The year was 1968.A cold wintry morning in the month of January.A group of tiny little boys, suddenly, found themselves transported to another World!A World that they would live in for 11 years. A World that would then Live With Them for the rest of their lives! Loyola, Loyola, we’ll sing a proud refrain…
Nary a day went by, when they didn’t remember the world that they had left behind. The world that had meant so much to them! The world that had given them friends and memories to live with for the rest of their Lives. They returned on 17th December, to reclaim those Memories.Loyola, Loyola, till the echoes ring again!
Yes, there was a lot that went into preparing for the reunion. It started over six months ago. We had lost quite a few of our fellow men to the compulsion that LIFE must come to an END. So, we decided that before we lost a few more, we had to meet. December became the chosen month.
The requests stared pouring in. Caps. Tees. School Tie. Mementos. A meet up with the old teachers. Cricket with the present School Team. A photograph on the Red Stage. An evening with other Alumni. A bus ride through the city which had to include old homes and haunts, new points of interest, the Dimna reservoir which was the source of our “Gaanv Ka Paani” and the proverbial drive to the highway for a meal. The icing on the cake, a performance by our very own rock band, The Fools!
The guys who were based out of Jamshedpur met and decided that they would go the whole distance and ensure that their friends from across the world would partake of an experience like no other. Everybody had to take out three days from their calendar if all requests had to be fitted in. Out of the original 124, we had lost about 15 and barring a few, we had about 105 chaps who were part of the network. 65 of the guys committed themselves to those three days of December.
The serious work began. Logo design. The pen sketch of the school quadrangle for the Coffee Mug Memento, which was executed by a classmate in Chennai. The last thing he managed to do while the city was deluged and before he lost electricity and the internet. Cap and Tee from Meerut. School Tie from Kolkata. The memento for our teachers. A symbol of our respect for all the values they had instilled in us, during our years of growing up. That decision took the longest. It was decided that the photograph that would be taken along with them on the Red Stage, would be printed within the hour and put into a Silver Photo Frame 10”x8” and presented to each of them. A task that was accomplished.
The day finally arrived. What a reception. To the beating of the Nagaadas and the splendor of Fireworks, all of us walked in to reclaim our memories. Hugs, back slapping, inability to recognize some of the small guys who were now strapping young men at 53. The bald guys. The thin guys who had gone big. The big guys who had gone slim. An evening in high spirits with singing of popular songs, of our times, including renditions from Julius Caesar. Yeah, these 53 year olds were still at it.
A few hours of sleep later, on the morn of the next day, the guys turned out on the school field to play in the nets with the school cricket team. Slightly portly, most of them still had their game. A quick shower and change into our school uniform and we were ready to honour our teachers. One was 93 but still fiercely independent. He walked without assistance save his walker. Two had come from out of town. The chaps, each of them, introduced themselves and spoke of what they had achieved because of the education they had received from the school through these very teachers. A sumptuous lunch later, we departed to meet again in the evening at the Loyola Alumni Association’s AGM and Bonding Dinner. The evening was eclipsed by the performances of the kids from Gandhi Ashram, Kalimpong as well as those amazing guys who go by the name Ability Unlimited. All this at the state of the art Fasy Auditorium, which has been designed by an alumnus of the school.
The last day. Wake up calls at 7am. The city tour began. Winding along those old memories, favourite haunts, familiar homes, even familiar homes of old flames, the gaanv ka paani and lunch at the highway. Soon, the night was upon us and it was time for the proverbial icing on the cake. The Fools who had prepared a song list, bridging the distance of continents and countries that separated them and practiced individually came together after 37 years to put together a performance that would rate among'st the best and right up there with the greats.
The wives and kids who had joined in on this momentous occasion were awe struck at the bonding and excitement generated by these 53 year olds. Guys who are head honchos of major companies. Some who are well known entrepreneurs. During the course of those three days, they had become teenagers once again and reclaimed their memories. With the promise to meet on 30th November 2018 and Till The Echoes Ring Again….
George has retired and lives with his wife Mona (SHC 1984) in Mumbai. But his preferred hideout is in Lonawala. He is often referred to as George the Google by his classmates in reference to his amazing memory. Contact George Thomas Puducherry.