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Saying adieu never seemed so bad!

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By: ABID WACHKOO           

We can’t start the next chapter of our life if we keep on reading the last one. On the evening of my University graduation it hit me—the familiar faces and places I’d grown so accustomed to, over the last four years, would soon be changing. The anxiety of that reality had started to creep into my psyche weeks ago, when I was being fitted for my cap and gown. Standing there looking in the mirror, I remember thinking to myself, “How did I get here?”Somehow I had gone from an eighteen-year-old school boy to a twenty three-year-old mature man, and I wasn’t quite sure were my youth had gone. Sitting at the ceremony, one thought continued to occupy my mind. I knew that at the conclusion of our graduation party, early the next morning, I would be closing a chapter in my life—one filled with exploration, development, struggles, and growth.

For so many of my fellow classmates, we had been together since kindergarten. We journeyed together, watching each other grow through the innocence of childhood, to the prejudices that develop as young adults. We went from adorable five year olds to the times of puberty and the struggles to live up to societal stereotypes. In a way they were like family—comfortable like an old sweater; grounding me when I needed a reminder that I belonged to something greater than myself. It was a bittersweet moment in my life. While I understood that life didn’t end after graduation, and opportunities were certainly before me, it also meant leaving the safety and security I’d come to rely on over the last four years. As I tossed my cap high into the air I realized it would soon be time to say goodbye.

When my mom called me that summer morning, she had gifted me a photo album she had been compiling since my early childhood. A photo album dedicated to my life, featuring photographs, recital programs, and other mementos she religiously collected and safely stored behind a clear sheet of plastic film. Though there was an atmosphere of joy and excitement, yet it was tinged with an air of melancholy and sadness. All out-going students were in their best dresses. This was the first time in the span of twenty three years that I was not any sort of uniform. Though sad, but feeling great, we all occupied our seats and the function started.

In the beginning, there was the ceremony of lighting the lamp which was inaugurated by the officials of our University. This was followed by the students of the 1st semester lighting their candles from the big lamp. Then came the students of the 3rd semester class hosting the party in our honor. It included mouth­watering, tasty dishes and drinks. After the party, programmes of entertainment were put up for our amusement and recreation by the hosting party. There were the items of balloon- breaking with a foot, eating buns hanging down a string, musical chair, and mimicry as well as conferring the titles on all. I was the Einstein of the department more for my hair than my passion for physics.  Some of them sang folk songs and danced a rig. Finally, we were asked to take over the charge of the stage and present our items.

While our programmes were going on, dainty dishes, containing potato chips, pastry, samosas and rasgullas were served to all those who were present. Along with these delicacies, coffee was also served. Some of the students had left the merry-making to collect autographs of their beloved teachers. The teachers delivered speeches in English .They all advised us to keep up the name and prestige of the University and told us that we should never forget our alma mater and her great ideals. Finally, they all wished for future.

Then came the time to greet my friends and classmates good bye for one final time. I was taking my scrap book to all my friends requesting them to write a few lines. All of us were busy greeting and wishing each other. Cameras were continuously flashing and it seemed we would have clicked every moment, if only it were possible!

Then we started putting our autographs on each other's uniforms for the last time. I still have my uniform with all my friends' comments and signatures on it. We then hugged each other with a loud uproar for the last and final time along the collage corridors and stepped out of the portals so dear. It was a mix of feelings for all as we would laugh and smile and have tearful eyes too. It was the last chapter of the glorious book of my student life. It was a golden period of my life that had passed away like a happy dream. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.

The writer is a Civil Engineer & can be reached at naseemabidyaqoob@gmail.com

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