Two years ago, I had taken an initiative to organise a reunion of all those students and well-wishers who had helped me found, and then run, The Dawn Club. It was taking place after twenty-long years. I had tried to contact almost every one whose helping hand had brought me till here... but, it was not possible to get in touch with all of them. Still, I managed to get in touch with as many as I could.
I wanted to thank them, re-live all those golden memories... I brought out two books to mark the occasion... captured the beautiful moments, our fond interactions, on live video beamed on a mega screen in the auditorium... and, finally, the event culminated with a sumptuous dinner. I felt a lot relieved, content and even proud. It was around 11 in the night, and I and my wife were about to get into the waiting car to leave the wonderful auditorium and the just-lived memories behind. My mobile phone rang. It was one of my students who had attended the function. I thought he was calling me to thank me, compliment me for the 'great show'. "I did not expect this from you," he came straight to the point. I was caught on the wrong foot, completely off-guard. "What,?" I managed to ask him. "Did you forget my contribution? You never bothered to mention my name even once on the stage, leave alone felicitate."
I freezed for a while. I was to return home with golden memories, and sleep well that night. This phone call ruined my night... and many more to come.
Even in my wildest imagination, I could not have deliberately done what this ex-student of mine claimed I had done: to 'ignore' him. I loved all of them, I remember all of them, I am grateful to all of them. Period. A reunion was not required to express my true feelings. Still, I thought that would help. Possibly, it had exactly the opposite effect. I do not know how many more must have been let down by me, that night. One had the honesty to express. He did not stay for the dinner... When I tried to explain my innocence and sincerity, he was not ready to accept it... My later effort to reconcile went in vain. Then, I declared in my mind: "Some relationships have a very high maintenance cost."
I chose to drop this burden.
Now, just last month, some of my early students - in fact, my first batch of students from the College where I first started teaching - got in touch with me. They were organising a grand reunion after thirty long years. (The Tenth-standard batch). They had arranged to personally pick up all their school teachers, who were now retired, old and sick. (Well, I still have some teaching-years left, I hope!). And many of the students - who are now doctors, engineers, professors, advocates, CEO's of companies and even simple house wives - had come from all over India and abroad... specially to be there in this emotional event. I was picked by a group of my old students... and I was so happy to meet them, receive their memento. We all had changed so much... We couldn't have recognised without introducing ourselves. I had lost contact with almost all of them. So, I was particularly happy, and even grateful, to the young organisers for enabling me to 'touch base'.
I predominantly operate from my heart. I, instinctively, decided to express my gratitude and affection to all those students and teachers - whether I had taught them or not, and whether those teachers were my colleagues or not - by handing them over my own memento... a copy of "Vaachas Chame' to all of them... Over one hundred and twenty!
There was a Divine, in fact mysterious connection, here. 'Vaachas Chame' was released by me, exactly two years ago, in the reunion function I have described above. The cost of printing and publishing this book - huge one - was entirely met by many of my students. Incidentally, none of these students, whom I was now planning to gift away the copies. I had decided to give away the book, with no strings attached to it... just the way my well-wishers had helped me create it. "This book is not for sale"... I had announced on the back cover.
So, when my turn came to speak, that afternoon, a dozen students came to the podium to stand around me... I spoke very emotionally, as I always do... and thanked them. Told them, how they were my 'lauching pads'... and how I shall always cherish them in my mind. I told them about my heart-felt souvenir - 'Vaachas Chame' - which I would be leaving behind for them. I told them about my three phone numbers, my email-id and this Blog... through which we all could remain in touch. Saying so, I left. The reunion 'celebration', I was told, continued till the wee hours of next morning. "I just cannot get over the hang-over," one of my ex-students told me, some days later. "Did you handover the book to all?" I asked him. "Yes, to each and every one," he told me."Great," I exclaimed, "Let's remain in touch." "Definitely, sir," the response was genuine.
It is almost a month now. I have been dying to receive a call from any of those one-hundred-twenty beneficiaries of my heart-felt souvenir. At least one. At least one comment on my blog... or a 'thank-you' for the book, or "Happy to see you after thirty long years" ... whatever.
Am I grumbling?
Well, we all are strangers who meet briefly during this travel called 'Life'. We are happy, and grateful, that we had this privilege. Yes, the privilege of meeting!
I love all of you.