The Next Chapter

Pleasant surprise: After I told my family that I did not want flowers as a gift, I received a bouquet with something I loved, Batman! (PHOTO: PAVETHRA D/O ANBALAGAN)

DMC graduate Pavethra d/o Anbalagan looks back with fondness the wonderful memories and friends she’s made at Republic Polytechnic.

Pleasant surprise: After I told my family that I did not want flowers as a gift, I received a bouquet with something I loved, Batman! (PHOTO: PAVETHRA D/O ANBALAGAN)

The moment I got out of the cab in front of One Stop Centre, I remembered my quickened pace, my fast-beating heart, and my anxious self as I walked past this exact same place in April 2018. 

It seems like only yesterday that I was a freshman enrolled in the diploma in Mass Communication (DMC) programme. Fast forward to three years later, here I was again, except that the campus was no longer bustling with activities, no thanks to the pandemic.

Be that as it may, it didn’t stop my memories from flowing back. Long conversations with friends over Mala and Chicken Rice at South canteen made me smile as I glanced over to the newly-renovated canteen while waiting to enter The Republic Cultural Centre (TRCC). 

I was overwhelmed with emotions as I saw the huge sign at TRCC that said: ‘Graduation 2021’. 

I made it; we all did. 

The graduation ceremony almost did not happen. Hence, I was excited to be able to meet the friends whom I’ve not seen for over a year. Though we were not allowed to mingle, it was heartening just to see each other physically, albeit from a distance and all masked up.  

The clicks and clacks of heels and court shoes echoed through the hall as we entered. There was no audience so to speak. I sat alone, at least 1m apart from the next person. 

The bright lights on stage reflected yet another big sign stating the words that marked our ceremony. Two podiums at each end of the stage ready for its respective speakers to come on and give us our goodbye speech. My handphone was constantly buzzing while I was waiting for the ceremony to start. My friends and family were watching the graduation proceedings online and were just as excited as I was.

Finally, the host came to the podium and announced the start of the ceremony. I sat patiently, waiting for my turn to go on stage. 

As I stood backstage, I gently folded the collar of my robe. I took out the golden enamel pin that was given to me, and as it shimmered under the show lights, the words, ‘Class of 2021’. It truly was a surreal feeling. 

My heart and hands were steady, as I took my diploma from the table. I then heard my name echo through the large hall. It was time. I walked briskly towards the marking on stage. With my diploma in hand, I smiled into the camera. A blinding flash was emitted, and I walked towards the other end of the stage. 

Before we knew it, it was the end of the ceremony. We bade farewell to one another. The sky started to rumble, a sign that the rain was about to pour down on us. I stepped into the cab that stopped before me. I gazed out the window and saw the place I was at for most of my time in the last three years. A place I have even come to call my second home, and this was it. 

The end of a tiring, wonderful, and loving journey. I have learnt so much here, and I will forever bring it with me. As the cab drove off, away from the school in sight, the only thing I could think of were the words, ‘Thank you’.

Pavethra from Class of 2021 was the Chief Editor of The Republican Post from March 2020 to September 2020.