The reunion – Sankar Higher Secondary School

The reunion…. Sankar Higher Secondary School, Sankari West, Tamilnadu, India. Murali Chellappan takes us through his recent school reunion….

Our WhatsApp group “classmates” has over 30 students from the SSLC batch of 1979. We had two “sections” as we called those days – A & B. We are in touch, some active, some not so active. But when Rajeshwari, my most active member of this WhatsApp group started a discussion on a reunion the group suddenly became alive and active. We connected more than we had done in a year.   Soon Venkatachalam, another classmate of ours, who still resides in Sankari, running a pharmacy store, chipped in to take up the responsibility of venue and arrangements.    We decided to meet at the school. Rajeshwari and Pushpalatha (another classmate) arrived 2 days earlier to the event to help Venkatachalam in organizing things. Our reunion was on 27th April.

We met once in 2013, but that included students from all the classes of SHSS.

I studied in the school for just three years, from class 6th to class 8th. I have managed to recall and be in touch with a few. But many had studied for much longer term.  The school that is run by India Cements Ltd, was a co-ed school.  Most of the students were children of the employees of the Company. Many of the students were from economically weaker homes. In school, we met and bonded. Happy times, when our entertainment meant physical exercise classes and playing with friends. No television. Going to the movies was not a frequent activity. Many of the students lived in the ICL (India Cements Ltd) colony. So most walked to the school.

Five of us left Chennai to reach Sankari on the 27th morning. We spoke through the journey and got to know each other better. When some were reeling out names and associating them with incidents in school, I could recollect only 4 or 5 of those names. Our reunion was at the school. A shamiana ( stage and shelter) was put up and was ready to receive us. The chairs for us to sit and connect. I noticed that many things had changed over time in the school. Those days, the school had a huge playground and it would take some time to access the classrooms. But now, there were more concrete and buildings, and I felt the walk to the classroom was much shorter. The cycle stand which used to be a vibrant place of activity was not where it was when we studied. Hockey and basketball connected us. I slowly recalled the ICL canteen, where a wonderful tea would cost us some 10 paise those days…. My mind drifted to those happy days.

Suddenly there was a buzz.  Vaidyanathan Sir ( our Headmaster when we studied) walked in with his wife.  He is 93 and his wife should be 87 or so. He had traveled from Bangalore for this get-together, courtesy, his son Sridhar, one year senior to me in SHSS, an IIT Madras alumni. I was amazed and inspired by his active aging. He was agile, mentally alert, and witty to the core ( I recalled the strict headmaster he was when we studied and the person I now saw). He mingled effortlessly with each of us.  Was inquisitive about what we were doing.   

I showed him my Distinction cards that I had preserved and requested him to sign again. He was like a small child absorbing every bit of information everyone was sharing. He could recall many of them as well. He was a headmaster for over 17 years in the school. We asked him if there were similar re-unions, and he said that there were about 5  active ones. My memories drifted to school life again. I learnt cycling when I was in class 7. We had a drawing master who used to ask me to go to the nearby shop and get him cigarettes. My incentive was to ride his cycle to do this work. I learnt to cycle well, thanks to him. I met my Tamil Ayya ( that’s how we referred to Angappan sir, our Tamil teacher). I recalled to him a play that I acted. I had donned the role of a lady (Mami) for the play. He had written a song for the play that I had to sing. When I recalled and sang the song, he became emotional that I remembered it so well and gave me a warm hug. One of my classmates Meharunissa recalled some of my mannerisms, the way I dressed and walked. I sang the invocation song, the National Anthem, and a song related to the event.

Thanks to Facebook, we discovered many of our friends over the years.  And thanks to Rajeshwari for her relentless pursuit to put up a group together.    We were very happy to hear, that Khader Moideen one of our classmates, had retired from Indian Airforce, Srini another classmate and a very close friend of mine, now a successful professional in Singapore, Suresh was doing great with one of the largest financial services organization at Mumbai, Sashikumar doing his business in Chennai, Pushpalatha running a kids nursery in Alleppey, Umarani who stays in Erode. Others like Venkatachalam, Velumani, Varadharajan, Thiagarajan, and Mohan, and still there were many, for whom Sankari remained their world. Rajeswari is from Chennai and is expected to leave for Sweden to join her son’s family, in June. It was nice meeting with HM, and teachers, Angappan sir, Kadhiresan sir, Srinivasan sir, Pavayi teacher, etc.

The classrooms we studied, the stage where we participated in competitions, and plays, the morning assembling place, the grounds where we played football, hockey, etc., all took us fifty years back

We all parted after the function with kindled memories and a good feel and a slight heaviness in our hearts, promising to meet again, the next time with our families.

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