MANGALURU: When Captain MV Pranjal got married two years ago in Bengaluru, his school teachers with whom he shared a close bond, could not physically attend the wedding because of the Covid-19 pandemic situation. But they made it a point to witness his nuptials virtually. What’s more striking is that the teachers were all decked up in Kanjeevaram silk sarees although they were not attending the event in person. When asked about it, Kripa Sanjeev, vice-principal, Delhi Public School MRPL Mangalore, quipped: “That is how we attend our child’s wedding.”
MV Pranjal, a tall man, was the son of one of the top-ranking officials (MV Venkatesh who retired as MD) of the Mangalore Refinery Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL). Those who knew him said he stood out because of his down-to-earth attitude.
He did his schooling in DPS MRPL, Suratkal, and PU from Mahesh PU College, Mangaluru, before moving to the National Defense Academy (NDA) to pursue his career in defense, his childhood dream.
When the news of Pranjal's demise in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri arrived on Wednesday, DPS MRPL was preparing for their two-day annual sports meet which was scheduled to begin Thursday. The sports meet was then postponed and a holiday was declared to mourn Pranjal.
Pranjal's Chemistry and Scout's teacher Venkat Rao PG, and Physics teacher Suma Devi attended his funeral in Bengaluru as did many other alumni of the school.
Devastated over Pranjal's death, many teachers with whom this reporter tried to talk were unable to come to terms with it.
“November 22 is the darkest day for us. Great loss of our school,” lamented Kripa Sanjeev, who taught Pranjal Biology.
Pranjal shared a close bond with his school even after a decade since he passed out. He used to send personal messages to teachers on festivals and birthdays, and even visited the school during his holidays and even after his parents moved to Bengaluru. He used to speak to everyone there including the house-keeping staff.
Kripa Sajeev remembers Pranjal as a mature, studious, and empathetic person. “His stature was more than our imagination. He was six feet plus (height) but his values were beyond. He was every teacher’s perfect student,” she reminisced.
Brilliant in studies as well as extracurricular activities, Pranjal was also a Scout and had participated in one of the Republic Day parades in New Delhi. Teachers remember that he loved to conduct experiments and used to participate in CBSE regional-level science exhibitions. As an alumnus, he also used to motivate and mentor several students at his school. Once when he was invited as the chief guest for the school's Christmas celebrations, he had shared his experiences in the Army.
Anil Mascarenhas, who had taught him Physics for two years at Mahesh PU College, said that Pranjal was a disciplined, hard-working, and intelligent student who was always eager to clear doubts. He was goal-oriented from the very first day and physics was his favourite subject, he said, adding that the soldier had also been very interested in solving numericals.
In June this year, Captain MV Pranjal had visited his school. Little did anyone know it would be his final visit to his favourite place. He apparently had told some of his teachers then that he would not be visiting the school in the near future. Many of his teachers were unaware that he was posted in the vulnerable Jammu and Kashmir region. “He never disclosed where he was posted,” said Kripa Sajeev
Sheela Balamurali, Principal, DPS MRPL, who has been with the institution for three years, remembers Pranjal as an amiable person from her interaction with him. “The teaching and non-teaching staff are upset over the big loss. I could feel what they might be going through as my father, uncle, and another relative were in the Air Force. On one hand, the school feels proud of such a great man as our alumnus, but on the other, we feel a big loss. He was too young," she rued.