by Shashika Bandara
I am writing this piece in appreciation of the event held on 14th June 2014 – reunion of 2005 class of Kingswood College; for a great job done by the organizers – for great memories provided by all that who attended. I also would like to pay homage to Deminthe Dahanayake’s father who suddenly passed away on the 16th of June, in the hope that bright memories prevail over the grief felt.
“Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal” — William Penn; Some Fruits of Solitude
Nostalgia: Definition — “A feeling of sadness mixed with pleasure and affection when you think of happy times in the past” – Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary.
Ten Years or more: I had memories suspended silently somewhere in my frontal lobe as I travelled, learned some and un-learned some in both academia and life. I grew cells on dishes, cut snippets of mice tails, learned some arts, swam in unknown lakes and met some wonderful people. Yet, on the eve of 14th of June 2014, as I met one childhood friend after the other something snapped – broke that silent suspension of memories – and crashed the flood gates.
Memory of a fight, a joke, a teacher being teased slowly revved up the cerebral engines. Sometimes it is not so much the joke itself, but the forgotten narrating style of a friend that brought joy – an art of stand-up comedy practiced in classrooms of growing teenagers; only hold meaning to those who were present – like a ghost key.
A myriad of professions, weight classes, marriage statuses and some protruding bellies told the stories of years apart. All of us remained changed, yet, somewhat unchanged.Inside the classrooms we were all clad in uniforms that marked our growth, going from blue shorts and white shirts to all whites. Inside the event hall we all stood clad in a mixture of clothing attire; yet, all of us wearing our virtual uniforms. Conversation was candid, heartfelt and overwhelmingly nostalgic. Perhaps this means more to me because it proves a notion about Kingswood that I have carried for years: that many of us once through that gate become Gentlemen of Kingswood and nothing more – nothing less. Despite our varied characteristics we hold this notion with pride and faith. Which in fact is the notion Kingswood College was founded upon: to provide an opportunity of quality education and camaraderie without the segregation of social classes. We were not patrons of the neo-colonial plantation elite, nor did we pay homage to the Buddhist elite; foundations on which two other main schools of Kandy were founded upon. We were just students of equality. Then we were Gentlemen of Kingswood.In a time where equality is trampled and toyed with in our nation, it brings a sense of relief alongside a hint of pride to see Kingswoodians carry these values.
It was far too idealistic to expect people to remain so. It was also very real that they did. It was one of the greatest pleasant surprises I have had in years. For me, the moment of the silence bell –a trinity of rings marked with resounding pauses succumbing over 4000 students into silence – the only one of its kind in the school culture of Sri Lanka – signifies a moment that stands clear and still in my memory of school life; signifying the weight of traditions that exist beyond that silvery gate with the winged sun looking down upon you.
For me that evening was full of echoes of that bell. Of friends that remain within. Thank you all for coming out.
Fide-Et-Virtute – By Fidelity and Valour.