Sometimes I get too tired.
Too tired of learning the language of maturity
Of counting the hours, days, months & years to reach my goal
Of drawing the graphs of my success & failure
Of understanding the science behind how strong efforts get subsided by mere luck
Of squeezing by wings just to fit into the society.
Too tired to organize my perplexed present
Too tired to foresee my fancy future.
Then I just go back to the point where I had started.
That point when all I wished in my life is not to go to school.
But that wish faded gradually, happily & fortunately. And Maa Upulei(my village deity) answered the prayer of my parents. I started going to school without the application of any physical & mental force. How many teachers may come into my life, the teacher who still tops the list & pops in my mind first on teachers’ day is Jublee nana( Kalpana miss). My mother says if Jublee nana was not there, then my feet might not have touched the soil of educational institutions. I wish I could tell her this when last year Jublee nana asked me till when I will send gifts to her on teachers’ day. Gratitude for the first formal teacher of your life can never end and she was my first.
For the initial two years, my academics was moving so slow. How much my score might have soared in other subjects, drawing used to pull me down as much as it could. Later when people started appreciating my art & tagged my hand as artistic, remembering those days of my life always gave me a reason to never take credits on my own, but to give all those to Maa Saraswati & Chai nani.
After standard 1, the sincere student in me got birth. The result of listening in the class with full attention & completing homework with high interest started reflecting in the progress report. Success in scholarships & class exams used to water my love for studies. How good were the days when studies were more about reading, writing & enjoying and less about revising, analysing & memorising! Sometimes a memory of the class 3 scholarship exam pops up in my mind to make me realise what a poor student I was in the veil of a topper. Amidst that exam, I had come outside the hall to attend nature’s call. Bidu miss was standing there & asked me if there was any question which I didn’t know. I asked her “Which organism is known as a farmer’s friend?” Now whenever I mug up the fertilizer names & doses, my mind travels back to that incident. From going to school in baba’s scooter to returning home in overloaded Ramesh uncle’s auto, time flew so fast.
Today when I have become excessively choosy about allowing someone to enter into the friendship chamber of my heart, some kids are still staying there effortlessly without exiting. Those kids, to whom I can proudly & confidently call baspan ka dost. Mama, Sona, Kittie, Bitu, Tanu.
I don’t know how that tall girl got an easy entry into my tiny world. From sitting together in class to going for pee together, from gifting the best greeting card to her on the new year to saving her photos in my album, from attending her uncle’s wedding to her visits to our home, from sharing secrets with her to using her green gel pens, I never realized when I tagged Mama as the first best friend of my life.
Nowadays when I & Sona discuss complex life happenings in a low voice so that no other ears can listen, then the days when we used to gossip endlessly in the auto while travelling, when we used to play bride groom game for hours on the terrace flash before my eyes.
Sometimes when Kittie comes to our village, our front yard becomes the kitchen where we used to play with our toy cooking kits. Once I was trying to taste the ketchup manufactured by my nose & from the side she shouted “Ehhheee”. The awkwardness of that moment is now a memory that always makes me laugh.
Once upon a time, I had let a lefty guy sign first although his serial was in second. That day I learnt signature means writing your name, not drawing those difficult curves in red pen like the teachers. Bitu was that jealous guy mocking me when I was distributing chocolates after scholarship results. He was that kanjoos guy who used to come with a small number of toffees on his birthday. I have seen his innocent avtar in PGN to flirter avtar in BJB. But whenever I talk to him, no sense of discomfort is felt. Maybe in him, I still see that kid with a white shirt & maroon half pant singing Radha sundar ki Meera sundar.
From running after him with Sona to make him sit between us to hating him for his good scores earned with the help of copy & partiality, I must have understood the concept of Tanwir Alam Khan. Maybe thatswhy, I have not yet forgotten the cuteness of that face & voice although it has been more than a decade of not meeting him. But from people, I listen that the old concept of Tanu has been changed since long.
I remember Ashirbad as the kid who knew about the neighbouring countries of India better than me. Maybe, since that day I had developed the bad habit of referring to multiple books for a single thing, the habit of which I am still trying to get rid of.
Those moments of sharing the tiffin box with him & revising the syllabus with our moms during midbreak in the time of the 5th class scholarship exam have been wilted a lot in my conscience, but they can never be dead. Because Chandra is meant to wax & wane, but never vanishes completely.
