~~ Being Amongst The Cottonians !! ~~
The other day I was casually invited by an enterprising Cottonian to the much-awaited Sesqui-centennial celebrations of Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. Before he could reconsider, I excitedly grabbed the opportunity and geared myself to be part of these renowned alumni.
And there I was, in complete jubilation, taking in the Cottonian spirit as the evening unfolded. It was humid at the Lake Club Chandigarh, on the eve of 1st Oct 2009, but the refreshing spirits of the Cottonians gave way to a pleasant, starry musical night. Some came across oceans, old and bent with walking sticks, while others poured in, majestically, like the eagle, to sweep away the nostalgic memories of the dorms, the chapel, the edibles on the sly and so much more.
Though I was just a guest, each Cottonian I met made me feel so much at home. As the old boys poured in from far way destinations, I could feel the urge within each of them to return home to their foundation years! Hugging each other, pats on the backs, not to miss some smirking as well, brought back the all-knowing smiles on their faces. Each seemed to know each other’s well kept secrets, pet peeves and catchy names which emerged, gradually, as each drink went down !!
My chivalrous Cottonian friend handed me a drink, rather apologetically, before he vanished amongst his buddies who were dying to unfold their yesteryears!! Watching them being naughty lads, ignoring their grey hairs, potbellies and their better halves, I was truly amazed to see how time seemed to stop for the Cottonians.
After exchanging their well guarded, yet mischievous pleasantries, the old school boys of BCS, united under the stars and gracefully sang their school song. For all those supportive wives and many un-Cottonians like me, a screen displayed the lyrics of the song, ensuring the chorus better include the ladies’ melodious voices as well!!! We chorused together “we sing of days now past and gone, we sing of days to be’, and am sure the late founders, Lords Lefroy, Curzon, Ibbetson and Rivaz must have stirred in their deep, mortal slumber, yearning to join us!!
As I grasped each view of the evening, the most touching were the undaunted spirits of the oldies on the floor. Swaying energetically to the mesmerizing music of the Rodrigues Band, the elderly couples were lost in the foot tapping music, oblivious to the world. Inspired by the tireless spirits of their seniors, the youngsters attacked the floor, spilling their drinks while shaking a leg. The temptation was too good to refuse so there I was on the floor too, dancing into the wee hours of a memorable night.
As time ticked and I quietly slipped away from the celebrations, not wanting to disturb my frenzied chaperone, I could feel the Cottonian spirit seeping in my heart as I hummed the school song on my way home.
They say once a Cottonian always a Cottonian... I say once you attend a Cottonian gathering, their vibrant spirit makes you one of them, forever!! Ask me!!