First of all I wish my reader a very happy, safe and prosperous 2021 albeit the fact that a similar wish from your near and dear ones last year somehow did not have the intended consequences.
When I think of summarising the tumultuous year gone by I am reminded of the section titles of Panchatantra – Mitrabheda (break up of friendships), Mitralabha (gaining friends / gains due to friendships), Kakullukiyam (of crows and owls), Labdhapranasam (loss of gains), Aparikshitakarakam (hasty action). Like the stories of Panchatantra, the events have been great learning experience with friends turning into foes unexpectedly, hasty actions resulting in unpleasant circumstances that could have been avoided, and so on.
This is the first post of the year. I am posting after a long time. Life during the last couple of months have been so full of care that what was intended to be the last post of 2020, has become the first post of 2021. That is one of the perils of being a part time writer. When you have no time to stand and stare, you cannot do justice to your art as an author. When you are preoccupied with the unexpected extra burdens concerned with your roji roti many other concerns are also kept at bay untill at some time you feel like a Rip Van Winkle who woke up and wondered why the world had not frozen during his sleep.
Of course it was not a period of sleepwalking. A couple of weeks back the horror of the world tried to break into our house. The newspaper boy had dropped the Times of India at the doorstep. Since it was a matter of roji roti for the hawkers as well we were too polite to ask why he had re-started without our consent. Nothing much has changed in the format or quality of content. On weekends you have to search for nuggets of news among the labyrinths of advertisements. Of course there was news. Among the predictions of gloom and doom there are silver linings when an expert on planet Bollywood reports about the struggle of a star son to purchase a Rs. 50 crore house in Mumbai or how a star daughter did super social service by carrying her own luggage through the airport terminal. Then of course you realise how unthreatening the real world is compared to the world of TV or print news.
Thus, it was a busy and hectic end to a year that started out normal and slowed things down unbelievably in the middle. The narrow and winding by lanes of the year from April to August was full of horror and tragic stories. Lost a couple of relatives and close friends. Some losses would not have been noticed had I not been united with my high school mates after thirty seven years. Labdhapranasam. Got virtually united with a close friend and High School mate – Harikrushna Sahu only to lose him to Covid-19 before a physical meet could materialise.
Now virtual meets with high school mates have become a regular affair. It was one thing that could not be sidelined even in the busy schedules of the last couple of months. Old associations bring back old memories and it makes you feel like your old boyish self, though short lived. It has also brought back the old comraderies and bonhomie.
Ours was the last batch of 11+2+2 system of education in Odisha. (Thus it was a land mark batch, you see). For our last three years in High School, we were clubbed with our junior batch. Our junior batch had twelve formal years of study to get into the same Engineering college that our batch had to study for 13 years to get into. On the other hand, we took four years to become an Arts or Science graduate after high school where as the junior batch took five years.
The point I am trying to make is that taking out or adding one or two years to the school or college education does not make any substantial difference. Maybe the governments all over the world should consider reducing one year from the total number of years it takes to get a graduation degree so that the millennials could go for further higher sturdies earlier to keep up with the specialization needs of the future. The pandemic has anyway taken out one year of proper school/college education from every student.
I have made brief references to my High School in some of my earlier blog posts. It is named after Upendra Bhanja – the emperor among Odia poets. Of course a full post about my time in this illustrious school is in pipeline. Meanwhile I will leave the reader with some visual peeps into the school which is so old that the grandfather of current Chief Minister of Odisha is an alumnus of this school. Established in 1884, it continues to be a prominent government high school of the district. In spite of being so old the school has not seen many changes except for the staff and students. Of course it was a pleasant surprise to learn that it has now opened its doors to girl students.