It was their day. A time they had been waiting to celebrate with their families and friends. Some of them brought over the family’s oldest, perhaps a grandparent who could still walk. And some the youngest, even if only a few months old. But for those who received their degrees at the 65th Convocation of the Institute, the joy was simply so great that it could not be contained. It had to be shared – as generously as possible, as widely as possible, as loudly as possible. You would get the sense if you had happened to mingle among the lot, throwing their scarves into the sky in uproarious merriment as the day drew to a close.
What did the day mean to her? I asked Aliya Jabbar, breaking her solitude. She had been sitting all alone with her eyes closed in the Raman auditorium on the morning of the Convocation. “End of a journey, I think,” she said.
Having completed her Dual Degree in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, she had returned to the campus two days ago. “We’ve literally grown up here,” she said, closing her eyes often, perhaps to beat back the flood of memories that came descending. Arriving ahead of the Convocation, she had walked around, met friends who are still on campus, taken pictures and sent them off to her classmates who could not attend. “It’s been the happiest run and a memorable one too,” said Alaya, who will soon return to her job in Bengaluru as a research assistant.
“This is one moment I have been waiting for for the past four years,” said Parth Bindroo, a BTech graduate in Industrial Engineering. “The best part for me was seeing the look in my parents’ eyes,” chipped in his friend from the same department, Manjeet Singh Yadav. The friends have parted – one is in Mumbai, the other in Jaipur. But seeing them talk animatedly and tease each other as they made their way together to the Netaji Auditorium to collect their degrees, you could not have guessed that they have been away for the past few months.
Formerly a part of the Students’ Alumni Cell, Parth knows how to keep in touch. “There are Alumni chapters through which you can remain connected with your peers as well as the Institute,” he said. Manjeet added, “Besides that, we can always mentor the students… Our seniors have helped us, and we want to do the same.” “Of course, there is the Student-Alumni Mentorship Program through which we can be connected,” offered Parth wisely, having seen SAMP take off hugely as part of the Students’ Alumni Cell.
Close to the flower rangoli in front of the Alumni Affairs Office in the main building, there was a pleasant sight awaiting me – a proud husband taking the picture of his just-graduated wife, in-laws, and tiny infant, who clearly was not interested in the rangoli. Handling her four month-old daughter deftly, Laxmi Shaw, who had come to receive her PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from Rourkela, said, “Managing family and my work has been difficult, but if you achieve your goal, it is an awesome experience…This is a double PhD for me. I am now a mother and a doctorate.”
It was her husband who had got a degree, but Poulomi Ghosh was beside herself with joy. Hand in hand, the Ghoshes were on their way to the Electrical Engineering Department, where Jyotirmoy Ghosh had completed his PhD under the guidance of Prof. Amit Patra. “I have shown her the old building, our department, JCB – my Hall, CCD….,” said Jyotirmoy, who works with NXP Semiconductors in Bengaluru. He has already talked to the faculty in his Department and would follow up on his wish to mentor PhD students. Besides, given that his job was research-oriented, he is also keen to promote any research collaboration possible with IIT Kharagpur. “I will talk to my guide about how best I can connect…There are, in fact, many of my friends who are willing to connect,” he said.
As I walked back, I found a set of parents beside the rangoli this time – obviously a mother taking the picture of the father, trying her best to keep the rangoli in the background. Proud parents of Satyam Sevanya, BTech, Computer Science and Engineering, I learnt they had come down from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, to see their son receive his degree. “Accha mahol hai aur bahut accha mehesus kar raha hun (the ambience is wonderful and I am feeling great),” said Mr Sevanya. He is happy that Satyam got an immediate job placement – from Microsoft no less and with an enviable package. “I have a small hardware shop and didn’t have the money to send my child to Kota. But he was always a bright boy… He was keen to do Computer Science. I heard that there were only two IITs where Computer Science was the best, and IIT Kharagpur was one of them,” said Mr. Sevanya, pleased at how wonderfully things have turned out.
Satyam is posted in Hyderabad. While his parents tried their photography skills, he was with his friends, catching those last moments together. As I gazed beyond the Sevanyas, towards the patch of green in front of the main building, I could see a sea of happy, shining faces. Oblivious to the setting sun in the horizon, they were still soaking in the moment. Their moment. A moment they would cherish for a lifetime.
Graphics : Suman Sutradhar