The last time I attended the South Point School reunion was eight years back. So I was really excited when I walked into Wet-O-Wild at Nicco Park, recently, to attend my school reunion. While we had loads of fun here are a few realizations I had:
- At the South Point reunion everyone talked about and looked for his or her “byatha”.
For the uninitiated this means the sweet heartache that comes from having feelings for someone. This could be also entirely one sided. While some were elated to find their byatha (in this case the person), some were dejected they didn’t, and some revealed how they ensure they keep in touch with their byathas on FB.
The clincher came from someone who asked me, “Do you know if X is coming?”
She was a few batches junior to me and X was her byatha.
I answered, “I really don’t know.”
Her hubby, looking dapper in a jacket, smiled.
I just nudged her and said, “Wouldn’t he mind?”
“Arrey nah didi. We always discuss our byathas. It’s okay. I even tell him when my byatha comes in my dream.”
Then I met another classmate, happily settled in Europe, who confided in me that more than spending time in his classroom he used to spend time in front of mine.
“Who was your byatha?” I asked.
I rattled off the names of the good-looking girls in our class. He stopped me at one name and at 41, blushed like a 13-year -old.
“She also lives in Europe. Maybe you can do a Dilwale Dulhaniya train journey one day,” I joked. He blushed again and this time the red wouldn’t leave his ears.
And those who actually found their byatha and had a word or maybe even shook a leg, were also persecuted by a few judgmental kinds, who probably feared their friends were going to elope with their byathas that night or were plain jealous because they couldn’t find their own byathas.
One such conscience keeper in an attempt to embarrass a friend went up to him when he was dancing with his byatha, and said, “Would you want a picture together?”
The guy replied without blinking an eyelid, “Yes please. Post it on Facebook and make sure you tag my wife.”
Before I could react to this I saw A walking in then in a while spotted A’s ex-spouse B and then a while later spotted A’s second ex-spouse C with C’s current flame (I presumed. Now don’t blame me if this sounds like a riddle). All are ex-South Pointers.
- Don’t cringe if you are called auntie/uncle
As soon I entered I heard a young girl shouting, “Auntie! Auntie!” I looked around and spotted my friend’s daughter.
“Which batch?” I asked. “2011,” she answered. I gulped. I am 1991 Madhyamik batch.
Then she put up her mobile cam and said in a sing-song voice, “Auntie selfie time. I have to send this to mom.”
I don’t know if I posed with a heavy heart or with a heart full of realizations, but I posed happy at the thought that this young girl, at least, wanted a selfie with me.
Back to our table I could hear my classmates laughing and saying the reunion crowd was strong in PYTs and oldies, we were not fitting in.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that probably when we again go to the reunion after another eight years we would be in the second group.
Because the last time I had gone I was 33 and never knew just eight years would make such a hasty difference on others’ perception about me.
As such my five-year-old, who, I was under the illusion, makes me look a young mom, is after my life to colour my greying strands.
Another classmate introduced me to her daughter, who is a tiny bit taller than me.
I had just started reflecting on my own age all over again, when her daughter said, “Aunty I really liked your book.”
I felt like telling her, “Call me aunty as many times beta, because your words are music to my ears.”
- Most drank like it was their first sip from the bottle
People from all age groups were guzzling their drinks like it was their first taste of alcohol.
I guess the reunion reminded one of school days when you would sneak out a peg from your father’s wine cabinet and do the forbidden. Hence school reunion is the time when one is reminded that one is allowed to drink as much one wants, with one’s own money and there is no guardian or teacher telling you that it’s not right. It’s a way of celebrating the long way we have come.
I asked a friend, “How many pegs?”
He answered very nonchalantly, “Seven.” Then he added equally coolly, “I topped it off with biriyani and kebabs and parantha from the Oudh 1590 stall.”
My head had just started reeling with the information when I saw a guy swaying precariously standing in front of me. Then he went down on his face.
A young girl in a mini skirt, looked at one guy in our group and said, “Uncle, can you please help me pick him up?”
My friend gave her a semi-disgusted look and unconsciously ran his finger on the hint of grey on his side burns, then helped her pick up the sozzled guy.
I guess when you are neither too old nor too young you are just perfect to help in picking up the sozzled.
- For once a girl was not judged for hanging out with 10 guys
When we were in our teens being the only girl in a group of 10 was a strict no-no. Somehow the presence of just another girl made the gender equation more acceptable. Growing up as a Pointer whenever we made plans to go for movies, pandal hopping during Pujas or any other outing, the question at home would always be, “I hope there is another girl in the group?”
I saw no logic behind the question but I think it kept us safe from the so- called social stigma of the tag: This girl only goes around with boys.
But at the school reunion a girl from South Point School – she could be 18 or she could be 50 – is free to mingle, dance, be tipsy, click selfies and hang out with those 10 guys of her batch, or for that matter any other batch, without being judged without being asked questions. It’s indeed a liberating experience.
I for once, screamed and danced to Jumma Chumma De De like there was no tomorrow.
- The naughtiest are doing equally best
This time I met some of the naughtiest guys in my class. They were the ones who could never be disciplined, failed in class, were expelled and some passed with frightening marks.
I met a friend who actually had the cheek to come to school day after day with just a pen, without any school bag or exercise copies in the Xth standard and most of his time was spent standing in the corridor because he was punished.
When he felt like taking notes he would borrow paper from us and write and then crinkle the note and put it in his pocket maybe to bring it out only after the trouser had been washed.
But today he is in a good job and in one of the biggest corporations in Middle East.
Another friend said that he could click pictures with two batches because he had failed in the ninth standard. Then out of curiosity I asked him what’s his profession. He told me he’s lived in three foreign countries, is a citizen of one of those and a fourth one is his home now and he holds a good position in an insurance company.
Needless to say they are still the naughtiest, but they have made themselves the best too.
(Pix courtesy Kaushik Sengupta and Ranjana Roychowdhury Banerjee )