12 Jan

My convocation at Jadavpur University


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convocation When I was not even ten years old my favourite song was ‘Papa kehte hain’ from the film Qayamat se Qayamat tak. In this film which created waves among the youth, this particular song was favourite with many, putting into words the aspirations and dreams, as well as the apprehensions of the youth at the threshold of adulthood and responsibility. Aamir Khan, in his first film, sings the song on the occasion of his graduation party. While it would be so much worthwhile to quote not only the lyrics of the song, but also the preface which always accompanies the song, let me do without it, hoping only that my Indian friends would remember the words. In the next twelve years the world changed much, not only for me, but for everyone else. Thus in 2001, in Dil chahta hai the same Aamir Khan sings in another graduation party – ‘Hum hai naye, andaaz kyon ho purana?’. The total change of lyrics and the vocabulary might symbolise the changed perception, the changed mentality, the changed attitude, the increasing optimism and recklessness, or whatever. And believe me, reams have been written on these two contrasting phenomena. My own graduation ceremony, [excuse me, there was no party!] might draw references from the above quoted contexts.

I always thought that graduation ought to be a milestone in one’s [at least academic] career. It is, I still believe. While there was never any doubt that I would reach this stage, perhaps go even further, I had always expected the reaching of this milestone to be accompanied with some symbolic celebration. The graduation years passed by rather too quickly. The first day at college remains fresh still in our minds. College remains an important place in our lives. The degree would mean so much more in concrete terms, given the present employment scenario in this country. Why is it then that when that very graduation ceremony comes [and most agree that they are doing the present course, or did the last course, only for the degree] they are so callous about it? The day before the ceremony I called a few girls with an enquiry, and from them I came to know that none of them were anywhere near excited about the coming day, none were interested in bringing their parents, and in fact some were not interested in coming altogether! The recurring penchant was ‘What the hell is convocation? We’ve already got our marksheets, and we will get our degrees later on, anyway.’ And true to this early promise, many did not come. ‘Hum hai naye, andaaz kyon ho purana?’

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The day there began early. The long queue for convocation robe [sorry, no caps] of colour saffron which made us seem all of the BJP. The slow arrival of classmates. Then the queue again for the graduation pictures. [Of course many of us had got our own cameras, we were not allowed to take snaps on stage- where we would be given our degrees.] The roaming around the university with friends while in the long wait for our scrolls. The getting together of some mates on the steps of the Open Theatre where the ceremony was held. And at long last the queue for getting the degree. At this point it would be so much apt to comment on an aspect of Department and University life which was so much evident not only prior to the ceremony, but also after it [namely, the lack of bonding among classmates, and the dispersing attitude of clustering among small groups], but that calls for a separate article. Plainly, I was very disappointed that even on this very special day we could not find buddies to take snaps with. Some of us were so much desirous of taking snaps in our Department and classes where we spent the last three years, but unfortunately, we found so few of our classmates. As the ceremony ended, all departed. There was no get-together, no party. And I recalled all those graduation parties in films.

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