The class WhatsApp group had been abuzz as soon as the message about the tentative convocation dates were mailed. Everyone had been planning to fly to Mumbai from their work locations, as this could possibly be the last time the entire batch would be together. There were a number of reasons why the idea of convocation didn’t thrill me – travelling approximately 3500+ km one-way over a span of six hours just to attend an event was on top of the list. However, the more I thought of it, the more eager I became to meet my classmates and collect my degree certificates in person. Convocation wasn’t just an event that marked the completion of five years of university life – it marked the end of seventeen years of hard work and effort.
As the time for my flight to Mumbai inched closer, my excitement hit the roof. I had begun packing a week before the journey and had been counting down the minutes to the flight. Having made elaborate plans to optimise my luggage, I ended up packing stuff almost until the moment I boarded the cab. The seemingly infinite 23km journey from my guest house finally came to an end, as the cab finally came to a halt. The SpiceJet flight was due to take off from Guwahati a little before 4pm and would reach Mumbai only a wee bit after 10. I was allocated a nice window seat in the front and enjoyed the view for the whole of the evening.
The layover in Delhi was an interesting experience. I got the opportunity to witness the number of activities that take place before the passengers boarded the aircraft. I was amazed by the level of precision and optimization of the entire process – within the span of forty five minutes 150+ passengers had deplaned, a team from ground operations had come in and checked the luggage and the boarding passes of the remaining passengers, the entire cabin had been vacuumed and cleaned (including checking of seat pockets, spraying of disinfectants and criss-crossing of the seatbelts), and the boarding of the new passengers was complete. Kudos to SpiceJet – it felt like an airline equivalent of an F1 pit stop!
Considering the huge number of graduating students, my college had allowed only one parent to attend the ceremony, and that too on a first-come-first-serve basis. My dad was supposed to pick me up from the airport and accompany me to the ceremony, as my mom was heading to the city where my sister is studying. A part of me was really sad, as my only wish since the beginning of my college was to see my parents and sister celebrate with me on the day of my graduation. A long fifteen-minute-wait at the rendezvous point later, I saw a familiar figure walking to me. My jaw dropped, as I realized it was my mom – she surprised me by cancelling her tickets and coming to Mumbai instead!
The next morning was pretty eventful – like always, I took the train to the college. Having collected my gown and cap after registering for the ceremony, I spent a lot of time talking to my batch mates. It was a lovely feeling meeting up with friends – people had flown in from various corners of the country. There was a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach – although I had been eagerly awaiting the receipt of my degree certificates, I didn’t really want the time to pass.
We did discover a number of things that day, including the fact that we had a really badass Registrar. She didn’t even need a mic – her voice alone was enough to evoke discipline from the rowdiest of people sitting in the last rows! She did have a sense of humour though. After a couple of rehearsals for the main event (and one of the university anthem), we left for the class photograph and returned half an hour later.
Seated on the seats reserved for meritorious students, I couldn’t be prouder. Five years of hard work and effort were being recognised, and having my parents be a part of the moment was certainly the icing on the cake. The chief guest for the afternoon was Dr Ajit Ranade, the Chief Economic Advisor for the Aditya Birla Group. His speech was really memorable – he spoke about quite a few topics, while citing examples that we could relate to. Quoting Sir Francis Bacon, he urged us to develop the “Desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to reconsider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; to neither admire something just because it’s new and nor because it’s old.” His speech ended in a thunderous applause as he remarked “Your future is so bright,” putting on a pair of shades, “that I’m putting on sunglasses!”
My day had been excellent so far and I thought I was done with my share of surprises. Clearly that wasn’t the case, as my sister came running out of nowhere and hugged me tight. “I promised you that I wouldn’t miss it for the world” she whispered. Having travelled by an overnight interstate bus, she astonished me by directly arriving at the venue. A million emotions filled my head as we posed for the family photograph, with happiness being the most dominant one. Gratitude was definitely a close second – all that I had ever hoped and wished for had come true.