November 27, 1951 was a very special day for a group of young men and women, who stood bursting with pride and excitement, when the then Prime Minister of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru, lit the lamp, marking the formal opening of their alma mater and the first medical school in the State.
Sixty years later, on November 27, 2011, when the very first batch of medical students of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College (TMC) is planning their first grand get-together, the sentiments are no different. There is a lot of excitement, happiness and nostalgia but tinged with sadness, that so many of their classmates are no more with them.
“It is a big day for us. We are all very excited about this reunion on the occasion of the Diamond jubilee of our College. All of us are almost octogenarians and this may perhaps be our last chance to get together like this…,” says M. Balaraman Nair, a first batch student, who also went on to become the first Professor, Principal and the first Director of Medical Education from this batch.
It was on August 1, 1951 that the first batch of 63 students joined TMC. Today, 23 of them are no more. Among the rest too, many are abroad, several are ailing and have mobility issues.
This grand reunion of the 1951 batch would not have been possible if not for the idle curiosity and weird yet wonderful persistence of Kishorekumar, a Kayamkulam-based physician, who took it upon himself to trace the entire list of students of the very first batch of TMC. The full list was not available even in official records and the 1951 batch had never had any kind of reunions.
After painstaking search over months, utilising Facebook and group mailings, Dr. Kishore managed to trace all 63 names and established contact with 39 out of the 40 students who are alive and well.
He has managed to collect the photographs and traced the families of almost all, except four who are no more. The 1951 TMC batch includes several illustrious names like M.S. Valiathan, K.V. Krishnadas, P.P. Joseph, P. Sukumaran, whose professional achievements and contributions to the health sector are well-known.
Dr. Balaraman Nair, who has vivid memories of all his classmates, teachers and the wondrous years at TMC as a student, is now at the forefront of organising the reunion and Diamond Jubilee. He is bursting with stories and anecdotes, many of which will go into the souvenir being brought out on the occasion.
The souvenir is to be a valuable keep-sake, with lots of prized photographs, stories and anecdotes on campus life, ragging and love affairs of the time.
There are also plans to make a movie out of the photographs that are being collected from all batchmates.
“We were a family of 63 and those were times of abiding friendships and venerable ‘gurus' who taught us that academic brilliance alone did not make a good doctor. There is so much to relive… Sadly, all of us may not be able to come.
But it will be a proud moment for us when we get to meet one of our teachers, Dr. Parameswaran from Chennai, at the reunion,” Dr. Balaraman says.