‘The brightest day follows the darkest night’
The last two years had taken many things from us but the fact that we could still have this fleeting moment of triumph was worth appreciating, writes Adheesh Ghosh
There are just a few things that can justify getting dressed up in formal suits, dresses and saris to make a long journey under the sweltering sun, through the dusty highways of Haryana, to a place that is far from home for most of us. Seeing as how, on the 11th of June, hundreds of us did just that, I think it’s safe to say that the Convocation ceremony at Ashoka University is one of those things.
It was a bittersweet feeling, entering those gates between the red brick walls, knowing full well that once we left that evening, we wouldn’t ever return as undergraduate students. So, even as we donned our mortarboards and gowns, illuminated by the beaming smiles of the loved ones accompanying us, both feelings of jubilation and trepidation took their seats in our hearts.
Speaking of taking seats, the chaos as we assembled for our batch photograph was one to behold, both for the awe of seeing such a large number of our batch together and the palpable excitement in the air for when we would finally toss our hats up high.
It was oddly fitting that the ceremony took place in the multi-purpose hall of the sports complex. Years ago, this was where we had one of the first orientation sessions of our college life. So, it was only proper to see us off at the same place. Even as we changed and evolved from the fresh-faced young undergraduates we were that day to the experienced graduating seniors had become, some things really did remain the same.
Waiting in line alphabetically was an experience I hadn’t been through since my school days. It felt oddly nostalgic to find myself phonetically shuffled into a moving queue. I saw many kinds of people around me that day; people I was close to, people I knew and people I knew of, and even people I’d never interacted with before. Altogether, they were people part of my collective experience of graduating, and I was proud to share the occasion with some of the best, brightest and most accomplished individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing.
Professor Kelvin Everest’s convocation address struck a chord with me. When he spoke of the journey across India he had once undertaken that led him to his association with Ashoka today, I couldn’t help but reflect on the journey that I, alongside so many of my peers, had come on over the past three years.
Through sunshine and storms and thick and thin, we persevered on an odyssey that spanned both the real world and the digital one we took refuge in for the better part of two years. But truly, the brightest day follows the darkest night, and the very fact that we could all assemble in that hall in celebration of our achievements put a spring in my step and a smile on my face.
As someone who suffers from anxiety, the idea of going up on stage without any rehearsal or training can sometimes be daunting and scary. Oddly enough, on the day of the convocation I felt none of that. Cheering on those who came before me played a part in that, my hands were too busy clapping to tremble and my mouth too busy smiling to grimace. The applause and the cheering as each student was called on stage to receive their degree deafened any murmurs of hesitation or nervousness within me. And after my turn was done, I came right back to my seat to clap my hands red and raw, just to show each of my batchmates the well-deserved appreciation that was long overdue.
The last two years had taken many things from us but the fact that we could still have this fleeting moment of triumph was something worth appreciating indeed.
As all good things must come to an end, so did our convocation ceremony. We filtered out of the sports complex as a writhing sea of humanity; hugging, crying, laughing and congratulating. We had entered that very building as freshers not knowing the path that lay ahead of us, yet we exited it as confident and accomplished adults, looking far beyond the horizon on which the sun was setting right before us.
Finally, it was time for high tea, for others, it was high time to leave before the traffic outside got worse. Although the day began with reunions, farewells were soon to follow. Some of us would be coming back to the campus soon, others would not. As I walked out of the campus from between the gates that had now become a familiar part of my life, I pondered the lines of dialogue made immortal by the late Irrfan Khan: “I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”
I held my hand out and I waved.
(Adheesh Ghosh graduated from Ashoka University this year)