Sometimes it’s after many years that we start taking much notice of our lives. It may be because it takes a particular number of years to become conscious of what we’ve become today. It’s only after becoming a teacher that someone remembers the way his teachers made him understand, illuminated his life and paved the best path for him.
When we bid farewell to our school lives we assure ourselves that we’d come to see our beloved teachers at least once a year. So we do. As long as those remembrances seem worth cherishing, we keep on stepping into our school ground just to embrace the past and to be wistful for a moment. But have we ever imagined seeing a teacher who taught us when we were doing O/Ls after such long years of distance? It’s more often than not ‘no’. But what if actually after 40 years, your teachers are present in front of you? How would you feel?
Last week, I got an invitation to attend a get-together party in Anuradhapura which was organized by my mother’s O/L class mates. At first thinking that I’m going to get bored, I made up my mind to accompany my mother and father. I knew I wasn’t going to seem an important figure in the context, and never wished to seem like one too. I didn’t hope to enjoy any of their conversations but only thought of picking one or two to make friends. Surprisingly, the vise-versa happened. There was an evening session which was exactly as a ‘samithi,’ a small conference where all the teachers, friends and their family members took seats. At this point, I had started feeling that something I’ve never felt before was going to make me experience how sincere human relationships are and how greatly and remarkably they can be fed without letting them be buried in the past.
I haven’t lived in this past. This is their life several years before the day I was born. It was like a classroom of adults who were then school boys and girls. The teachers took their seats in front of the hall facing their students. Someone kept on announcing how it looked like 40 years ago, and how it feels like now to dig out the memories of the distant past. They recalled what made their school days mischievous, being on the right side of fifty now. Amidst those remarkable conversations I realized that all those students had been so fortunate to have their teachers in front of them even after 40 years and that the teachers had been so young when they first met their students. On the other hand, the teachers too are comparably lucky to get a chance to share what they feel seeing their beloved students after becoming parents.
For me, this was certainly a great life event for those who are a part of the 40-year-old past. Towards the end of the small ‘samithi,’ I could hardly hold my eyelids opened, but the speech of a personality that I’d wish to encounter at any moment in my life dragged me back to the world where I was feeling like nobody’s child. And this made me feel special. I felt related, as if being a part of his speech.
He was the eminent lyricist Mahinda Dissanayake. It was one of those rare, unpredicted and precious moments I happened to come across. He had picked a few songs from his collection. He played them for us. He made us feel the music together with their camouflaged deep meanings. We could relate them to our own lives. He explained how those creative endings burst out through his experiences. In fact, he could share his innovative heart and soul with us for a while. I was silently wondering how my mother’s teacher turned to be a teacher for me too at least for a couple of hours.
The future comes so soon. At times we feel shrunk when we’re involved in a union of three or more generations. No big reasons are needed for the right people to bump into one another’s lives at the right moment.