At LSR, Suu Kyi’s trip down memory lane with ‘my girls’

In a pink and lavender htamein (Myanmarese skirt), Aung San Suu Kyi stepped into Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) on Friday morning, almost five decades after she graduated from the institute.

"Coming to Lady Shri Ram College is not just coming home, it is coming back to a place where I know that my hopes have not been wrong," she said.

On its part, LSR had thought of everything — from customised red T-shirts to greeting their distinguished alumna with a famous Myanmarese song. When she arrived, students with placards cheered the entourage.

A rising crescendo of "Aung San Suu Kyi" was heard when she entered the auditorium, where she first learned Gandhiji's prayer song, Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.

"Before I came to India, I always knew that I have to come to Lady Shri Ram College, to this hall where I learnt to sing Gandhi's favourite song," Suu Kyi said.

She was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, LSR chairman Arun Bharatram and college principal Dr Meenakshi Gopinath, who described Friday's event as an "edifying moment".

The first time that Suu Kyi's controlled expressions took a break was when Bharatram recalled it was in this auditorium that her spoof of Othello was staged. He announced that the Centre for Conflict Transformation and Peace Building in the college will be renamed The Aung San Suu Kyi Centre for Peace.

Tharoor spoke of Suu Kyi's halo in a cynical age, her ability to be free from anger and bitterness, emerging from the house arrest unbowed in body and mind. When she rose to speak, he drew out the chair for her.

For many in the audience, for students past and present, it was a time of identifying themselves with her. Calling them "my girls", Suu Kyi spoke of impossible dreams being made possible through work and perseverance.

"Looking at the faces of the young people in the hall, I am reminded of the young people in Burma," she said.

Artwork and performances complimented the felicitation. Suu Kyi's short story, written when she was a student — Bird in the Woods — was presented through shadow puppetry by Anurupa Roy of Katkatha.

National award-winning artist Amita Sachdeva presented a ceramic Tree of Life, while Sarika Singh, one of India's first Thangka artists, presented Suu Kyi with a painting.

But the flashbulb moments came when the guests shifted to the lawns, where Suu Kyi cut a cake and planted a sapling.

Mobbed by photographers and excited alumni, there were bursts of laughter and delight coming from the rather petite frame. What followed was LSR bonhomie, with the likes of Vinita Bali cheering for the college, photo-ops and plans for future get-togethers.

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