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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why should we attend the Reunion? Why am I coming?

This is a question I have asked myself many times before as in many ways, it may appear at first sight to be not that important or worth the time, money and effort.

Our Medical Faculty days are a distant memory and soon the Reunion will also become one. Many things have happened in the last 50 years and life is such that we have moved on and made new friends, maintained contact with some colleagues on a regular basis, some on an occasional basis while some have been totally confined to history. This is not unusual and would apply to any group. I think it would be true to say that we have some memories we treasure and some we would rather forget! One of the problems with Batch reunions is that some of the unwanted memories become rekindled and then it becomes uncomfortable and unenjoyable. Some of us, without any malice whatsoever, but may be without sufficient sensitivity, recall humorous events concerning our colleagues which make us laugh but make them squirm. I think it is very important for us to remember this and be sensitive about the feelings of others.  This may even extend to seemingly innocuous things like nick names. Just imagine that one of us was known as "godaya" because he was thought to be unsophisticated and backward at the time. The last thing such a person wants to be called at a reunion is "godaya" unless of course he finds it a sign of affection to be remembered thus. (This is a totally hypothetical situation). In my own case, I am perfectly happy to be called Speedy by the way! Then there were batch romances which didn't work out as anticipated and it is not particularly pleasant to be reminded of this.

All this sounds very negative but is stated so that we retain some awareness and sensitivity when we meet. But why bother when you have your own circle of friends and acquaintances and have moved on in life. Well, I suppose the answer is very individual and I can only speak for myself. I regard at least 3 phases of my life as important and worth remembering with gratitude. The first phase is my childhood, growing up in a family and being carefully nurtured to be able to face the World into which I was born and the most important influence for that period were my parents. The second is the all important period in school and I owe so much to Royal College as I am sure all of you do to your respective schools. The third is my medical faculty days and I owe so much for being fortunate enough to have some of the best teachers in the World and to grow and mature within a group of batch mates each of whom contributed in some way or the other to enable me to qualify as a doctor in a supportive atmosphere. It was like a multicellular organism (the batch) with each and everyone a contributory cell (batch mate). When I joined the Faculty I had just turned 18 and I was frightened in general at the tremendous jump from school boy to medical student and terrified at the prospect of being ragged. It was a steep learning curve in so many ways. I was so naive and unsophisticated that I had never heard of deodorants till UVA de Silva introduced me to Odorono in a very kind and understanding way to help him socialise with him without having to pinch his nose! I had never been to a "9.30 show" till JC got me permission from my father to be taken and delivered back safely on the pillion of his Honda 50. I had never consumed alcohol and or been anywhere near a girl! I could go on and mention so many people who helped me to "grow up". Add to this the memory of all the brilliant teachers we had and it adds up to a most crucial period of my life. I will be 68 soon and already we have lost many of our colleagues and the plimsoll line of our batch is rising all the time inexorably as is the nature of things till all of us will become history. Time is valuable and who knows how many of us would be able to attend the next significant reunion which I presume could be in 5years time to celebrate "passing out" as doctors.

I am coming because I would love to meet as much of you as possible and recall the good days we had, of which there were many and far outnumbered the bad ones. I would love to meet so many of  you whose company I enjoyed and sadly have lost contact with. I like to share your successes, not necessarily academic but in whatever way you feel that you have made a success of your life. I like to empathise with any of you  who haven't had the best of times. It is chastening to be reminded of our mortality and the impermanent nature of this existence. In other words, I would love to mingle with my batch mates and their families in a most convivial atmosphere and enjoy exchanging joyful memories and take back fresh memories with me when I return.

I do hope that a lot of you would feel this way and make the effort to join this celebration and make it a great success, never to be forgotten. Once again, I like to thank the Organising committee for all the hard work.


(Mahendra Gonsalkorala)

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