Lessons in life
Now an 'old boy', Harendra Alwis ponders on what school taught
A year ago, school was more than a memory to me.
I was there. It was the last few days of my school life and I was savouring
memories of fourteen years as I blinked back the tears from my eyes. I
could not bear to say good-bye to the place that had made me what I am.
As the rhythm of my heart echoed "We will honour yet the school we knew...",
I had to leave with the promise to return as someone my alma mater' could
be proud of.
The first day in school is vague in my memory. Barring a few embarrassing
incidents, I remember very little of those first few years.
The junior school was carefree and happy. Studies were never considered
a burden there, just a way of killing time until the interval came by for
all to play, and after that, until it was time to go home. Generally, teachers
were nice people who sometimes had a bad temper and that temper was to
be avoided at all costs. Almost everybody came to school to play. It is
only now that I am beginning to understand most of the lessons I learnt
We went through the middle school smoothly and 'uneventfully' by our
standards. Studies suddenly came to be considered 'important' and a sense
of competition crept in. Discipline was stressed more than anything else
and sports dominated the priority list. We learned a lot, and for the first
time, we were able to make sense out of what we learned. Teachers weren't
as distant and there grew a better relationship with them.
There were secret discussions among us, about various 'natural' phenomena,
and some who claimed to know the answers gave misleading interpretations.
The upper school was the most romantic of all. Many of us were up to
a lot of mischief and we got caught often and made a lot of people very
angry. These escapades opened our eyes to the realities of life, our minds
to the richness of the world, our shoulders to responsibility and our hearts
to love. It is a time we will remember well for years to come, not because
it was the most recent, but because it was the best. Books came to life
and for the first time studies topped the 'charts'. Play was just for 'recreation'.
The arts, drama and the numerous clubs became a part of our lives. Laboratories
were sacred places. Classrooms were temples in their own right, places
that some atheists rarely visited but where the faithful were duly blessed.
We developed a more mature outlook to life and much time was spent in
introspection. It was also a well of temptation that many fell into while
others drew out of it, the water of adulthood and success. They quenched
their thirst and filled their minds for the journey ahead. It opened vistas
of freedom but those who took off without the compass of self-control,
lost their way.
Public exams came one after another and some of our friends parted to
take their different paths in life.
The sun was setting in the west marking the end of a beautiful day called
school life, only to rise again from a different horizon with new rays
of hope. Those rays would shed new light on places and people we had never
seen before. The end of our happy days in school was drawing near and our
hearts were heavy. There were no regrets, because we had gained all we
could from her rich pastures, though giving back in return only a fraction.
We did not say good-bye but "God be with you till we meet again" as we
set forth into the desert not in search of an oasis, but in search of the