In the 1972 hit movie, To Sir, With Love, Lulu crooned, "Those school girl days of telling tales and biting
nails are gone, but in my mind, they live on and on…" Over the years, this emotionally touching song has grown to be almost a school-leaving anthem wired to thank teachers for their selfless service. My friends from school, Amitha, Poornima and Ranjana, and I discerned that this song struck a chord with us
Cottonians as we were additionally guided by our school song, "Nec Dextrorsum, Nec Sinistrorsum."
We had deemed it judicious to meet after our II PUC exams were over, for we knew that once our graduation years started, we would be up to the neck in studies. Indeed, these years had to be taken very seriously since they would decide our careers. I had stuck to my guns and opted to study Arts as that would enable me to become a writer and poet. Poornima and Ranjana had decided to continue in the Science stream, with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as elective subjects. Amitha, the most ambitious of us, had decided to fulfill her parents' legacy and pursue Medicine at Christian Medical College, Ludhiana.
On that spring-scented morning, we, the quaint quartet, were sprawled on Ranjana's feel-at-home furniture in her flat, talking nineteen to the dozen. Indeed, our school and PUC days had been full of endless, idyllic happy-go-lucky moments which we knew would never come back. We spoke introspectively and laughed heartily as we reminisced about the teachers who had taught us and our varied classmates, each a unique character, who completed the scholastic picture.
We had thought that PUC years would be of fun and frolic, but since the four of us were in the Science stream, we knew that we would have to study hard given the intense competition. Science practicals were sacred, and missing these classes even for a day would tell on our marks and spoil the routine continuity of our experiments. But we loved Biology for its dissection of earthworms and frogs; Chemistry for its colourful chemical liquids that we poured from flat-bottomed flasks to pipettes and burettes; Physics spawned in us a love for the mechanical and the technical, with its prisms, magnets and many lenses.
However, a description of PUC days would be incomplete without a mention of our Physics lecturer who used to sprout the most innocuous and inane comments! I remember this one time when the college had organised a PTM (Parent-Teacher Meeting). Our Physics Sir was, of course, enamoured only by the parents who were engineers as that gave him an opportunity to show off his knowledge of quantum physics!
When he saw my parents, his face drew a blank as he could not fathom their professions. He immediately called me aside, and asked me with genuine curiosity, "I say, yourself, Heera Nawaz, in what occupation is your father occupied?"