Lisa remains in my PGN diary as that villain girl who used to snatch all the mysore pak & dates of my tiffinbox. Lemme tell one encounter with her which still makes me think how evilness was not an antonym of innocence during childhood. Once she had given me a 50 paisa greeting card in which the portrait of a heroine was there. Seeing that, I had drawn a similar portrait on a paper. After that, we had a fight due to some reason. Then she had asked me to return her that greeting card & to tear the portrait that I had drawn claiming that as her property. What a cute kinda evil she was!
Sometimes the faces of that chubby kid Jyotiska, naughty kid Omkar, dropping eyed kid Aswin, shy kid Abhishek, romeo kid Kamal, girlish kid Chandu, dormant kid Bichitra, tall kid Rajkishor, silent kid Aditya & not-much-known kid Manoj & Nishikant appear & disappear in my memory canvas in a flash to make me realise that strangers are not always the people whom we have never met before. It becomes tough to believe that the complaining girl from hospital, Sai & the brown haired girl from UP, Khusboo have become too big to take the responsibility of vermilion. The names, Rupali, Barsha, and Pooja feel like those dusted furniture in the storeroom which you have not used since time immemorial, still, you don’t discard them.
I miss the time when extra hours of study don’t feel like a burden. The memories of those extra classes during summer when we used to make bouquets out of leaves to gift miss, when we used to play that doodle & identify game, when we used to give our all to finish a math fast, when we used to search for cashewnuts in the nearby orchard when we used to see each other in casual dresses, still smell so serene. And I think that aroma will linger longer.
From misinterpreting Sunita miss as a serious coldblooded teacher to hiding my tears on her last day in school, I must mention her as the first favourite teacher of my life, the teacher for whom I had developed a soft corner for science.
I still smile remembering the times when I used to feel so happy after getting more love & attention from Minakshi miss, when I used to crave a crisscross knotted sandal like that of Mamta miss, when I used hate Mandakini miss for punishing me so hard for not bringing handwriting copy.
An ear to ear curve gets painted on my face when I remember the time when I used to think that Kaali miss loves my brother more than she loves me. Because she used to paint on his forehead, but never on mine. Maybe I can never forget that happiness of meeting her & getting toffees from her on the day she visited school after marriage!
I don’t know how they must have been looking now. I don’t know if age would have cast its spell on their appearance or not. All I know is Jullie miss will always remain as beautiful, Maami miss as cute, Tilottama miss as active & Bidu miss as lean in my conscience. Days with Mita miss, Mami miss & Ranjan sir were too low, but I used to consider them as mamughar wala miss & sir.
How can I dare not remember about that old man with bald head & white uniform! The man who made me mug up the definition of science & taught the cursives. And when it comes to him, how can I turn a blind eye to his left hand, Purna sir!
Sometimes instead of gratitude, hatred develop in our mind for the persons who do a lot for us. And we realise that thing later. Guni aunty is such a person to me. I used to think her as an evil witch. Then, I had never appreciated her small acts of kindness, how she used to stuff my mouth with food despite my unwillingness, and how she used to clean my vomiting multiple times. Maybe it was her duty & she got paid for that. But somewhere I felt that she must not have done these for me with so much care if she didn’t have love for me in her heart. Anyways, Nirupama aunty was a sweet lady.
Annual function during that time was all about putting loads of powder on the face, wearing a cute costume & performing some crammed dance steps. The best part of sports day was to compete for more Glucon-D & to squeeze orange peels on the eyes of friends. Saraswati pooja was revolving around bhoji & independence day was a synonym of seobundiaa.
How much I might have blamed the school for not having a good toilet, but I must say that searching for dry sand & investing the surrounding before peeing was a different kind experience. Those cravings to occupy the playground slide & swing were never satiable to the full extent. And being a silent kid, I used to struggle more than others to get a chance. I still visualise that garden in middle, that connecting slope, that gate, those stairs, and those classrooms, each time I walk down the memory lane.
Sometimes that last day in PGN knocks on my conscience. Even today, I can literally hear Ranjan sir saying “Kuade jibu ba tu?”(Where are you going?) & Bidu miss saying “Haire kanduchu na kan?”(Hey, Are you crying?). Six years in that school & fifteen years of not visiting that again. But nothing doesn’t seem too much distant, too much old about PGN till today. Whenever I cross that road, I do a futile attempt to peep into the school. And if some new people are there with me, I never forget to tell them that my first school is here.
I wanted to recollect the point where I had started studying. And look, I ended up writing this long. Anyways, nostalgia is real & beautiful.