This photograph was taken in our school premises — Vidya Mandir High School in 1977. It’s the 10th standard class photo. Even to this day, we, the students of class 10B, are very close and have stayed in touch through all these years.
The school was built mainly for the children of the employees of ITI Ltd, one of the public sector units built by the Jawaharlal Nehru government in the 1950s. The school has a big ground measuring two acres which no other school could boast of back then.
As most of the students in the school lived in the ITI quarters provided by the factory, we were bound as one family, irrespective of the language we spoke. This ITI Colony had a beautiful park where many films were shot and as a kid, I used to stand awestruck looking at the shooting along with my friends. We all studied in the same school for 12 years (nursery to SSLC), growing into very distinct individuals, and left the school to face the world separately. Till then we had never thought of how city life would be because ITI those days was huddled among villages away from the City.
The school where we studied was a haven where there was no discrimination of any kind. All were treated equally by the teachers. They taught me well and guided me to become a responsible citizen but it is my mother J Josephine Bai, a teacher herself who encouraged me to become a teacher. I am proud to say that I was given the ‘Best Teacher’ award in 2005.
Along with the many doctors that the class produced, I remember my singer friends SN Susheela and BR Chaya from the next section with whom I used to sing during the school day programmes. We eagerly waited for such school day programmes as they were opportunities to display our talents (of course, guided by our teachers). We would cheer each other at every competition and if, by some chance we missed a trophy, I would fall silent at the loss.
My friends K Srinivas was a football player in the Indian team for four years and Keshav Reddy, Jaysingh, Yesvanthkumar TN and IH Shiri were good NCC cadets of our school. I am proud to say that two of my classmates are doctors — Dr Nagendra Hebbar and KV Chandra.
I remember my teachers even today as they worked tirelessly to bring out hidden talents in us; they inculcated the love for learning in us.
I wish to mention R Radha Krishna Rao, my drawing teacher, who moulded SN Susheela, now a music teacher at Bangalore University, and BR Chaya, a playback singer. Other classmates like J Shekhar and SD Kumar work in the world of television and journalism.
One day, we decided to visit school and when we sat to discuss our lives (after getting in to our classrooms and sitting on the benches), I felt very nostalgic. My classmates, K Srinivas, Keshav Reddy, IH Shiri, Chaya, Susheela and many more came to my mind. I really missed Naaz Athulla, my benchmate who helped me with English. Now we have decided to meet at least once in three to four months to share our sweet and bitter experiences of life.
Unlike the students of today, who have no time even to have meal with their parents, we enjoyed our classes, apart from participating in extra-curricular activities.
Our school is 58 years old but still stands tall, welcoming everyone who seeks knowledge, and when we visit it, our heads bow automatically in great reverence and gratitude. We wish our school stands tall forever despite the stiff competition.
(The author can be reached on 9845821417.)