It was a pretty mammoth one, considering the build up and the organisation had been three years in the making. Out of a batch of a 160, give or take a few, 70 odd made it from various parts of India and the world, to celebrate their alma mater. Twenty five years, a quarter of a century, is a fair bit of time to grow far far away from the trunk of the tree, but the roots have an umbilical pull, a clarion call that rung out into the far corners of the world, pulling us back to what had once been a central part of our universe: our school.
Just before leaving for this Alumni meeting that I was so excited to be going to, I ran into an American lady at my local salon. We got chatting and I mentioned that I would be meeting friends I hadn’t seen in twenty five years. She said something that stayed with me long after. At her 10th year, High School reunion she said, people were puffed up with a sense of their own importance. They were there to show how much they had accomplished. How many degrees they had, how far they had climbed up the corporate ladder. In contrast, she said, at the 25th, people were far more relaxed. They had nothing to prove anymore. Consequently, it made for a better atmosphere.
I had been in touch with at least 30 of my batch mates on this modern marvel of technology, an application called Whatsapp. We had joked together, planned together, ribbed one another, and the curiosity and the excitement had reached a deafening crescendo, one that I was willing to bet, would peter into a whimper. How wrong I was! Four days in the company of this riotous crowd far exceeded any expectations our collective visions could have conjured.
There were no egos. People came from all walks of life. There were those who had done tremendously well for themselves, while there were others who had settled into cosy domesticity, or more mundane careers. There was no one upmanship. Each one was glad for the other. Rejoicing in one another’s successes, and providing a listening ear to the sorrows. As we gathered together, this motley crowd in our forties, stranger themes emerged.
Old infatuations were revealed. Young men who had yearned, but never had the nerve to reveal it to the objects of their affection, declared now with great gusto, how much in love they had been. The recipients of all this ardour were at first abashed, and then revelled in this late great show of gumption. Curiouser still were the sparks that flew between random batch mates. Late bloomers who had peaked in their attractiveness were naturally most sought after. It was, for the most part, an innocent rekindling of long forgotten embers.
Ex flames met up, and exchanged niceties, all rancour forgotten. Too much water under those bridges. Then there were the mostly seen, never heard, so called nerds of the batch. All grown up now. Their personalities honed into a distinct attractiveness, rough hewn by life, their fierce intelligence giving them an edge over their jock contemporaries.
There was a getaway after the main event. Another occasion to bond over food, laughter, music, provided by a home grown, phenomenally talented singer in our batch, alcohol (the names and varieties that I shall omit), dancing and general tomfoolery. Four days culminating in a night long orgy of revelry.
At the end of those four days, the only regret we had was that it wasn’t longer.
Why was it so special? Was it because, never before nor ever again, would we be able to recreate this magic? Or because, each one of us could feel the last of our youth slipping away? And this was our way, our tiny little attempt, to hold on to the vestiges of that incredible time, our childhood, with mates whom we had shared our (mostly) ignominious past with.
There is talk of another get together in a few years time. Another attempt to gather together this crazy (and I say this with a lot of affection) crowd of nut cases, and head off for the hills, or a beach somewhere. Will it come to pass? On this grand a scale? I doubt it very much. But who is to know for sure? After all I was proven wrong this time. I hope I am again.