Saturday, August 27, 2011

Euphoric Nostalgia of My Alma Mater

As the alma mater of my two elder brothers, Jakar High School welcomed me with a homely reception. The sense of my immediate intimate connection with the school and the surrounds was palpable. The school simply had this unique aura which made me feel home right away. Although signs of changes were obvious everywhere, yet some features were intact which I could spot from the photo memoirs of my brothers.

When I packed my bedding and took a cab to Jakar from Chumey, I had this peculiar feeling inside; a feeling which can only be felt and cannot be expressed. As a young kid I grew up watching my mother bade good bye to my two elder brothers and my father who would pack up their bedding on a pony and make the trip over the ridges to the school. My father knew the shortcut through the jungles to the school like the back of his hand so it helped him save a good amount of time from his busy farming schedules. As far as memories could go, I recall my father returning home sometime in the evening with a pine needle between his lips and a golden eagle feather tucked neatly through his woolen hat. He would give it to me as his present and sometimes I would get a pheasant’s feather.

The first time I visited the school was in 1999, when I represented the then Chumey Junior High School in an intra-dzongkhag literary competition. Years later, the changes were apparent. Old buildings had gone and new ones had taken their places. The school had become a wonderful learning institution in a beautiful environment. The lush green grasses, apple orchards, Pine Hills and cypress trees all intensified the beauty of the already picturesque surrounding. I fondly recollect the lighthearted moments spent with friends in the canteen, on the playing field and among the apple trees. When exams would knock our doors, we would playfully climb up on the apple trees behind our dormitory with our books and would relish fruits. When we returned, we wouldn’t have opened our books!  That was how our days would end every day.

One thing we would always look forward to was the weekends. Weekends were the best time to hitch a ride home and relish dearly-missed, delicious, home-cooked meals.  Sometimes we would be forced to return to our dorms after several hours of wait in the town. Cabs would come aplenty but we would never have fares. The fares would be long gone at Aum Durpa’s canteen which we would frequent very often to remedy our hunger pangs.

During two years of my study at the school, I had the privilege to interact and learn from a host of teachers. Some of them had been in the school for the last several years. They were the builders, in fact the nuts and bolts of the school. They kept the engine running and I was glad to be a happy passenger. At the end of my two-year journey I had more than I could ask for and more than I could carry. My intellectual load was in excess of what I had initially anticipated. I had made the best bargain.

Fifty years on and the school continues to serve the nation to its hilt. Jakar alumni are serving the nation in various disciplines. Annually hundreds of students come in crude and go out refined. Teachers—the unsung heroes—impart knowledge selflessly. Today as I congratulate and wish happiness on its fifteeth birthday, I salute each one of my teachers. Wishing Jakar Higher Secondary School success in every endeavour it undertakes to do. TASHI DELEK

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