Category Archives: Childhood

Waiting: Story 2


Occasion: School assembly – World Environment Day .

Anchor: Coming up next, a group song by H and party!

Well, that would be a relief. We were intrigued too – environment day… song? Soon H and ‘party’ were on the stage – H in the middle and two girls each on her either side. H had on many previous occasions entertained us with both her solo and group performances. And it began –  another typical school group song. The main singer, H, started with a song that did justice to the topic of the day. Her open, bold voice was a sure entertainer. Thus it went on.

So far, so good.

But soon the song ceased to ‘entertain’. H was still singing, but ALL ALONE, yet to be joined and supported by the chorus. It was almost half way into the song, but there was no sign of it being a ‘group’ song. We could no longer pay attention to H’s song. The other four girls stood rooted, perplexed, like the audience who by now were impatiently waiting for the other four to open their mouths. After all why were they there? What was their role? Were they simply accompanying H? Or did they forget their lines? Did they suddenly give up their plan to sing? Was it some kind of a sweet revenge on H? Was it the ultimate WE Day prank?

Within minutes the group/solo identity-confused performance was over. They were courteous enough to thank the patient audience before leaving the stage. Mesmerized by the nature of the performance, even the grade one students (most sincere applauders) forgot to applaud.

*   *  *

I knew the answer would come my way, and it did, shortly afterwards. H and party dropped by with the explanation. Yes, it was actually supposed to be a group song. They had all learned the lyrics. But due to lack of time they could not get a rehearsal together. The poor chorus had no idea when to take out their lines. And thus it ended up a solo! We had a good laugh.

Ever since, the English teachers of the school are found to be using this example for the Third Conditional (Gr.):

If the girls had practised the song together they would have ……… :) 

Waiting: Story 1


“Good! Next, you there, read out your answer, please.” F stood up and started preparing to read. Everything looked just fine, so far, but nobody knew those were the initial peaceful minutes of a slight thriller. Seconds passed by, and she was still preparing to read. A chuckle started to spread all over the class. The busy teacher became curious, and before losing herself to anger, confirmed F had been (physically and emotionally) all right. The friends had no evidence to prove it otherwise. F grew more pathetic and looked at her neighbour helplessly. The teacher, holding on to her last vestige of self-control, tried to encourage her to read. But alas, nothing happened! F was alarmingly quiet as if someone had accidentally pressed her mute button. She miserably gestured something to her friend who failed to decipher it. Already about five precious minutes from those final periods of the Term had been spent in anticipation of an answer that seemed infinitely remote. The  chuckling had by now given way to a perplexed, uneasy silence. Ms. J. , unable to take it any more, stormed out of the class passing this verdict – “Call me when you are ready!” The confused class almost let out a cry, shocked by the disconcerting turn of events.

***

Ms.  J. was at sea. Unlike many previous occasions, that day there was no homework defaulter, leaving no reason for the girls to worry about, or the teacher to take out her vehement sermon the nth time in two months. What must have gone wrong?

As Ms. J. sat there in her room, they arrived – F escorted by the beneficent school leader who of late had been sincerely carrying out her role as the helping angel for the ill-fated ones. “Teacher, she will read it.” Ms. J. readily agreed to the compromise. The angel was asked to leave. F looked desperate to let go the only shield against the  likely onslaught of the annoyed teacher. Having no time to risk that favourable twist, F was released too.

***

No other story might have had a smoother ending. The teacher got back to the class, F read out her answers and the teacher continued from where she had stopped as if nothing had gone wrong.

But Ms. J is still waiting – for F to explain it all to her, someday.

Happy Birthday, Papa!


“Bindu!!!!” Papa’s calling! What went wrong this time? I shuddered each time the furious call rang through the length of our house (such an elongate house indeed). I was not a very naughty child but still there would always be something to rile the precisionist. I had never had the nerve to face up his wrath. (I’ll meet the raging of the skies, But not an angry father.”—Lord Ullin’s Daughter)

That was long, long ago. ‘Time eases all things’. Now he is no longer the Papa I was used to.

Papa and me

Papa and me

Tomorrow he turns 78. Wasn’t it just yesterday that the whole family came together to celebrate his 50th birthday?

Apart from the scary image of an austere father, he possesses a lot of rare qualities I admire – systematic, organised, punctual, and perfect!

At the remotest corners of my memory are two scenes – the way he sharpened our pencils with his special little chisel and covered our books during our school days. It was such a pleasure to watch him meticulously perform those tasks. Now when I sit with the books of my kids or when I seek a knife to sharpen their pencils I find myself mimicking my father.

I used to boast to my friends about my father’s artistic skills. Carpentry being his hobby much of the furniture in the house was his creation. The duties of an accountant never prevented him from pursuing his passion. His workshop housed a perfect collection of tools, machinery and knickknacks, enough to make any professional carpenter green with envy.

The workshop was (it is still there intact) such an amusing place walled with shelves of compact racks. The place contained a world. You name it, you find it. The restricted place which suggested TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED held enough magic for the curiosity cat in me. The minute the ‘Giant’ stepped out of the house the workshop would be all mine, to explore. In spite of the intricacy of the place it was never difficult to locate an item because they were all neatly labelled and arranged. I was pretty well acquainted with the place. But he was shrewd enough to smell the intrusion had a single item been misplaced. Needless to say I was very cautious and mindful whenever I encroached.

