Sanjeev Vats—The Batch of 1986–1990
As I have mentioned so many times in my Blogs that more than memories; I carry impressions. As for me memories relate to all those happenings that had consistency and recurrence but impressions related to some particular event that makes that moment mark an indelible impression in my mind. And these impressions about persons or places that are deeply engraved in my heart surge up whenever a related reference comes up.
And it happened yesterday as well. We were discussing Public speaking and how language can be used as a very useful tool to win friends even when you are facing inclement mobs or groups as audience. The best examples of such speeches that came to my mind related to “Gettysburg Address” delivered by Abraham Lincoln to a crowd of people who had arranged a function to consecrate a piece of land in the memory of brave soldiers having laid their life in the Great American Civil war! It must have been a great job for Abraham Lincoln to justify the civil war at that solemn occasion when the mood was one of great loss at untimely deaths. But he won them over and even today his address is considered to be one of the best ever delivered.
The second example that we discussed pertained to Mark Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”. Antony, contrary to what he says, actually means to turn the citizens of Rome against Brutus and the conspirators, revenging Julius Caesar’s death. Anthony continues his speech by using the idea from Brutus’ speech that Caesar was an ambitious man. Brutus used this thought to support his basis for killing Julius Caesar. Antony does not dispute Brutus’ respectable reputation, instead he says what people want to hear but with his power over words changes everything!
It was while talking about this speech that I thought of Sanjeev Vats—one of our alumni of the batch of 1986-1990. While I was busy doing household chores, he came to my home one evening. “Ma’am, do you have Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’?” asked he. Though I remembered having it but where the book was at that time was a big mystery to me. Having shifted the house recently I had no cue about the whereabouts of the book. I wanted to find out the book for him but my three small kids vying for my attention made the mother in me take over the role of the teacher in me and I asked him to wait for some time or rather to come some other day. But he wanted the book that very day. He had to read Mark Antony’s speech and wanted it urgently. Inernet was something unheard of in the year 1986 and we had to search all material in print material. He was to participate in some competition. I was in dilemma. But an idea came to my mind. “Can you search for the book in the heap of junk that I have put in the attic?” There was a smile on his face (though he always had a smile), a broad smile—“why not?” and he seemed so happy.
And I remember him standing on a stool and searching the book in the junk that I had literally stored in the attic. My children were so happy to see someone searching in the junk that they stood mesmerized around him and asking him to find so many things in the heap that they wanted! And I was worried that what would he think about all the junk that I had accumulated instead of throwing it away!
That was Sanjeev Vats! A student of the first batch of REC Hamirpur. A Boy who would not take “No” for an answer and would find out a way to get what he wanted. Aiming straight for the shoot! We lost contact after 1990. And some 2-3 years back when I read news in The Tribune http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031004/himachal.htm#6 about Sanjeev Vats achievement I was not surprised. Sanjeev was acclaimed for his achievements “for getting a scholarship for study in the University of Cambridge. Mr. Vats is only one from
India who has won this scholarship.” I was happy as I had not only taught him in REC Hamirpur but in the local Govt. Degree
College as well where he was a student of Pre-engineering. I remember him as an inquisitive young boy who was always eager to learn. And his success today has proved my prediction about him true.
It is significant to note that the students and faculty those days created opportunities instead of waiting for the most sought after opportunities coming their way. Neither did we decry the lack of pportunities to stifle our growth. We looked forward to each day as a challenge and thereby as an opportunity to do something unique. As those were the times when we had very poor infrastructure in the college but one thing that both the students as well as the teachers had in ample measure was–the zeal to move ahead!