The school that is only in memories now
The old village high school, which was the only one around within a radius of several kilometres at one time, where generations have studied and passed out, sits pretty even today, occupying a prominent place just a stone’s throw away from the major junction in our small town where four roads intersect each other at perfect right angles.
The old village high school, which was the only one around within a radius of several kilometres at one time, where generations have studied and passed out, sits pretty even today, occupying a prominent place just a stone's throw away from the major junction in our small town where four roads intersect each other at perfect right angles.
Today the road is a busy state highway bustling with traffic. A new concreted Higher Secondary wing has been added to the old school, sporting the insults cum injuries, by way of broken window panes and foul graffiti, in keeping with the modern mindsets of the children, who seem to sport more of a destructive streak than good behaviour. After all what are seniors if not a bit rebellious, they seem to say. In contrast the old tiled structure stands as it stood more than a century or so ago.
Coming to the school, many illustrious alumni have learnt to cross their 't's and dot their 'i's from this grand old institution, some of whom constitute the who's who of the place. From the 103- year-old bishop Mar Chrysostum who headed the Marthoma Church, to professors, doctors and engineers (including my husband), this school was the launch pad for many who made it big in their individual capacities, simply because there was no other to speak of in the vicinity.
There is another personal reason connecting me to the school. It was one of my husband's lady teachers coming from our area, who played the 'matchmaker' between the two families, which ended in our marriage. Since I hail from a place within a radius of two kilometres from my husband's house, which is in the vicinity of the school, many of my relatives and neighbours of a certain age group have passed in front of our house, walking to school. They have all claimed to have eaten the fruits of our grand old rose apple tree in our front courtyard which has borne witness to generations of school- going kids helping themselves to its juicy pink and white fruits, sometimes facing stones and brickbats in the process.
Another feature of our small town is that almost everyone knows each other in some way or the other. School drop-outs who didn't make it up the ladder of success, may sometimes come face to face with their classmates who have become 'professionals' (as if what their less educated friends do is not profession but work!). The best part is there are no inhibitions between them, a coconut plucker may address a government executive engineer as 'eda', a term used among equals, as they were classmates in school. They would know each other only by their official names, as per the school register. The goodwill among classmates have to be seen to be believed. In some cases well- to- do classmates living abroad may send dollars or dinars in large sums to help their less fortunate classmates either to build houses or get their daughters married. The bond between them is special and cannot be understood by others.
In sharp contrast to its old significance, the school now stands shorn of its former glory, as a symbol of 'mediocrity', among the dying schools of the state, where even the poor will not dare to tread for fear of poor results, even though education is free. Ironically, the children of teachers teaching there study elsewhere, while they go from door to door canvassing for kids. This is the bane of government aided schools as there are private English medium schools by the dozen in every nook and corner. Though the vernacular language is being promoted by poets and cultural activists, the ground reality is that even the poor want to send their children to English medium schools! One can only hope that the school is restored to its former glory by the government by making the necessary upgradations, employing result - oriented teachers and improving the standard of the school. This will make the students want to study in there and one day proudly say to their children, 'That is my Alma Mater', like their older counterparts.