April 20, 2014

It was a bit cold yet surprisingly warm Sunday in Mussoorie and I was supposed to join my new school. A school that would, in the next two years, become a place I would love more than my home. A school that would bring me a mix of memories and relationships to be cherished lifelong.

Changing into a new set of uniform to report was another bag of mixed feelings. It was as if a page was turning in my life. A page that would, I had a feeling, change me forever.

I remember clearly, meeting the former principal, Mr. Sandeep Trivedi who responded with “Now she looks like an Oak Grovian,” on seeing me that day. That one statement, surprisingly, bloomed a little sapling of pride that grew into a tree in the two years that I was there and now that I am out of the school, the tree of pride, My Tree of Pride, has outgrown me and I know that because my head automatically rises up in pride every time I say or hear the name of my school.

The best story, I have realised, from my two years at the school is what I have titled, ”Sadiyon Ka Kissa

I know it sounds funny but let me add a disclaimer:

“This story is entirely fact based and is totally related to the real situations, characters and happenings of real life. Any resemblance to the living is purely purposefully done. No aspect of the story has ever been told before and it is being brought into the public eyes for the very first time.”

Now that being said and done, let’s get to the real story.

A week into my new school, which, let me enlighten you with the fact that I was totally loving and enjoying, I was (kind of) being recognised as a good student overall (or at least that is what I like to believe, but I think at some point the teachers will agree). I was happy, ecstatic and content.

The best part for me though, being far away from home, was talking to my matron every second or third night. She would tell us about the legacy of the school, the ex-students who have made us proud, so on and so forth. And one random day, she said and I quote:

“Isey dekh ke bilkul nahi lagta ki ye yahaan nayi hai (Seeing her, it doesn’t seem as if she’s new here one bit). Lagta hai ye yahaan kitne saalo se hai (Seems like she’s been here for ages now).”

This statement of her’s resonated with me at an entirely different level, because it reminded me of what it was exactly that I had felt on April 20, 2014.

My first day at school was a Sunday and students of class tenth, the same batch as mine, were coming back for the start of the new session. Day 01 and I had already made two friends. They helped me set up everything, told me of the rules, the do’s and don’t’s. But what I found to be really weird that day was the part when they were showing me around the school.

Now, those lucky ones who have been to the Senior Girl’s School know the basic layout. As you enter, there’s the faculty room and the headmistress’s office on the left. Then you cross a door to find the classrooms and the common hall on the right and the dining hall on the left. Also, two sets of stairs to reach the dormitory. As you move ahead and exit the classroom area, you come out to see the playing area on your left and stairs to the badminton court on the right with the lavatories at the very end. A very British-ish architecture.

The moment the three of us started walking towards the classes, them showing me around, it was as if I knew exactly what went where. Before we could take a step in the corridor, my mind said to me, “Dude, that’s the door to the dining hall.” The same happened when I was showed around the classes, the common hall, the play ground and it was the strongest when I was shown the way to the badminton court.

Now, some might say that it is what we call “Deja Vu” but I don’t think so. I knew from my first day of school that Oak Grove was a special place for me. It still is.

It gave me a new sense of purpose and hope when all felt lost. It gave me my individuality and to a point, my personality which I currently love to flaunt, I daresay. I don’t expect everyone to understand what being an Oak Grovian is like but one thing I can say for sure, it happens only once and if you’re in, you’re the luckiest ever.

“We love this school of ours, we’re Oak Grove’s children true,
We’ll serve her in the darkest hour, and in her glory too.”

– Ruchi Lata Pandey (2016 Batch)

This submission was emailed to Oakgrovians Young & Old by Ruchi Lata Pandey on May 18, 2018. This is her first post on this website.


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