Is there anything more bitter-sweet than the last day of school?
As a part of the Covid-19 batch, I didn’t have a proper last day of school. But I do remember the day I found out I won’t have it and while it’s not the real thing, that memory does come close. A major part of that day was spent sighing in relief, knowing that it was the last time I’ll ever to look at those books, that the looming cloud of the impending board exams wasn’t threatening to burst anymore. I spent hours on the phone with friends new and old, rejoicing the end of an overly prolonged journey that amounted to, well, essentially nothing. All those assignments, online exams, tests, group projects, more assignments, all that hard work and nothing to show for it.
And like all highs, this one did not last long. Getting rid of course books was easy but packing up the uniform, knowing it’ll never be worn again, that was as close to an existential crisis as I ever want to get. So many memories attached to such simple articles of clothing. Stains from paint spilt in art class that are still faintly visible, a tear in the shirt from running around during lunch, shoes that still carry traces of playground dust, it’s all there and there it will remain.
The act of folding those clothes and saying one last goodbye before putting them away was so intensely multi-faceted. The end of school, the buildings you’ve known, the teachers, the acquaintances, even friendships alter somehow. There’s a certain freedom that we usually look forward to, no longer bounded by uniform regulations and early morning assemblies. But something about leaving this sheltered, maybe even pampered environment is anxiety-inducing. “When you get to college, no one’s going to care if you study or not, no one’s going to care if you attend classes or not, no one is going to care.” Well, shouldn’t they? Maybe there can exist such a thing as too much freedom.
And of course, change. Things aren’t changing anymore, they have already changed. Even so much as glance to the past and you’re left behind. It’s done, school is done. And whether you’re ready or not, whether you want to or not, it’s all irrelevant, you have to move on.
Packing up that uniform was so much more than just folding a few clothes. It wasn’t just a farewell to starch white and navy blue, it also meant putting away childhood whims and fancies that’ll just seem childish going forward. Habits, routines, the life that you had, that’ll change and you can just hope it’s for the better. This uniform, and everything that went hand in hand, it won’t be of any use now. But it’ll always be on the bottom shelf to look at.
Naina Priydarshi Mishra