Ever unwound on a humid, rainy day with a cup of coffee reminiscing over the past? Thinking about the amorphous days when your whole life was serendipitous, when hands were constantly sticky from never having to wash them. Fear was a thing of the unknown, minds and hearts filled with longing for summer days when mangoes would fall out of the sky and eating them didn’t give us pimples. We didn’t worry about elections, climate or the economy, couldn’t spell love but would feel it with every dog we played with. Have these memories offered you comfort in the face of consternation during this pandemic? 

Transporting yourself to a juncture in life when the sun was bright as you rushed through the front gates at the stroke of the morning bell to just make it in the knick of time, or to the shuffling of shoes in line for assembly, the side glances and groans when classes extended too long or the unforgettable aroma from noisy lunch boxes during break are sure to give you pangs of nostalgia. 

Did that mental image deliver you to your brown desk with your name engraved on it, the friends that you met practically every day of your life that are now limited to reunions and special events? With wide grins and varied uniforms, the pictures remain shielded in albums and memories. 

School, a bittersweet term forever etched in our hearts. It has to be one of the most dreaded yet enjoyable phases of our lives. There we were, safely cocooned away from the stress of adulthood, basking in blissful oblivion.  If I ever encounter a time machine, I would go back to my younger self offering her a piece of advice to ‘stop worrying about growing up and enjoy the moments that won’t last forever’. Looking back at school photographs and journals remind us of a time that passed by in a flash, little did we realise that we would carry these bittersweet memories for a lifetime. 

School was a formative period in our lives, from the first friends we made, to the values and attitudes that shaped us into adults. As children we were completely enthralled with our lives, be it forging signatures on report cards, whitening our shoes with chalk to avoid the headmaster’s admonitions or coming up with implausible explanations to avoid classes. Been there, done that right? Well, unless you were too good to be true. Ergo classes would have been safe havens. 

Either way, none of us can underrate the effect that school had on us. For better or for worse, it moulded our dispositions, our morals, values and the very embodiment of who we are today. 

To further share our nostalgic aching to get back into our school uniforms, we have compiled a few stories and photographs of people’s most profound memory from their school life. Sit back with your coffee, let us take you back to the eighth period. 

My memories of school days give a mix of warmth and a slight sense of relief. The warmth brings back specific instances, like the first time I was taught to lie to a teacher (I'm still best friends with her till date), trying to bend the rules of fashion with our uniforms and endless shared lunches. The warmth also comes back with the relief of discovering the ability to question rules and norms. Understanding that social cliques and peer pressure are very real and there (sometimes) exists a choice to disengage from it.  For me, nostalgia about school days is fond memories, comfort in knowing that it has passed by and relief in taking what I can from my school experiences. It also comes with a secret glee in knowing that nostalgia both in its experience and composition of varied emotions is nearly universal when you begin interacting with others in adulthood. – Deepika Mahesh, Psychologist, co-founder of Tangent MHI.

I’ve had many crushes through high school, but this one particular crush remains imprinted in my memory. One day I was near my school gates waiting for my friend while I was on my phone when I saw the crush of mine looking at me. He later gestured and approached me.  He went on to say ‘wow you’re so pretty, can I get your phone number?’ And in that moment of shock, I lost my train of thought and replied that I didn’t have a phone. And casually went back resuming my conversation. He stood there in confusion watching me as I walked away. Till date, I am unsure as to why I reacted that way to one of the cutest boys in school. – Sarah Fizel, Photographer, co-founder of Vurccidali. 

I vividly remember my first break. I was barely 4 years old in kindergarten. At the time there was a tradition that if a girl and boy liked each other, we’d kneel under the round table in one of the classes, hold hands and pronounce our love and get married. What should have been an innocent love story ensued in a love triangle between my friend Haritha, Aldrin and I. We were both fond of Aldrin, one of the cutest boys in the class (at the time). However, it was to my dismay that I found out Aldrin loved (just being dramatic) Haritha. One fateful day I found Aldrin and Haritha holding hands under the round table. My first heartbreak remains unforgettable. – Dhanya Divakaran, Montessori School Teacher.

As a perpetual latecomer, coming late was a habit that began in primary school and continued all through high school. In 11th grade, teachers had begun to lose hope in my punctuality due to my continued tardiness. On one eventful day, I had entered the school with an irritable state of mind and the teacher, unlike any other day, asked me to go back home. I stood there with no inclination to argue or apologise, and walked out of the gate the very moment and angrily skedaddled back home. Despite several warnings and punishments, it took me years to change this habit. And I’ve grown to realise the value of time and punctuality- Simran Shroff, Baker.

I remember my days in school when my friends and I used to give each other tasks to fulfil in the playground. There we used to pretend to be superheroes in training. From pull-ups on those horizontal ladders to swinging upside down on parallel bars and rounds of the football on the court, we were daredevils. And the ultimate task was an obstacle course run around the entire playground. At the end of each task we all felt an unparalleled sense of achievement.