School ties

A while ago a friend contacted me and asked me to write an article for my school magazine. It was more than twenty years since I had left school, and for a while I couldn’t figure out what I could write that would be of interest to the students there today.  Then I thought, surely, even as the world has spun on it’s axis, and people have changed, some experiences are still the same. The experience of leaving school to go to University…the fear…the trepidation…the sheer enormity of the life that awaits, is universal. So, I wrote a letter to myself, aged 17. Or more precisely, to all the 17 year olds who were waiting for their exam results and nervous about what lay ahead. Here it is.

Dear P,

As you stand on the brink of a new life, you must have so many questions. You are about to leave the security of school, and venture out into the world. You are excited and curious. You feel that there are infinite possibilities ahead of you, and indeed there are. However, there will be many life lessons to be learnt as well. Do you not wish at this time that, somehow you could transport yourself twenty years into the future, and see where life took you? Well, without giving too much of the mystery and wonder of what lies ahead away, here is a glimpse of things you will learn along the way.

For instance, you will make many many friends in the years to come. However, your closest ones will still be the ones you made at school. Someday, you and your best friend will look at each other in amazement, and say, “We have been friends for thirty three years!”

University will seem so liberating after the confines and strictures of school. You will get bolder, and find your voice. Yet every time you submit an assignment that gets graded an ‘A’, you will remember your favourite English teacher from school, who nurtured your love of literature.

You will go through many milestones in life. Marriage, children, changes in career. You will go through the death of a parent. You will wonder in your despair, whether there is any light at the end of the tunnel. You will discover there is. You will find courage within yourself, and empathy within others.

You will learn that the most underrated virtue in the world is kindness, and you will attempt to be kind to those around you; but most especially to yourself.

Living in a western world, you will re acquaint yourself with your Indian values. Your spirituality, embedded in you all those years ago, will quietly make itself felt again. You will try and teach your children the simple philosophies that were an intrinsic part of your upbringing, and feel a glow of satisfaction to see them absorbed, much as you osmosed them unknowingly all those years ago.

There is a part of you that is afraid as well. Scared to leave the security blanket that is school. Scared to leave the familiar environs and head out into the unknown. To that part I say, don’t worry. You are just another sapling that has come out of this beautiful nursery. You have been given the soil of knowledge, the water of love, and the air of spirituality. You will grow strong and steadfast. You will learn to bend with the wind without being uprooted. This is the gift of your alma mater. Go forth and enjoy it.

With love and blessings,

P.

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