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The Reunion

I just came from the General Homecoming of the alumni association, hosted this year by the High School Class of 1985. As was to be expected, attendance was not as big as the organizers would have wanted. I mean, up until earlier this month, I did not know that Monday instead of today was going to be the holiday. That is a real pity because the reason the homecoming was permanently set on the 30th of December was that this had always been – until this year – a national holiday.

This is no more than a momentary inconvenience, though, because the current government will restore the December 30 holiday next year. Why it has to wait for 2011, I do not have the foggiest idea. I just feel sorry for the organizing class of 1985, who I am sure poured so much effort into the hosting of the reunion.

Having said this, I left when the night was still young and who knows how many hundreds will suddenly turn up later tonight. I guess we will all find out.

Because I had a guest earlier in the afternoon, I arrived at the venue a little later than I usually do for these homecomings. The master of ceremonies, when their former teachers were being called up to the stage, made the extraordinary claim that I was attending the homecoming for the first time. Of course, I made it a point to tell them as I passed on my way to the stage that that piece of trivia was, in fact erroneous.

But for the homecoming that was hosted by the Class of 1983 two years ago – when I was down ‘flu-ish – I have always, as a matter of fact, made it a point to look in on the proceedings each and every year. Of course, I do not linger. All you alumni and alumnae who may happen to read this will all have to forgive me if I do not get excited about going to the homecomings as the rest of you.

There is just this little matter of my having been affiliated with the school since – do not wince – 1969. That was when I first came to the school as a Grade 5 student. So there! While I do attend the homecomings, I seldom linger long enough to be noticed.

I suppose the reason I got noticed today was because I arrived just as the program was about to start. There was a short tribute to us – the former teachers – and it felt really good to be standing next to the very same people I shared anecdotes and laughs with when I was a very young teacher more than two decades ago.

Some of the old-timers present, of course, were even my own teachers when I was in elementary and high school. I caught up with them when I returned to teach. The masters of ceremonies kept saying that they had not aged at all since they – the former students – graduated from high school.

That is not necessarily true because those who used to be my teachers and – later – my co-teachers do not look like spring chickens anymore. On the other hand, considering that they even used to be my very own teachers means that the statement was also not untrue; although they have aged in terms of their appearance, they have done so at a much slower rate than many people I know.

Time, it appears, is kind to teachers. Of course, some of my own contemporaries among the lot do not look a day old from when this class of students left the school in 1985!

Members of the host class all went up the stage to shake hands with us – some even went so far as to give us hugs. That was heartwarming! Not all things that go on within the confines of a classroom are of the sort one will always place under the “memorable” category. Time, indeed, is the greatest healer of all. Twenty-five years later, we can all laugh about the things that used to drive us – both teachers and students – crazy.

Of course, when our former students came to stand before us one at a time, I could only recognize but a few of them. It was a bit embarrassing for me, particularly as I used to call all of my students by their first names. Yet, I really had no recourse but to ask for names.

I was careful to point out that it was not so much remembering that was the problem – although in some cases, it certainly was – it was really more recognizing. Many of these students I had not seen after they left the school. Inevitably, the faces etched inside my head are those of skinny high school students.

They do put on weight afterwards, don’t they? Or lose hair… In the case of women, they learn to put on make up and change their hairstyles. It is never easy for us! Albeit, in some cases, I take one look and I immediately remember not only the student but even the first name. I really do not know how memory works and I am not about to worry about it.

Well, there you are… I stayed only for a while – I would have stayed longer if I did not have a prior commitment – but I definitely enjoyed myself. It is not easy to come face to face with people who come from a past that adds up to all of twenty-five years. Having difficulty facing up to one’s own age, that is just a human foible.

Yet, when I see how successful many of them have become, don’t I just feel so bleeding proud of myself and those I worked with!

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