Being a holiday, I got up only after the newspaper was slightly warm, due to the morning sun staring right on him in my balcony.
After breakfast, I watched Chota Bheem Aur Krishna with my son. Being a Karate buff, he was waiting for the next show – Chota Bheem and Master of Shaolin.
But I was waiting for the clock to strike 11. My friend Mahim had called me the evening before and told me about the Alumni meet to be held on the Republic Day at 11 in the morning at KVM…the three letters, in that particular order, brings back numerous memories!
On the way to school, I saw a flag hoisting ceremony taking place in an apartment complex. I stood on the foot path and sang the national anthem, with the elders inside. When I was nearing the school, I was not sure whether to go through the front or the back gate. But as they say, habits die hard. And I entered through the back gate, as I did years ago.
As I entered, I saw the tri-colour, and on the stage were seated Prabhakar Sir, as usual in a suit and coat (Retd. Principal) and Nagaraj Sir (Retd. Lab Asst.), Badri Sir (Physics), Vasanthi Krishnan madam, Mulgund sir, Kanthamani madam, Kulkarni madam, Jayalakshmi madam and Subhashini madam. Kusum Talwani madam and our beloved Satyanand Sir joined in soon. It looked like they hadn’t changed at all, since I last saw most of them, and that was years ago.
I was trying hard to recognise many faces out there on the ground. Most of them seemed familiar. Some seemed more familiar than the others. I could identify VVN Kiran, brother of VVN Anand, my classmate. I saw another face which told me I had seen a younger version of it a few years back… yes it was my super senior Venkataraghavan, ever chubby and plumpy! And it was easy to identify a couple more who it seemed had never changed, like Binu (Michael Jackson) and Sowmya (singer with cat eyes).
The meet started with everyone singing our school prayer. After that, a few known teachers and some unknown spoke one after the other. Badri Sir spoke of his KVM days, the disciplined students and his beloved colleagues.
As is his wont, Prabhakar Sir regaled us with his usual wit and memorable anecdotes. He started off with his signature style of tapping the mike, and wished us. He said, “Not much has changed since your school days…like the olden days, you students are still in the hot sun while we teachers are as usually in the shade (on the stage)”. He continued, “I usually don’t attend functions, but this one was a special one. A couple of years after I retired, I was called for most functions invariably as a Chief Guest. But since 1995, I told that I would like to carry lovely memories of this school, so please don’t call me. But today, I am enjoying being here. However big shots you people may become, you are still my students. That is the advantage of a mother and teacher. “
He also narrated the story of how the windows on the ground floor got a fence. It seems the constant attack by the cricket ball and football would keep breaking the glasses. And Prabhakar sir would summon the parents of the boy who was the offender to pay for the damage. And the parents would naturally crib, haggle, crib, haggle… To get rid of this problem, Prabhakar sir told he instantly took the decision, after getting consent from the Commissioner, to erect fences, which was done in a jiffy by asking a local guy to finish the job. He told there was no sending a letter to Delhi, getting sanction, inviting a tender…none of the formalities!
“…Most students here would either remember me for the slap that they received, or a prize that they received.” And when he asked “How many of you have received a slap?” quite a few hands went up amidst laughter.
The current principal Meenakshi Madam was happy to see the old students. She thanked Ms.Sumalatha, an alumni, who is currently working in the school as a teacher, for this alumni meet. It was pure bliss to hear Kusum Talwani madam’s endearing Hindi amidst KVM trivia. She said it was Prabhakar sir who made her lose stage fear and be a good orator and told “Prabhakar sir jab hamaare principal the, woh KVM ka swarn yug tha!” In her typical style, she ended her speech with “Bharat ka swarnim gaurav Kendriya Vidyalaya layega”.
Nagaraj Sir spoke about the early days of KVM, when it all began in 1966. In his humourous speech in Kannada, he told if he started sharing anecdotes since 1966, it will be late evening. But he shared a couple of stories of how the headmaster from the opposite Government High School had helped by accommodating the KVM students in 5-6 classrooms where the present CET Cell is situated, when our school was yet to get its present building. Also, due to the lack of space, the primary students came in between 7 and 11 in the morning while the others came between 11.30 and 4.15pm, he said. He said, “During Prabhakar sir’s tenure, KVM was just like Vijayanagara during Krishnadevaraya’s rule. This is not an exaggeration or praise. He taught us how to be efficient and work in the right way that will bring accolades.”
When his turn came, Satyanand sir got the most cheerful welcome. He sportingly said, “I don’t know if you guys are cheering me or booing me!” He too said that he has skipped many a family functions, but he was not going to miss this one for sure, as KVM was so dear to him. He stressed on the fact that parents must inculcate good habits in children and tell them the importance of both academics and sports, as both are equally important. I asked him to say a few words about Shivanna Sir, who is not in the best of health. Satyanand sir told how he, Shivanna and some colleagues used to play for a few minutes after school, before winding up for the day. It seems Prabhakar sir also used to join for the volleyball sessions, but used to excuse himself saying “hands are paining, Satyanand…time to take leave”.
One ex-student gave the command ‘Schoooool, Raashtrageet shuru karegi, shurooooo karrrr” for us to start the national anthem. We stood still and sang it. After ‘School Veeeeeshraam’, we dispersed and met our teachers and friends. Pictures were taken, memories shared.
Sumptuous lunch was awaiting us on the other side (at the front ground). Delicious Ladoo, Mouth-watering Puliyogare and cool-as-cucumber curd rice with pickles were served for lunch. Puliyogare was a blockbuster hit with the crowd!
Chatting with Satyanand Sir during lunch, I got to know that he still rides his light green Bajaj scooter 1098! Nagaraj sir told that the 1982 model scooter ought to be at Sri Veerendra Heggade’s Vintage motor collection at Dharmasthala!
Nagaraj sir said, “After a family function, we immediately leave after lunch. But here, we simply don’t feel like going”. He summed up everyone’s feelings in such a simple way.
Myself, Mahim and his better half went around our classes starting from 1 std. ‘A’ sec. Some classes still had the old furniture while some had new tables and chairs. Mahim even rang the good old bell!
A few changes are evident – like the enclosure which has been made where there used to be Ramamani madam with her Sanchayika team (next to the Staff room on the first floor), and an enclosure on the first floor next to the stairs. An entrance has been made to the cycle stand next to the rest room on the ground floor. The auditorium (a brainchild of Prabhakar Sir) on top has got a better false ceiling and the wooden stage has a neat carpet (than those thick red-green-blue striped jamkhanas full of dust…remember cleaning them with each one holding one corner and each one trying to put dust into the opposite’s eyes?!).
Titled ‘Reminiscences’, we saw some old pictures on the notice board and could see late SVL madam, Iyer Sir, Suleena Nair madam, Nalini Ravel madam, Baby Sir, Suryanarayan Sir, Ramamani miss among others. Taps look sleek and good looking, and less menacing than the ones we used to operate – during our days, some taps were so hard and difficult to press… but if you were successful at getting the water out, you could not stop the tap, and sometimes would jam your index or ring finger! It was a pleasant surprise to see less of water leakage all round the school.
It was late afternoon when we bid adieu to the place which had given us numerous memories – some good, some bad, some naughty, some adorable, some cheerful, some tearful, some lovely, some scary… the list is endless. With a heavy heart, we came back to the future out of the back gate.
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