>> Wednesday, November 05, 2008

As I entered the once hallowed assembly hall, I wondered what had I feared all those years back. The choked throat, the rubbing of grimy shoes with ties, the hurried glance at the noticeboard glass to check any errant hair strands- scattered reactions I could recall but not really comprehend. Now, really, I muse, how could such a sunshine filled room have inspired such dread at the fearless age of ten?

An evil twist of fate had brought me back to my old school, one I had escaped from for a better, happier High School, and the fact that it was a school holiday and I would not be meeting anyone I remembered did nothing to alleviate my mood. Somewhere, there was a vindictive ten year old student in me, still waiting to prove to her class five class teacher that she was not a below average student. That she had done far better than the girl who had shown so much promise and had won the General Proficiency award. That Mathematics had not led to her academic downfall.
"There you go, you cow," I announced to an empty, lemon yellow classroom decorated with diagrams of the human body and sketches of Tagore and Napolean, " My Maths teacher said I was one of his best students. Did anyone call General Proficiency girl that?"

The previously grey, grimy walls had been altered to a cheery yellow, effectively removing the impression of being trapped in a dungeon. The school should have been full of atmosphere of things gone by- crushed teenage hopes, squabbles founded on monthly class tests, haunting whisperings of the morning prayer, secret crushes, teachers- snappy, kind, funny, pure evil- they were all there in the mind, the memory blown slightly out of proportion after five years, but not around me. Just impersonal lemon yellow walls, interspersed by chrome blue windows, which may not have been out of place in a poorly made science fiction movie.

Who would have known, I remark to myself, that I would be capable of a trip down a memory lane devoid of any form of sentiment. A dry, choked feeling still remains in the throat. School never is easy for ordinary people. There always are others who are better at everything you hope you are good at. The slight disappointments attempt to haunt, once again, not unlike a horror movie you try to forget when you are alone at home at midnight. I look out of the window for a respite. The sight of the sports field makes me twinge. Badminton was not considered a proper game and kabaddi meant running, pushing, dust, and violence, things a fat, slow, fourteen year old never cares for.

The library is a pleasant sight. How can you harbour an ill will to the place which gave you Anne? I stroll over to the water filter, the hang out zone for the popular kids. I remember falling in love for the first time, wonder, slightly amused, how I could not have seen the fact that he was gay. Everyone else could. I wander up to class ten. A class I had spent some of my happier days in, mostly secure in the knowledge that I would be leaving soon. The madness of the last working day. People suddenly realizing they loved other people, water balloon fights, outbreaks of weeping in the corridor, sudden appearance of beer bottles, all adding up to a day one does not forget in a hurry.

This school, I speak to the blackboard, is probably out of my system. I do not feel anything for you anymore. Not fear, not love, nothing.

As I leave, I decide to look up class eight once. The year I made some of my closest friends, the year I thought Bonky was an oily haired, geeky woman I could not deign to speak to (yes, I was the school snob, it has been mentioned often enough since), the year I made up my mind to study Chemistry, the year of first love, the year, when, apparently, everything happened.

The classroom did not look familiar, like the rest of them. More cheery yellow, with huge windows giving a view of the main gate, reminding me of sudden honeybee attacks we always welcomed. I walk over to the desk Sakshi and I had shared for one year, unsurprised by the scratched scrawls all over it. Every teenager needs his Hyde Park. Then I notice it.

Year 2001

Ritika: Hey, what is that word scratched there?
Sakshi: umm, I think it means (whispers)
Ritika: No way, let me look up my dictionary (yes, I was the sort who carried one to school and then used it to understand the writings on the bathroom walls). My dictionary does not list this word.
Sakshi: It is a Student's Concise Dictionary. Check mine.
Ritika (does so): Wow! People our age know such things? How did you? You are the most innocent person we have in this class.
Sakshi: I noticed the word before you did.

Seven years later, I stand there, in front of the desk, which has, miraculously, never changed its position, the F-word, scrawled in blue, a standing testimony to the fact. I look down, a wretched, despairing hollowness filling up every pore. Every essence of my school life, contained in that one, dirty word, a benediction to every hope and every joy, to what every day and every year meant once. What went far deeper than a few teachers and Physics.

School was over and I had made my peace with it.

10 scaly flippers:

The Ancient Mariner 2:06 am, November 05, 2008  

whoa !! school is over and u finally made peace with it!! splendid lines!! I wish I had written tihs...as I told you nostalgia i always thought was my forte...and you proved that u are better than me in this category too! Great going girly. be a more frequent blogger.

What's In A Name ? 2:11 am, November 05, 2008  

Its wrong to put down the entire gamut of school-days' memories to just one word but then certain things trigger our recall instantly.

A very 'grown-up' ( or should I say 'growing up') post by your standards of childish extravagance. A very beautiful post nevertheless.

One of those posts which brings some of my most cherished memories to the surface. One of the posts which makes you feel like rushing to your own 'create new post' page and type frantically in search of 'what might get lost if you are late'. But, then I decide against it.
Some other day, perhaps. :)

dreamy 3:25 am, November 05, 2008  

:)

~Moo-lah Buz!nezzz~ 4:35 pm, November 05, 2008  

Ur post just made me happy about my old times.All over again.
:)

Amazing Greys 7:17 pm, November 05, 2008  

i still dream of my old school sometimes. The people have all changed, they are people i know now, but the background is of that school.

Doubletake, Doublethink. 8:58 pm, November 05, 2008  

my classrooms never had lemon yellow walls, but yeah, school graffiti will one day be more important than hieroglyphics.

something tells me i spelt the last workd wrong. also, i love you for not having word verifications.

Abhishek 10:14 pm, November 07, 2008  

made me remember my school days - the obvious.
my school memories are shaped differently from yours - quite obvious.
people would not have expected this to come from you because you are "supposed" to write funny and vague stuff - my belief
wonderful post - my judgement

Noisy Autist 9:54 am, November 09, 2008  

beautifully written...

i relish my school memories and it's been really long since i last visited. i think i should go in near future... maybe this year's reunion.

The none 12:37 pm, November 09, 2008  

dhutteri! how can you make peace with school being over? i will always miss failing in history and fighting with my best friend over some random girl every year :(

ad libber 12:28 am, November 10, 2008  

@The ancient mariner
I would like to, but doing anything which requires not gaping idiotically at the walls tires me horribly.

@WIAN
Hmm, no, it meant much more, it reminded me of everything that had been fun and stupid and childish and wonderful.

@dreamy
told you.

@moo
yay :)

@amazing greys
Hmm, I think i understand. The same Bonky is one of my closest friends now.

@doubletake
hmm, The upper floor classrooms did. Or was it cream? I forget now.

@abhishek
Everyone had their own vision of school. Mine was a rather paranoid one.

@noisy autist
Have you even seen all those high school reunion movies? Very scary.

@the none
Jah, I miss tying two ponytails.

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