Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits her alma mater Lady Shri Ram College
The cream and gold invitations had been sent out a week earlier and the guests had been told to be seated 15 minutes before the show was to begin. After all, Nobel laureate and Myanmar’s Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Lady Shri Ram College’s most famous alumnus yet, was about to make an appearance on Friday at exactly 9 a.m.
“I have been crying this whole week from the moment I heard she was coming here. I think I was the first person to collect my invitation,” said her former math teacher Kusum Mehra, then Ms. Talwar.
She said she would go over to Ms. Suu’s house and give her private math tuition and then she and “Suu” would have the most amazing conversations as Ms. Talwar was young then, only a few years older than Suu. “There was this big piano in the front room, we used to sit there,” said a weepy Ms. Mehra.
Finally, at about 9-45 a.m. the guests, comprising faculty, alumni, students and other guests who had managed an invitation were told to hush up by the student volunteers and the school choir broke into a song with a chorus that went “Aung San Suu Kyi”. As if on cue, Ms. Suu entered, dressed in a pale pink traditional Burmese outfit interspersed with intricate garlands of jasmine flowers and matching heels. The trademark flowers in her hair were also jasmine.
Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor accompanied the graceful lady who was given an introduction by college principal Meenakshi Gopinath. She said that Diwali was also meant to celebrate the stamp of righteousness and that in this sense the college was celebrating Diwali by facilitating Ms. Suu.
After the claps and whistles had died down, governing body chairman Arun Ram said that “Suu” who scripted and performed several plays during her college days, was mostly remembered for her spoof on Shakespeare’s Othello.
Finally the moment came for Ms. Suu Kyi’s speech in which she fondly recalled her alma mater, referred to the principal as “her principal” and the students as “her girls” for whom she gave some sound advise on life, politics and sticking to one’s principles in times of adversity.
She was especially touched by songs in her honour as well as several other honours that the college had lined up for her by distinguished alumni. There were special paintings with subjects close to her heart and a puppet show based on a story she had written.
The function ended for Ms. Suu Kyi after she had planted a tree, cut a cake and obliged for photographs with faculty and alumni.
The stories followed later. “I actually got to meet her, I thought I couldn’t with so many people around, but I pushed my way to the front after she planted the tree and as soon as I told her who I was, she immediately hugged me. This is all too much, I am so, so happy ” added Ms. Mehra, in between sobs.