I have been looking forward to this reunion for a few weeks now. I had missed all previous reunions for one reason or another, but this one I was determined to attend, keeping my fingers crossed that nothing happens at the last minute to derail my plans. The hype and enthusiasm of the organisers who were the driving force behind this effort were quite infectious and I found myself carried away by eagerness into a simmering excitement and anticipation.
A few days before the date of the reunion I came across a post on Facebook where they started mentioning the names of all the alumni who have passed away. That put a real damper on the festive spirit and added anxiety to my anticipation. Not only had I lost three of my classmates, but worse still and what really hurt was having to rake up the loss of my nephew who had been an alumni as well. I understood that the organisers wanted to pay tribute to those who had passed, but in my case at least, that was very painful indeed. So instead of looking forward to this reunion with unadulterated enthusiasm, my anticipation was tinged with pain and anxiety. Still, my mind was made up and I would go and face whatever had to be faced.
The day dawned with very strange weather, an unusually overcast sky, a close, still feeling, rather warm but with sudden gusts of coolish wind. A dichotomy that was carried right throughout the day, not just in the weather.
Having arranged with a few of my classmates with whom I was still in touch to meet at the venue at noon, I felt a bit better knowing I would not be sitting alone waiting for someone I know. My class was one of the oldest to graduate, while the school was still in its infancy. The tradition of taking school pictures of the full class with the class teacher had not been set yet, so naturally there were no class pictures of my class.
When I got to the garden where the reunion was held, the atmosphere was one of excellent organisation with one of the driving forces standing there at the gate to greet the arrivals and facilitate their entrance, acquisition of their name tag and their school pin.
The garden where the reunion was held is a very old garden in the middle of a high scale residential area with a lot of high risers. This little jewel of jade was a breath of fresh air in a concrete jungle. It used to be an aquarium, but it had become so run down a few years ago it lost all its fish, yet the grotto was still there and so was the pond. It is now being revived and such functions as our school reunion are helping in bringing it back.
The reunion was sponsored by a few businesses and some tables were laid out with wares on the sides of the passages leading to the tables waiting for the alumni. There were also stands to serve drinks and snacks for the expected hordes. Considering that the school had been in operation since the late forties of the previous century, then classes have been graduating since the late fifties. This makes for at least 55 classes of graduates.
There was a stage set up and karaoke was on the program. When I asked the organiser about what they had in mind as a tribute to those who had departed she told me that a film had been compiled, but that they were having some technical problems and might not be able to show it. That was such a relief, I don’t think I hid it very well. But she promised to send it to me electronically. That was quite all right as it won’t be spoiling my enjoyment of the day.
My first friend arrived shortly thereafter and we started wandering around, trying to find a table that was in the shade and had a bit of a breeze. Though the sky was still overcast yet if the sun came out it would be a scorcher if not in the shade. We settled on a table in the middle overlooking the pond.
Two hours later the party was in full swing. The music was blaring. Screams could be heard everywhere when old classmates met after a long time. English was spoken everywhere. Whether you were an old generation or a new one, the spirit was the same. Friendly, courteous, enthusiastic and very happy to be there.
One of my classmates was there with her husband who is a professor at the American University. He met more people, ex students, than any of us as alumni met at our own school reunion. Being seated at a centrally placed table made it easy to see practically everyone milling around.
My classmates and I felt the distinction of being the oldest graduates attending and the jokes among ourselves started about the age difference and how that all those milling around us were kids. On each tag was written the name and year of graduation. We wore ours with pride, and just a bit of grim satisfaction in putting all those “kids” in their place. One young lady said that no, ours was not the oldest class, her mother had graduated a year before us. When we asked if she was present, she replied no, she was dead. I guess that says it all!
On this note we started taking our leave after hooking up with just five of our classmates but with the determination to track down some more and set up a class reunion just for our class, and as soon as possible to ensure a fair showing of those still alive.
A lovely day, full or contrasts, a pendulum of emotions, yet one that I would not have missed for anything.
13 March 2016