Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The School

Sheshadri woke up at 5.00AM, his usual time every day. He completed his morning rituals and was at the breakfast table by 7.00aM. He had the day’s newspaper in his hand. While he was busy pondering over some important news item, his wife snatched the paper and kept a plate in front of him. It was his favorite breakfast.

“What’s special today? You have prepared my favorite after a long time” he winked at her

“Ofcourse it’s a special day. Isn’t It?” She smiled and went in to get the hot cup of filter coffee.

After the breakfast, Sheshadri went to his room to get dressed. He took out the neatly ironed crisp white dhoti. It had a very thin golden zari border. He then took out his favorite light blue shirt, and then wore the black coat, which made him look very handsome. As he proceeded to leave the room, near the door was his cream and gold turban, which he picked on the way out. As he was nearing the main door, he realized he forgot his most loved possession. He went back to his writing desk and picked up his pen. He put it in the pocket of his coat.

As Sheshadri walked, almost every day greeted him with a smile. There was no doubt; he was one of the most respected men in the entire community. In 20 minutes, he reached school. He had been a part of school, from the time he was a kid.

The first time he came to the school, was with his dad. They did not have uniforms then. He wore a mini white dhoti and a grey shirt with a black turban. His grandmother had pinned up a peacock feather to his turban. She always thought of him as Lord Krishna. He had been a top scorer in Mathematics, Science and Sanskrit. He had ventured out of the town to gain knowledge in the 3 subjects. He had come to the town and joined the same school as a teacher. In a few years, he was able to convince everybody that girls deserved to be in such a great school and they deserved to have girls in their school. Years later, his children were students of the school.

He had served the school for 35 years. It was time for him to retire. Neither him nor the school wanted him to leave. But they had to abide by the rules. As he entered his room, there was a note kept on his desk

“Beloved Sir,

You have always been our inspiration. We will be grateful our entire life. We would like to invite you to the auditorium, for a little surprise. Please grace the occasion.

-A humble request from your students and staff”

He remembered how he had gone in search of the best builders in town to get the auditorium built. It surely was one of the best in couple of towns nearby. As he neared, the building seemed too huge and overwhelming to him. The security guard near the door, smiled and bowed in respect, and opened the door. As Sheshadri stepped in, he could hear the loudest applause ever in his life. The number of people in the auditorium was astonishing. Students had come from all over the country. As he neared the stage, the crowd cheered. He took the centre stage, folded his hands in front of everybody, and bowed down. The applause had stopped but there was not a single person present who had not stood up. He gestured them to take their seats. He also took his place on the stage.

The farewell went for hours together, where Sheshadri did not utter a word, but everybody else wanted to convey what his role had been in their lives. He was moved by their speech, and content that he had touched so many lives. The vice-principal of the school came to make a speech. He wished Sheshadri for a peaceful life ahead and mentioned that they would be like lost sheep without his guidance, and that even though he would officially not be a part of the school, his suggestions and guidance would always be required.

Finally, it was time for Sheshadri to give the speech. He had never liked long speeches as a kid. He had followed the same principle as a teacher and till date as a principal. His speech was always, short and crisp. He made sure they left a mark on the audience. But today, he was emotional. He dint know how to talk. For the first time in years, he felt, he would probably fumble in front of his students. His first speech as a student flashed in front of him. He remembered, he was the 1st standard, and he was supposed to talk about a topic for a minute. The topic given to him was school. Sheshadri smiled. He knew what he was about to tell his audience.

As he came near the mike, students rose from their chairs. Sheshadri neared the mike.

“Thank you. Please be seated. I might fumble if I see all of you stand. You don’t want to do that to your old man now. Do you?” Everybody laughed and sat down.

“I remember the first time I was asked to give a speech in my life. I was given a minute to speak. As I picked the sheet of paper, my hands trembled. But the moment I read what was in the sheet of paper, I had a smile on my face and my father says, he saw a twinkle in my eyes. The topic I had to speak for a minute was “school”. I spoke for a few seconds. I finally ended saying “I will never ever leave this school. I love it here”. Little did I know then, that I would stick to my words. I have always loved the school, and the reason behind it is all you students, teachers and the staff. I will always have time for you people. And today as I leave from here, I would like to repeat what I had said decades ago, I will never ever leave this school. I love it here. My soul will always find peace here”

He bowed in front of everybody, waved his hand at them and moved out of the auditorium.

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