Silence!— Mute silence! We stand quietly for our grace. Such silence is terrifying. Never has this grace being given in a fraction of the silence which it got today. “Sit Down” comes the unusually soft order from the prefect. We all sit down. There is no rush for the plates and bowls. Each waits for the other to start. There is a terrifying feeling that something is wrong! Something is out of place!
Yes, we are on the verge of achieving what we had set out for. Years of toil and sweat are bearing fruit. Yet, there is no elation. We only yearn for a few moments more. We say our grace and move out. This was the last meal we had as the students in this glorious institution. Institution! This place was much more. The April sun is not yet warm. We take a last glimpse at the science lab and beyond. The rocky ledges… The same through the billions of years. The years we had spent here…not yet a part of the distant past.
A junior comes forward. “Sir”, can you all write your addresses in this diary? Silently we scratch our names in barely legible handwritings. We remember how we had felt like prisoners in this endless mansion. Now freedom was being offered to us and we wished to be enslaved again. A few of the emotional ones from our pack sob quietly wiping their eyes and nose with the excuse of having a cold. We understand. We pat them. No word of comfort is said as none of us is capable of breaking the barrier of silence. We all try to absorb the maximum in these last moments. I remember a line from one of our English passages. “The silence below. The dark sky above. An eternity beyond.”
We hang our bags in unison. We move to the teachers’ quarters to pay our last reverence to them. Not a word is spoken as we trudge our way towards the exit. Strange. No one to wish us goodbye. We feel depressed. Suddenly, near the valley we come across all the small friends who were waiting to give us a surprise. The barrier of silence is shattered. The eyes that were holding back an ocean of tears can hold it no more. Slowly the sobs give way to rolling tears. We swoon and cry. No frontiers—no boundaries. All of us become one. A moment to remember for ever.
We look back. One single look at the building which has produced so many scholars for a century and yet shows no sign of retirement.
Our sincere love and eternal respect to the paradise on earth— Oak Grove.
– Diptesh Ghosh (1992)
This tribute was penned by Diptesh Ghosh on behalf of his batch in April 1992. It was subsequently published in the school magazine, The Oakgrovian, a scan of which is also featured in a post in the Photographs section of this website.