Karan graduated from St. Stephen's College in 2010 and is enrolling at the MPhil program at Oxford University, UK. In his speech during the dismissal service of his class he shares insights into life at St. Stephen's. I enjoyed reading it and I hope you do too.
The opportunity to deliver this speech is both a privilege, as the representative of 400 students who consider themselves the best in the country, and a formidable task, one, because of the weight of expectations from the representative of the same 400 students who consider themselves the best in the country, two, because no matter what I say, I will not be able to articulate the emotions and thoughts that have we have experienced over the last three years and that guide our vision for the future, and three, because the last person to have this honour was Saattvic at the College’s 125th Anniversary, and it is an overwhelming task to fill the shoes of someone as brilliant as I think he is.
As many of you know, I speak too fast even under normal circumstances, and today my heart is racing faster than ever before. So, even if you can’t catch on to every word I speak, I hope you will catch on to the spirit with which I address you and forgive me for the rest.
It is interesting that the task to represent our batch falls on the shoulders of someone who came with the intention of leaving soon. I had already been offered admission to the University of Chicago when I was called for the interview. Having heard about the interviewers’ reputation for sarcasm and wit, I thought facing them will be a memorable experience. Instead, I faced Rev Thampu at his most courteous best, and even Mr Raghunathan was nice during the interview, revealing his capacity for hard questioning only during the tutorials. I was offered admission, but I came to Stephen’s merely to determine the opportunity cost of joining Chicago. The cost, fortunately, proved too high to pay.
Knowledge of my imminent departure freed me from the burden of impressions and brought confidence. But this same confidence enmeshed me in relations- friendships and membership of college societies- that served to hold me back. I was like the batsman who, knowing he could not be dismissed, constantly batted outside the crease and thus fell in love with batting. I loved every ball, regardless of whether it went for a Golden six or blew apart my middle stump; after all, I knew I could not be dismissed, because College life always gave me another chance.
But today, I will be Dismissed for sure. And just like the rest of my batch, I will miss St. Stephen’s College. I will miss the cackle of birds heard while leaving from the Rudra Gate in the evenings. I will miss the crust of Rohtas’ samosas, and the cold stone floor of the Chapel. I will miss the stillness of Science block and the energy of the Main Portico at 1.15. I will miss the sense of bonding which was too strong to prevent differences of senior-junior, departments, religions, regions, college societies and even SUS political camps from making any difference to friendships. I will miss running for morning assembly while Kripal Singh insistently beat the bell rod, and maybe I will miss the College Assembly, being the anchoring institution that it was, drawing in every batch and providing a sense of belonging, even though I was fortunate to have been woken up everyday just when we were required to stand for prayer. I will miss being around people who were there not only because of their marks, but also because of whom they were. I will miss teachers who instilled in me the spirit to overcome complacency, who made me realise that St. Stephen’s College was not the destination but only a path. Just like all of us here, I will miss, and I hope I will be missed.
But at the same time, I am glad to leave, to embrace change, and perhaps also to bring it about in the wider world. I can, at last, go forth into the world and strive to do something meaningful, and to join the legions of its alumni who have built its reputation as a College with social consciousness, where students imbibe the values of integrity, curiosity, and collectiveness. And as all of us go swift and far, we shall forever cherish the fact that we will be interlinked with its history and that we shall forever remain Stephanians.