I’m returning to Norbuling MSS, ah, the school I’ve started my schooling. I studied at this school from Class 3-6. After completing my high school, a degree certificate in hand and now a dzung wokpa, I’m visiting this school after 14 years.
It’s a two-hour walk from Gelephu, and today this school (established in 1961) stands feverishly beautiful, silent. It’s on winter vacation, oh. And it still illuminates in its old glorious architecture, in its persistence grace. The saplings we had planted, then, during the national forestry days have grown into admirably handsome trees. And the areca-nut plants, around the academic building, have already started fruiting. Everything else is same-still wooden tools (with a hole in the middle) and blackboards are being used in the classrooms.
This is the school I’ve memories from when I was kid. To me, this visit is like turning the clock back. I’ll tell you, I got admission in this school not because of my age, not by my height, not by my background or connection, not by my smartness. But we had to pass the only admission rule (let’s say admission criteria). That was, ahem, my right hand over the head must touch my left ear. I could do that. WOW. And I got admitted in the school.
A hodgepodge of images as a childhood and as an adolescent has flooded into my mind. Let me tell you, the huge pouch of my school uniform, especially backside, would be always tattered. Teachers and my parents used to blame it for my carelessness, unruliness. But, um, I had blamed it for my plate (aluminum) and camel geometry box. And this is even funnier-you’d never find pencils, erasers or scales in my geometry box. Guess what, you’d only find marbles in it. Ha-ha. No matter what, this was the time (when I was in Class PP) I had a deadly crush on a beautiful girl from Class 6. It does happen, even at so young age, ha-ha.
As I march around the school, all the old instincts come rushing again. I romp around and jump in excitement like a school kid. Then, I stop abruptly. I stand in front of the assembly ground, the spot, where I had delivered my morning speeches, my limbs shivering. Forest. Punctuality. Water. Driglam Namzhag. Aro garo. More excitingly, I reminisce about the day when I had received my life’s first prize in the inter-school art competition from the, then, Sarpang Dzongda.
I walk in a classroom, Class 3 and is greeted by a vivid memory. My class teacher was an old Dzongkha lopoen. Before he’d start his session, he used to push Nu 2 note in my hand and asked me to buy him doma from the nearby shop. And I used to dart off, scooting, brrrrrr, my hands positioning as if on clause and escalator and my legs on break. The lopoen would start his session only after I scooted back with a packet of doma.
All this memories come back, new and fresh. Not just as thoughts, but as rich and meaningful good olden times. And I sit under a barren tree, right in front of the school, taking photographs. The sun is setting, turning into red, then into pink. Under the tree, under the beautiful sunset, I bask in a delicious nostalgia. And how I wish this time would stay still. It doesn’t. But, oh, the images of memories do stay still, at least. In our imagination. In our thoughts. In our mind.