When young Sujith Vasudev was plucked from his familiar Angadipuram village in Malappuram and replanted in the big city of Thiruvananthapuram, he didn’t feel completely out of place.
“This was because of the environment the school created,” said Vasudev, who won the state film award for best cinematographer this year for his work in ‘Ayaal’ and ‘Memories’. “Ours was a sprawling compound with lots of trees to climb and it was similar to what we had at home.”
Vasudev was speaking on Sunday at a function held in his alma mater, the Government Central High School, Attakulangara, of which he was a student in the mid-1980s.
The 125-year-old school has been in the news in recent times after a portion of its land was handed over to Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) for the construction of a bus bay and shopping complex.
“The memories and stories I have about my schooldays here are countless,” said Vasudev, whose father, Kathakali ‘chenda’ maestro Sadanam Vasudevan, also taught at the school.
“The concept of student politics too used to be very healthy here,” he said. “Politics would be thoroughly discussed and explained, and teachers would bring all factions of students together to do so.”
Lamenting the imminent threat to the school compound’s ecosystem, he said: “In developed countries, governments are spending huge amounts of money to create and preserve green spaces, but here we are doing all we can to destroy them.”
His former teachers Ambika Kumari and Santhakumari T K, who were present at the function, also shared their fond memories of the school in its hey-day. “We had a garden here which we maintained better than even the ones we had in our homes,” said Ambika Kumari, who taught at the school for 22 years before being transferred to another school.
No traces of this garden remains, she said, adding that the school has been reduced to its present pathetic condition due to sheer neglect from the government.
“I worked at this school from 1983 to 1995 and during that time class 10 alone had 11 divisions,” said Santhakumari. “But now less than 50 students in total remain.”
The function on Sunday was an exhibition of paintings, drawn by schoolchildren as part of a competition organised at the school on April 22 - Earth Day - by Tree Walk and the school’s Samrakshana Samithi. The winners of the competition were felicitated by Kanayi Kunhiraman.