn’t feel the pinch yet, you will soon. ‘coz I hear at-least a dozen of such blogs are in the pipeline!
Which simply means: Brace Yourself!! The best is yet to come…
Do keep visiting & Adios Amigos!!