Most parts of that day are still crystal clear in my mind. We had our last exam, the practical science paper of 20 marks, that day. We were so happy that the first gruelling exam of our lives was over. The run-up to this day was full of stress, over a month long ordeal of academics and board exams. And perhaps in that stress, coupled with the joy of finally breaking the shackles of hostel life, we had failed to realise that those were the last few days in heaven.
It didn’t quite dawn upon us the entire time while we were busy with the last minute packing and loading our trunks and hold-alls onto the school bus which was to take us – boys – to the railway station. The boys had another thing to be excited about: we had all somehow convinced our parents that we could travel home alone this time and, quite mysteriously, they had all agreed. Finally, after bidding farewell to our juniors, seniors and teachers, we boarded that bus. And then, as the bus started from the boys’ school main gate and past the front pitch and principal’s residence, it finally hit us – probably all of us together – for we all started looking at each other. Suddenly we all realised what we were leaving behind. My heart welled up but since boys, we were, so we held it back to not show it on our faces. As the bus pulled out of the school’s main gate, I took a last glance at it and then the Jharipani post office- the likes of which I have never seen to this day. We started singing songs, perhaps to hide our inner turmoil better. As I saw the winding roads rushing behind, I felt a tear or two trickle down my cheeks and the coldness thereof as the tears evaporated in the cool breeze from the embracing hills around us. Finally, we reached the railway station and unloaded our luggage near the parcel depot using their trolleys to take our big boxes inside- a privilege of studying in a railway school. We bid adieu to the bus and its driver, the last remnants of the relationship with our school. After having some food and our last shopping in the by-lanes of Dehradun, we returned to the station. And then it all began….
There were basically 2 or 3 trains for different routes which would take all of us to our hometowns. The first train (don’t remember its name) was for those who were to go on the Patna route via Delhi. A few boys boarded this train and we said our goodbyes and hugged them for the last time. The feelings were building up inside. Then came the second train for those on the Bihar route via Lucknow. Majority of us, including me, were to leave by this train. After having loaded our luggage and stuff, we came down to say our goodbyes. And then suddenly, I don’t know who started it, almost all we boys burst into tears- crying like babies on the shoulders of our buddies. The people on the station, especially the parents who had come to pick up the girls of our batch, were baffled and everyone was looking at us in surprise. We, nevertheless, oblivious of the onlookers cried our hearts out. It was only when the train starter chugging out of the platform that we boarded onto it, some of us still holding hands of our friends on the platform. But life is cruel and as the train picked up speed, we had to let go. I still remember how I wailed in that AC 2 tier coach when finally some of the parents had to come and calm me down. I don’t think I had cried even half as much when my parents had left me for the first time in Oak Grove and I am glad that they weren’t there around at that time to witness all of this. Soon after, a couple of hours later, when I was a bit calmer and composed, I got a call from my mother informing me about the birth of my cousin sister. So every year on the 27th of March while I wish her ‘happy birthday’, I am reminded of that day and of what had transpired on Platform no. 1 and today, being her 10th birthday, I know that a decade has passed since that train metaphorically took us away from our home. Every year on this day, all of this just flashes in front of my eyes, no matter how busy I am in my life.
– Rishu Raj (2010 Batch)
This submission was e-mailed by Rishu Raj on March 27, 2018. This is his first article on Oakgrovians Young and Old.