Reuniting friends, reliving innocence: How school reunions are a trip back in time

These are the stories of a few reunions, some reminding you of the film '96', when those that split as teenagers met again as grandmothers, when boys turned into dads and relived a time they most loved.
Reuniting friends, reliving innocence: How school reunions are a trip back in time
Reuniting friends, reliving innocence: How school reunions are a trip back in time
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Chances are, most of us would have grown up hearing parents and grandparents saying on and off, school days are the best days in one’s life, enjoy it while you can. Good to know that, you would think. And here, you were having the best days of your life, but what to do with it. It’s just there, and it’s just going on, you can’t really shout about it because you are going to lose it soon. No, to know its worth, to know what they spoke of, you have to pass it, and then look back at it.

Tamil film 96 would have appealed to many of us for many different reasons, but that little bit in the beginning, when Ram enters the old school, and hears, as he climbs the staircase, the old sounds made by a group of class X boys and girls twenty years ago, that should have struck several chords at once. If you think it’s just the magic of movies with all its background music and sound effects, you should listen to someone who’s just gone to a reunion. Sreelatha Radhakrishnan, who was once OM Sreelatha of Class X, 1982 batch, St Mary’s High School, Vettucaud, Thiruvananthapuram hasn't had a reunion with her class for 36 years. Until December 30, 2018.

Reunion of the Class of 1982, St Mary’s High School, Vettucaud

Sreelatha kept in touch with a few who remained in the neighbourhood, the rest had gone far and wide and it was not a time when technology let you click each other’s profiles and chat. So those who had split as 15 year olds met each other as grandparents. The boys in the next classroom, now men in their 50s, too joined them. “It was an idea that came from one of us who used to be a counsellor, and has some interest in literature – Bosco Desilva,” Sreelatha says, excitedly like a child. It was not easy, finding each other. A couple of them went on bikes to houses of old students to find them and inform them. The familiar method of forming a WhatsApp group happened much later.

“Three of them are teachers at the same school. We invited our old teachers too. They wore orange. We - the women – wore red Saris, and the men were in blue,” Sreelatha says. They honoured the teachers, the children who became rank-holders, they decided to help the less privileged among them. There was poetry and music, lunch and snacks. December 30 became a day Sreelatha would love to remember in the days that would follow it.

December is a convenient month for reunions. “That’s why we chose Christmas day. We were anyway going home for the holidays,” says Durga Krishna Kumar, a speech therapist in Kochi. She had studied at the Mullurkara NSS School in Thrissur district. It’s a village, she says, and those were not days when everyone had a phone. Many girls were married off early and left the place, leaving no address behind. Much like Ram did in 96 (the leaving part, not the marriage).

The 2000 batch reunite in front of their school, Mullurkara NSS

“The idea came from Sreejith Pullat, who works in Technopark. He started this Whatsapp group for our batch – 2000 batch – and called it 10-C. The members were added one after the other and suddenly there were 25 of us. It was easy to find most of the boys, who remained in the village. The girls were harder to find,” Durga says.

It is true the idea came after 96 released, Sreejith says, but that wasn’t the trigger. “I was thinking about it when I saw all these other Whatsapp groups for college groups and wondered why we didn’t have one for our batch. I spoke to an old classmate who was running a textile shop and through him, found other boys in the class. It was difficult to find the contacts, when you don’t even really remember all the names, and the old photos are blurred,” Sreejith says.

After meeting in a cafe, the group visited the old school. Unfortunately it was locked and they couldn’t go inside. “But everything had changed. There are new buildings now. My classmates too have changed so much. It’s 18 years since I saw them,” Durga says, not hiding the excitement in her voice.

For Cynthia Chandran and friends, it is a usual affair – these get-togethers. They make it for nearly every Onam and Christmas. “But this has happened only in the last ten years or so. Not before that. We finished our BA English Language and Literature back in 1994, from All Saints College in Thiruvananthapuram,” she says. They would theme it too, green or red for Christmas, white for Onam. “We might be in our 40s but we are all young at heart, the attitude and everything.” She then talks of her elder sister Brinda’s reunion which was even ‘cooler’ - the 1989 batch of BA Economics, Women's College, Thiruvananthapuram. “They followed a theme of 60s Retro – all polka dotted tops and lose bottoms and gigantic sun glasses (pic on top). They looked so hip!”

BA batch of 1994, All Saints College, Thiruvananthapuram

Another really interesting picture came out of the reunion of Class XII of 1992 of the Carmel Garden Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore. They wore their old uniforms! They didn’t actually wear what they did in school, of course. But the same colours – white shirt and khaki pants. They went to the trouble of finding badges like the ones they wore back then. “It was our silver jubilee and the reunion had been planned for a while. There were smaller reunions before that. The idea just came with a notion of being together for a couple of hours and laugh together. When you are with your old friends, you feel younger, you lose your inhibitions,” says Dr Krishnananda, who feels he relived the old days in those two hours.

Boys of 1992 batch of Carmel Garden Matriculation in school uniforms

That was the idea too. To relive it, and make it as close to reality as possible. That’s why the uniforms came so that momentarily they could pretend time has not passed since 1992 and they are still there in the old boys’ school, being boys. Perhaps for a moment or two, believe it too. “We even arranged the sweets we used to have then – jaggery balls and honey sweet that we got for 25 paise back then,” the doctor says, making you travel with him to a time gone by and feeling a familiar ache for it. Each person brought to the reunion memories too, to share and remember and laugh about. “I don’t know how many people realise this, but the relationships you make in school are extremely special, pure, genuine.”

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