Every individual in Kolkata has at least one friend from South Point. This was a Facebook post I had come across a few years ago. I assume that to a large extent it’s true taking into consideration the huge volume of student inflow and outflow every year. When I had graduated from the school in the early nineties, it was the biggest school in the world as per the Guinness Book of World Records. For eight long consecutive years i.e. from 1984 to 1992, it had this unique feat. I’m fortunate enough to have done my schooling with 600 odd fellow students.
After we stepped out, all our friends were in different educational institutions. Most of us had lost touch with each other. Remember it was the India of the nineties when an unexpected Prime Minister took over the reins of the country after Rajiv Gandhi’s untimely demise. The nation was debt-ridden. The only ray of hope was an ex-governor of Reserve Bank of India to pump in money. Yes, Narsimha Rao had to completely depend on Dr Manmohan Singh to wave the magic wand of LPG (Liberalisation- Privatisation- Globalisation). Bottom-line is that we weren’t providential enough to take down the contact numbers of our pals as most middle-class households didn’t have a telephone.
But the countless priceless moments that were engraved in our heart had never gone astray. Such was the power of our bond. Even after losing touch with our buddies nothing changed much in our relationship. Twenty years later the same Dr Singh was the Premier of the country which was then a developing nation. Every individual is carrying a mobile; if not a Smartphone. But most importantly almost everyone had a social networking account. It was a boon for us to get reconnected with our school pals. Almost 450 of us got reconnected with each other. 217 got connected the day when our first Facebook group was formed. We decided to catch up. Everyone is a separate entity now. Some are into business, some in services and some are professionals. But what surprised me was that the camaraderie that we shared a couple of decades ago remained the same in the cyber era as well. When we meet up hardly we discuss the professional successes one had over the other or who owns more assets than whom. These things become extraneous when it comes to our bonding. That’s the majesty of our lifelong friendship. India has moved from the age of Puritanism to the Digitized era but nothing comes on the way of our amity.
What is the secret of this friendship? Why wasn’t it impacted despite being detached from one another as we were totally oblivious to everything related to our chums? It is because we didn’t just go to an educational institution. We had studied in a school that never taught us to discriminate. Every individual was given equal respect. We were brought up with some morals. We never lost touch with our bases. Most of us are pure bongs who can talk in the Queen’s language as and when required. All of us are cosmopolitan Bengalis and no way pretentious, unlike a typical bheto bangali.
We have all the topics on earth to discuss be it showbiz, sports, politics etc. We can relentlessly and effortlessly talk on each topic. Our upbringing ensured that we have minimum awareness about every affair apart from our regular curriculum. Today when Dr Manmohan Singh has almost retired from all sorts of regular public life, we all hope that our companionship lasts till the final breath of our lives.