Sometimes you cannot let go; you cling onto the past or the past clings on to you, it becomes difficult to discern between the two. The only simile that comes to is like a leech (sounds rather grotesque, nevertheless …)
This feeling emanates from a desire not to let go, as you don’t want to, you find reasons to explain and reaffirm this primeval desire.
It could be a small memory; like your first love, the very first of your beloved; a place, a city or a school which just stands still in time , like your shadow at noontime, its there yet invisible.
Years have gone by but that visage just refuses to fade away, remaining a constant in a sea of variables..
Such is my memory of DMS, the school building, my very first friends, classmates, teachers all of whom I adore. Only vignettes remain but like a five month old looking at the world around in awe, glimpses of school days peep through in my mind. I seem to be stuck in a kind of time and space conundrum. I doubt there is anyone who while recollecting old times would not have felt that pull at the heartstrings and uncanny prickly feeling.
My very first memorable moments for me are those of the walk to the school. If my fleeting memory isn’t betraying me on this one; myself and my younger sister used to walk all the way from Acharya Vihar . (I never liked the rickshaw/ bus rides to schools that I attended in the later part of my life). There was this small space in the barbed wire fencing at the end of the campus, through which we could snuggle into the campus. Thinking of it today, I cannot imagine allowing my daughter to walk alone and unaccompanied for two and a half or three kms , spanning few streets and fringes of a highway. School used to start quite early, as in any middle class Odia family, day used to start early with a “Kua-Duba” bath followed by mom’s staple “ Ruti- Khira “ breakfast. With no fancy school bag rather an aluminum box as the only accompaniment we used to march school wards. This box was in all its shine was no inferior to a treasure chest; mostly adorned on the inside with loads of stickers. No fancy heated lunch box, just a packet of then ubiquitous and now almost extinct “Ampro” biscuits
It was all a nice little adventure , the small trek from the point of entry into the campus till the primary block. It was a rocky terrain, interspersed with some vegetation. I used to stop sometimes to watch the dainty yellow flowers peeking through the crevices in the rocks; and at times, post an overnight rain shower, small insects floating atop a little puddle. How can I forget the fiery red gulmohar blossoms heralding the exam and the much awaited holiday season; the swinging eucalyptus trees bordering the boundary wall, welcoming autumn and the fun in picking the small cones , storing them to make garlands for “Kandhei Bahaaghara”.
I remember there used to be a fifteen minutes break after the third or fourth class, I used to run away to a lonely spot, a little away from the school buildings, with lots of rock strewn across in a random pattern. This was my private moment all by myself, feeling the breeze on my face and gazing aimlessly into the distant. I am told in those formative years I was a quiet, collected child, though it is difficult for me to fathom that myself today. Coming back to the class rooms, we had those large windows with parallel railings, through which one could gaze in between lessons at the screeching parrots on “Karamanga trees”. To me those trees and the rocks beneath them on which you could just sit and ponder, felt like seats of power, radiating some invisible wisdom .
It is difficult to pen down and shape these memories which have remained buried deep within my subconscious for such a long time. It’s a very personal outpouring and I am not sure how many of you would relate. Those cherished moments found way in “dreams of school days”, sometimes of friends and often of those little treks. I studied in Bhubaneswar for four long years but never made an attempt to visit DMS but always felt that strange feeling of nostalgia whenever I passed by the gate.
I don’t have any anecdotes to narrate, no specific details to talk about but shall always treasure that innocent phase of life and the regret will always remain that I should have never left…DMS.
Thank you dear friends for letting me speak through my words and re-living some of those faint memories that may fade only when the mortal being ceases to exist…