Last month, I visited Ranchi for a couple of days almost after 23 years. I was so excited to visit that place, to see my school and go to those places which were slowly getting eroded from my memory. But the menace of ‘Naxalism’ completely ruined my enthusiasm. We could not go to remote villages and surely not in a ‘car or jeep’ as they garnered extra attention, and one local naxalite expert told me that in election time Naxals do not think before bashing up any outside face. Their policy.. first bash them up.. we will see the other issues later.
Though Ranchi city seemed quite peaceful, I ventured out on bike to find my childhood school and all I knew about that school was that there used to be a small hillock near the school and at top of that hillock there was a water tank. I called my mother to get more info. She told that the school was near a Hanuman temple in Harmu. We drove in and around Harmu and were able to locate almost 4-5 temples but the hillock was nowhere. That means there was no way to get to my school. New constructions and other developments made this place completely unrecognisable from the image of this place I had in mind.
So I came back to the guesthouse, disappointed. I was ruminating on a number of things ..Naxalism, Development, Urbanization etc.. My plan to take a road trip to Daltonganj, Garhwa and Ranka stood canceled. I wanted to use this weekend for that. It would have been an experience to visit these places but the fear of Naxalites and poor connectivity to these places left me with no options. Probably I will dare again, after the elections when the Naxal activities subside.
Next day I was busy in my official chores and I had given up on finding my old school in the concrete jungle, but a local resident and employee of the host organization here in Ranchi, blessed me with his local knowledge. He knew the location of the hillock which has a water tank on top. I realized I can still see my school and I ventured out. He took me near the hillock, in front of a very big nice looking school, St. Francis High School. He was sure that this was my school, but I knew I was not that lucky to have studied in schools like these. But I could still see the hillock and the water tank on top, our favorite place for having lunch around 23 years ago.
I wanted to go there again on the hilltop and somehow I found a way to go there and on the way, I found what I was looking for. That’s my school, I shouted. Rajkiya Krit Madhya Vidyalaya, Harmu – 12. Suddenly those faint memories became vivid. I could remember the place I used to stand for morning prayers and the school gate and numerous related incidents. School gate was a common factor in most of the incidents. I jumped the wall to go inside the campus (once inside I realized there were numerous ways, and surely not intended ones, to get inside the campus, the surrounding wall was broken at many places) and saw the menu of the food served under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan painted on the wall.
I pulled out my camera, wanted to capture these moments of relived, realised nostalgia. Great feeling to be there. If I look back on my school days, the biggest complaint (apart from not being able to study in any ‘decent’ schools) is my father’s job forcing frequent school changes for me, that means I have no trace of those childhood friends. All gone.