Ms. Shirali Shah, 2009 Batch Alumni
I woke up to the thought of missing Udgam today. While having breakfast I started thinking about how much fun school was, those crazy times we’ve had throughout, from sincerely studying, to harassing the teachers and to completely going bonkers during the boards, now that we have all entered the “Real world” or so they call it. Seems rather ironic to me. I cannot put into word the amount of memories this school has given us and vice versa too. I sat there wandering in my thoughts when suddenly I blurted it out loud “ I MISS SCHOOL.” And there mom was, smiling at me and she said “Why don’t you go visit then?”
It struck me. I needed to go.I want to go. I want to relive those moments. I want to meet the teachers. Specially my favourite (Vijayalakshmi Mam)! I want them to know how very successful all of us are in our very own fields and its all because of them and what the school has taught (hammered) into us. Well, it’s at least that way for me. I still owe everything I am as a person in the outside world, to Udgam and will always do.
As soon as I knew that I wanted to go, I quickly got dressed in denims, a blue-checkered shirt, black shoes and a blue bag. Yes. I can’t visit school without its dress code. Can I? And there I was looking at myself in the mirror and smiling to myself just at the thought of stepping into school after 5 years. I had jitters. I got into the car. What will I say? Will they recognize me? Will they talk to me? Would I be able to act as alumni and not a student? Am I scared? Or just nervous? But happy too at the same moment? In this think thank, I reached the GATE. I took a deep breath, stepped out of my car and started walking. First thing I took in was the whole view of the school with the biggest grin on my face and I start walking in with my head held high just when I hear the security saying, “Madam kiska kaam hai?” In my mind I wanted to shout and say, “How dare you stop me? I’m a freakking Alumni of this school. I have been here more years than you have!” But instead I said, “I need to meet Radhika Mam.” Right when I was about to enter the building the first things that came to my mind was, damn has our school expanded. And how! I just keep walking and then another lady stopped me, “Madam, kaha pe jana hai?” And right besides her was one of the maids who instantly recognized me and told that lady, “Arre aapdi chokri che. Aavado andar.” My heart smiled. But I still needed to take permission from the registrar and finally, I entered. That concrete building. Things had changed, classes were different, cabins were different but I still felt at home. I walked into Radhika Ma’am’s cabin. She couldn’t recognize me at first. But as I talked to her and gave her a few names of my classmates she recollected. I asked her if the Batch of ‘09 could all come to Udgam and have an Alumni meet with all the teachers. And she said YES. I couldn’t be happier. She gave me her business card and asked me to contact her if I gather 25 students from my batch and I knew, 25? We are ALL gonna go. Right? I asked her if I could meet the teachers and she was affirmative.
I started walking up when I saw Priya teacher, the one who taught us English as kids. She quickly recognized me and we get talking when I see Malobika Mam walking down the stairs and she looks at me, I smile at her and she’s just trying to figure who I was and she finally remembered me. And right after that I met Shulbha teacher, Jaswanti teacher, Manju teacher. The teachers were all so so happy to see me. They kept telling me what a bubbly, naughty student I was and how different I look and asked me what I do now. Well I expected that. But I never expected them to be so happy saying, “We miss your batch. We had a bond. Now the school has expanded and we hardly even know names of our current student.” The conversations went on and as I left the staff room I hear a voice. I stop and see its Dhanya teacher. She was so surprised to see me. But, I still had that one teacher on my mind, my favourite one, and I go looking for her and I spot her. There she was looking slightly different this time, Vijayalakshmi teacher. She was taking a class and as I knocked on the door she turned around and didn’t even take a second to think about who I was, she shouted, “Shirali!” and ran out of the class to hug me. Exactly what anyone would want from their favourite teacher right?! An hour and a half down I decide to say bye to all the teachers in the staff room and then happened the moment of the day. Dhanya teacher came to me with my passport size photograph from 12th grade and showed it to all the teachers. “How do you expect us to recognize you now?” And they all burst into laughter. Each and every teacher who taught us was ecstatic and so happy and proud.
As I was leaving after saying the final goodbyes, there I stood on the third floor outside Class 307. 12th grade Science. I look into the class and the memories just came crawling back to me. It was beautiful. I stood in the corridors looking at all sides of the school and at the assembly ground in between and I just kept smiling.
The highlight of the day was that each and every caretaker we had on our floors recognized me. And also when I went looking for teachers in staff rooms, a few new teachers asked me, “Which class does your child study in? Are you looking for him/her?” (major turnoff)
I proudly told every teacher that everyone in our batch is so very successful in his or her field and they couldn’t be happier. All the teachers kept naming students they remembered and asked me what everyone is doing. They remember us. They do! Finally, I took a last trip to the canteen and playground and left a happy person.
I still cannot stop smiling. I'm lost in the memories and the days. The corridors, the canteen, the computer lab, the water breaks, punishments, washrooms, playground, staff room, I can't get enough of it, and this isn’t even close to half of it, I’m sure every Udgamite would agree. Ah, this is bliss. I think my satisfaction and happiness is sorted for a few weeks now. Lingering thoughts. Beautiful memories and an even better day.
Thank you Udgam. For Everything. Nursery to 12th. We owe you. We love you.
P.S. Cheesy enough to say but, "Those were the best days of my life."