CHENNAI: An energetic 65-year-old man stands up and draws up a problem involving equal sides of similar triangle and parallelograms, raking up memories of Class 10 mathematics textbooks. His pals, 20 of them, and their spouses, seated inside a classroom on the first floor of the Don Bosco School in Egmore, have a hearty laugh. “We couldn’t solve it then, how do you expect it us to do it now,” asks another elderly man, leading to a few more guffaws.
The window sills were dripping wet with the overnight rain, while inside the classroom it was a nostalgic moment, as a group of 25 Don Bosco alumni, who passed out from the school in the summer of 1965, gathered to remember 50 years of their passing out.
To mark the occasion, they even took part in the morning assembly along with the current students.
“We are probably the only pass-outs who have gotten together every year after we passed out. We joined school as friends, met as bachelors and later as married men, and are now meeting as parents of children who also studied together in this school,” said the Iqbal Haji Abdul Karim (65), who runs a boutique store in Vepery. The first re-union of this group, Iqbal says, was at the Ashoka Hotel in 1966.
Iqbal is ribbed for being the class monitor, but the centre of attraction is 87-year-old Selvadurai, a frail old man who taught this batch English, Geography and History.
“He would make us go to the Connemara library and read a lot of books,” reminisces Leela Ram, a retired consultant.
“Whenever my flight passes the Mediterranean sea, I’m reminded of sir’s geography lessons,” says K Shankar, a mechanical engineer, with a smile. Part of the fourth batch of the school, the group remembered how Chennai was a simple Madras at that time with less traffic and a not-so- stinking Cooum.
“There were just 300 students at that time in the school. The principal used to remember every one of us and even our grades. The teaching too was very personalised because of the bonding,” recalls Arun Thambuswamy, a cricketer during his days in Don Bosco.
An hour later, another frail, yet energetic elderly person walked in and the group immediately stood up. It was Ramachandran, their maths teacher, whose memory was as sharp as ever, which he demonstrated by enquiring about the family members of a few of his students.
Pointing towards the board, one of his students asks, “Sir, will you solve that math problem,” and the group again breaks into laughter.