Memories can be miracles. They can bring about transformations within us. My recent visit to Kerala was for a reunion of some friends who studied together from 1976 to 1978. Meeting again 36 years later is a momentous experience. The boys had become men. The men are now involved in a wide variety of professions, ranging from today’s most popular profession of converting people from their religions to the least preferred job of fighting for justice. There were jewellers and chartered accountants in between. And a schoolteacher like me. Quite a few priests too. The spouses and children of those who were not priests added a unique charm to the gathering.
People had cancelled or rescheduled important assignments just to make it to this gathering. A few travelled all the way from as far away as the USA only for this occasion. A few had spent a lot of time and money making the necessary arrangements.
I loved it. What a meet it was! So many people from such a wide diversity of occupations and outlooks. And yet we all found it delightful. An unforgettable experience that lasted almost the whole day.
As I, along with my wife, got a free lift all the way to my home (55 km from Ernakulam where the meet took place) after the gathering (thanks to an alumnus who was travelling to the same place), a thought kept springing in my mind. If such a wide variety of people can be reunited so joyfully merely because of the fact that some of them had studied together in their adolescence, why can’t India be just one country living happily together in spite of all the variety?
Why should India be a people of one religion?
Yes, interestingly, there was one alumnus of ours who boasted about his successful religious conversions. I found him rather comical. Not villainous, thank heavens. But do we need such conversions in order to live together as one nation? Not at all. We, the alumni decided to meet again after four years in spite of all the variety in our outlooks and professions. We found meaning in the reunion. We found meaning in the love that we could rediscover. In spite of all the differences in our careers, attitudes, outlooks...
Can’t India find such meaning? I’m wondering still, a week after the meet.