Friday 11 December 2015

Revisit - School


The gateman straightaway knows me, perhaps
an inspired guess, or plain logic.
A long-time adult, as clock hands clap,
comes to look at an old school building -
who else but a former student? Longing
to touch once again those exposed bricks.

A road that was travelled day after day,
its twists and turns now made strange
by years of separation; staying away
has meant the asking of odd questions.
The poignant stop to ask directions,
face and eyes burn at the first sting of change.

School’s out now, shut for the winter break;
the classrooms and the long corridors
stand empty and dumb, somewhat bleak
without children’s voices raised or hushed;
blackboards wiped, not even chalk dust’s
faint perfume floats on the floors.

Bleakness has come in different forms -
fields squeezed into classrooms blocks,
bars on windows once left free.  Tighter norms.
But the old, benign drinking station?
That’s still smiling at its position,
the spot for much merry laughter and talk.

Stern iron gates stand with their arms crossed,
stop me at the stairs. The breeze whispers once.
They’re out of bounds now, some freedoms lost
to surge down in a mass at the last bell.
The school’s broken up into floors, stairwells,
order’s replaced happy exuberance.

I turn away from the stairs, leave the school
without walking up to my last classroom.
Wistfulness rarely works; as an obvious rule
past memories and the present don’t match.
Futile then to attempt to snatch
peace from change and closed volumes.

And yet being able to once touch those bricks,
to walk corridors that had once known
my faltering steps and childish tricks,
dribbles a stream of peace into the day;
something lifts, perhaps wrapped dismay
after years of constantly being worn.

For school friends who are meeting up in Delhi under those exact exposed brick arches.  Wishing you all a great reunion, happy holidays and a wonderful 2016!


  1. School. Such an imprint on our lives that never leaves us. Returning to the bricks and mortar...bittersweet. I walked with you into your past. I hope it was a happy past.

    Thanks again for letting me guest on your blog, Nila.


    1. Oh, it was the happiest past :-)

      You are most welcome anytime, Denise. Loved your post, and loved having you over. Thank you for guesting!

  2. Bricks and mortar literally, in the case of Modern School, design by Rosemary Eggleston in the '70s when exposed brickwork was a trend.
    Your poem transported me right in time.

    1. I like exposed bricks, and those particular exposed bricks even more, trendy or not! There's something warm and quite undefinably comforting about that colour and texture :-)

      Thanks for reading, Sanjeev, it's beyond wonderful to have a schoolmate visit this space :-)

  3. Simply Awesome, Totally Brilliant, Nilanjana you are a gem.

    1. Yo, Mamta! A gem only reflects what falls on it :-) If I am one, then its glow definitely comes from all of you who have made and still continue to make my world wonderful! Thank you.

  4. Hi Nila - school ... I went back with my Uncle for a visit and to pick up a chair with my name on it - solid oak .. I thought it was worth getting - and he enjoyed a day out. My school was red brick .. but we didn't have arches - the school frontage has stayed the same .. but the school itself has grown hugely and is of high quality.

    Occasionally I see old friends .. but we were boarders .. so dissipated across the world.

    Thinking of this I saw the school with much smaller eyes, when I was a kid it was 'huge' with large grounds ... I wonder what someone at school there, then staying on or coming back soon to teach might have seen.

    Cheers and fun to read your poem ... remembrances - Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, you are so lucky to have such a tangible memento of your school days, wow! It's always fun to go back down memory lane, if the memories are good of course, which it seems they are for both of us. :-)

  5. Long gone are times of earthly realm
    yet in one’s heart the time is new
    Looking back and seeing the old
    tells me how the time has flew


    If I could ago back would I not have
    to face the things I now have to?
    Again will written

    1. Thank you. True, some times always remain new in one's heart...and help us face darker ones with calm and strength.

  6. Such a beautiful poem. It gave me both memories and the feels.