At 6.30 pm, a stately alert 93 year old retired teacher (in this case my mother in law, the picture is above is not hers) dressed up primly for a scheduled WhatsApp Video call with a 50 year old man. He was a student of hers, 43 years ago in Class I, in De Nobili School, Dhanbad.
For me, eavesdropping on the call (my excuse being to ensure the Whatsapp call was well positioned for right camera angle, and any untoward snag), I listened in rapt attention and with joy on the beautiful conversation that ensured.
With both trying to make sense of a face(s) that had significantly changed unrecognisably, each continued to lie politely that they recognised each other, and how they had both changed. She told him she remembered him having a ‘baby face’ and how naughty he was and what a delight it was to teach him. He on the other hand insisted he was her ‘favourite’ student and how he has still retained all her report cards and especially the remarks she made of him. She nodded in agreement, hopelessly trying to remember, but her mind would not allow for her to connect, all the specifics he mentioned.
I felt a gulp in my throat. My mind flashed back to our batch meeting Father McGrath, a beloved teacher of mine on our 25th Anniversary on passing out from XLRI. He was old, frail, gaunt and obviously losing his memory. Each one of us shared our ‘special stories’ and our special moments: “Do you remember, Father, that xxxx when you and I….” and Father smiled sportingly and said, “How can I forget you”. Tears came to my eyes. There was no way he could remember, but at that moment, he needed to collude with the lie, to share that he membered, to let each of us know, we were Special, very uniquely special to him. I know Jesus would have understood and would have forgiven him!
Back to the present…. The conversation went almost everywhere, to teachers, the school, the rich moments, and at times the conversation ran in parallel lines – she was at one end with her reverie, drifting from one snatch of a memory to another, and he on another track, toggling between how he was inspired by her and the values he learnt which stood him to good stead in all his years later. For a moment, I could see, she was delving into her past, and he into his. Two films playing simultaneously, with multiple cross points and interface.
Later, on the call, she was introduced to his family, who crowded around the camera on one end , and we joined later at our end. Generations and time collapsed in that moment. What struck me was the words or topics did not matter: what stayed was two hearts connecting! But words were many and they tumbled non-stop in the 45 minutes conversation. I will leave the narrative here….I could go on. There was a post call conversation as well, but I will not go there.
So here’s the question for you dear reader: who is the one person you would like to call across time and to connect and re-connect, and celebrate a joyous moment?. Tarry not: call up today. My biggest regret even today is not to have said to a few (who passed away) what they have meant for me. I wish I had.
If this article has struck a chord, please do not like and move on. Instead write in and join, and share a name or relationship of a person you would like to re-connect with. And then go on, and do just that. And more power and blessings to you.