Friday, February 28, 2014

PAU: Invisible tendrils still touch and tug at tender nerves in my heart

PAU: Romance and realism over its name: its billion tendrils that tug at my heart...

February 18, 2014 at 2:44am
 Personally, I am for Punjab Agriculture University retaining its present dignified name. The rest of the debate over a possible or a propsoed change in its nomenclature  is therefore of no interest to me. ( The debate appears elsewhere onf Facebook) An old-fahsioned romantic that I am, I was against renaming of the school at which I had studied in my childhood and adolescence -  from Govt Senior Secondary School, Mahilpur, to Sardar Baldev Singh Mahilpuri Memorial Govt Senior Secondary School, Mahilpur. But where the PAU is concerned, my voice would matter a lot less. In a democratic government, every single individual has only one vote. So when i tried to argue in favour of no change in my school's name ,  I was out-voted and overruled ..I had loved the dignified simplicity of my school's old name  - Government Higher Secondary School, as the school had a higher secondary system at hat time.
It mattered little that I had earlier discouraged a move to have the same school re-named after my grandfather who  was the founder of this school and had remained the president of its Management Committee  for 45 years. Had I wanted, I coud so easily have pursuaded the Chief Minister purely on merit to rename the school after my grandfather's name. But I opted for romance rather than for petty presumed family glory.

For the same reason, I have a strong emotional attachment with the present name of the university where I have spent some of the best  and the most productive and creative years of my life. I was 27 when i joined it. What divine fragrance filled the air of the open and beautifully maintained fields, grounds and even roads of the varsity in those days. Plus , the love, the warmth, the incense of pure affection and the romance of being  a teacher to young and beautiful minds for whom love had a meaning as real as their breathing and as real as breeze  caressing  their young and glowing cheeks, and as real as  the fresh dawn of an awakening to a new throbbing sensation of life, a new lighting up of their minds - as real andas beautiful as  fresh glow that filled their souls under every moonlit night that washed the quietly sleeping hostel buildings  ---  even as my beloved children slept and dreamed their beautiful dreams under those roofs. ..Oh, how my heart would leap up in my late night lonely but not lonesome walks around the university grounds, looking at the silent walls of those hostels and other buildings..These walls themselves had a life and minds of their own, as had the nightly spirit of the whole campus that walked by my side as I thought these thoughts.... It was truly like living a dream.

I have come away from the varsity, but its invisible tendrils still reach out to the nerves and veins around my heart, tug at them, asking me to " come over, come back" , as a mother's heart reaches out in painful loneliness to her children who have gone away in search of "greener pastures" - as if  pastures greener than mother's love existed anywhere. The loving but insistent tug of the years I spent at the university is hard to resist.

Every time someone brings that name up, it wakes up a billion half-asleep strings of the violin that lies half-smothered, half-tired and yet always ready to spring to music.

Punjab Agriculture University ! Ah there is something in that name that is  pure as  romance - the name walks like a stunning yet elegant beauty wherever I walk, going wherever its children go. May be, to some the name is too prosaic - what is so romantic about agriculture? Ask a farmer's son. he will tell you. Or ask me. May be,  to some others it is too precise and too scientific and therefore appropriate but un-romantic.

It is all that - and more. When I rejected the thought of Dr Borlaugh as a prefix for PAU, i was not driven by any high sounding patriotic considerations, nor did the confident nationalist in me fear the coat-tails of a scientist just because he had a different colour or different nationality from mine. These might be very proud or holy considerations for some. And I respect that.

But for me - no, i did not even need to reach the point of such high voltage nationalism. To me, the pure child-like innocence of those over-simplistic, sentimental and plain things like human love and romance of my affair with my children and the way they touched my heart with their gentle, young finger-tips -- these are enough to make me want to keep the name of my mother as I first heard it when I opened my ears to this world.

I have never stopped calling my school at Mahilpur simply as Govt Higher Secndary School . And i will not stop calling my mother institution at Ludhiana by its maiden name - Punjab Agriculture University , even if for some reason my own government -- or the government of which I am a part - decides to change it .I have always been a beloved and loving and therefore a spoilt child  of my mother. Like all spoiled children, i will dig my heels in, cry myself hoarse, shout, shriek or do whatever it takes to have my way with on my  mothers name. But even if I fail, I will not stop calling my mother by the name with which she first told me why she belonged to me.

Others can have their politics over it - in favour or against the government. They are welcome to it. Mine is a different problem, and a different dream. I will continue to live it.

NOTE: and no name is being changed , either!. It is only about a suggestion from someone to that effect !! The piece , at a close look, is about the extreme and painful difficulty of being asked to conform to the withdrawal of things whose presence in our lives we are as used to as we are to the presence of indulgent mothers. A very cruel ask indeed. But life can indeed take some precious things away from us; but nothing - nothing - can - force us to accept their replacement with something else.

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