He has been a hoarder too. Coming from a house without a sq. cm. of free space I have made up my mind not to be a pack rat. I do collect, but I can get enough nerve up to throw them out too (instead of letting them gather dust), when they start cramming my tiny home. Space is freedom, comfort, relief – I now realize.

He taught himself a lot of skills. That inspired me to pick up a few skills myself. I always tried to learn something he was not so good at – say, drawing, stitching, versification etc. leaving no scope for the critic in him. Rarely did he commend our skills. That’s why when he chose me to press his clothes (after he stopped giving them at the dry cleaner’s) I considered it a token of appreciation from him. Each time it was a test and the smile on his face was my trophy. (On a lighter note: After I left for my higher studies I once asked him who did the job for him. He retorted, ‘As the pennu (maid) who used to do it has left, I have to do it myself these days.’)

Above all he is a wonderful narrator. Even a trivial incident would be woven into a fabulous story with a dramatic introduction, suspense and climax. He knows how to hold his listeners with the spell of story-telling.

Thank you Papa, for what you have taught me to be and not to be.I feel proud when Mummy says ‘she takes after Papa’. I am imperfect in my own ways. And as I grow older I realize we are more or less the replicas of our parents. Let it be so. It’s all in our genes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Wish you peace, health and strength!

My village


P1100149

P1100169

rubber close

P1100192

P1100191

Jack fruit 1

banana

Jathi

P1100186

Pulhi

wildflower

Bamboo

Rapist Manifesto


The prescriptions by various political, religious and social leaders in the wake of the Delhi incident have enlightened us, unveiling the mindset of the rapists. And this is how one rapist may speak to you.

Dear sisters and virtuous women,

We are writing this for the sake of all women who wish to safeguard their honour, virginity and life.

You know we don’t rape every woman out there.

  • We are very selective.
  • We are not barbarians or beasts who pounce upon every woman we come across.
  • We have our own criteria, rules, and even scruples.

But before we explain that, you should acquire some insight into the stuff we are made of.

We have strong bodies but our minds are weak and uncontrollable, at times. Of course we are made of sterner stuff. Unfortunately, we lack control over our emotions especially sexual. The moment we set our eyes on the beauty or the contour of a woman we are turned on. So you may be wondering all the women who have been raped were not noted for their beauty. Yes, but we have the power to imagine the beauty even in an ugly one (just like we morph certain pics). Above all, there is no distinction between the pleasures the bodies of the beautiful and ugly ones could offer. So we compromise on external beauty, looks, size, age.

There are a few kinds of women we prefer/choose/must have to rape. It will be beneficial to you so that you can wipe out such traits (1 to 5) from you if you wish to go unharmed and live a  peaceful life.

  1. The bold: There are certain women who never hesitate to blurt out their opinions, claiming that they know a lot, trying to outsmart men. Blame the modern media and the undue amount of education women are receiving these days. Such women can be tamed down only through rape. After that they will realize how fragile and worthless they are. Keep in mind that we have nothing to lose.
  2. The fearless: These days many women dare to step out of their houses even after nightfall. Isn’t that obviously a challenge to the men folk who monopolize the world at that time? Women are supposed to be afraid of darkness. What business do they have on the streets at night? We know what they expect and we are too happy to administer them what they are asking for.
  3. The independent: They believe they can survive without the support of men. We just want to prove them wrong. If they start defying men and writing them off as unnecessary, what will be the future of our society? Hope you get our good intentions.
  4. The lonely: This is a variation of the third group. They don’t mind travelling around alone. What are they trying to convey? “We are not afraid of men”? They definitely need an experience to correct their misconceptions.
  5. The immoral: (We are not talking about the prostitutes.) Some try to blindly imitate the western culture by using makeup and wearing revealing clothes. We enjoy watching our favourite sexy actresses in such accessories, but what will an ordinary woman have to do with that sort of things? Some move around with their boyfriends at odd hours. Even many of you are against such immoral girls and will be only too happy if we teach them a lesson. And no decent woman would roam about in the street after 6.00 pm. Those who are there don’t mind us using them for our entertainment because that is what they come prepared for.
  6. The retarded: They are damaged goods, who are not in demand in the marriage market. So what is wrong in using them for our pleasure? They rarely complain. If they have no complaints why should others bother?
  7. The kids: The kids are pure. They will keep quiet. So if we are not lucky enough to get grown ups sometimes we will have to adjust with the tender ones. (6 and 7 are used usually when we are bereft of chances to satisfy our needs or when they are easily available.)

We are sure you would agree that rape is the best solution to tame down women 1 to 5. Acid attack is effective too, but not as ‘good’ as rape. Our goal is to conserve the family and the patriarchal system in our society. If women start raising their voice the society will soon be headed for its extinction. So sisters, understand this and do follow the given instructions:

Remember, you are too weak to save yourself (from us). You are supposed to be under the protection and at the beck and call of your husband, father, brother or son. We will take good care of you if you are willing to limit yourselves within the constraints of your house. Your desires (food, sex, kids, clothes and ornaments) will all be meted out. Never interfere in our affairs or question our deeds. Never ever demand a trip to the dirty world outside where we will be busy teaching those immoral ones some valuable lessons.

 Note: In spite of all these precautions if someone assaults you, chant this mantra: Brother, please let me go. He will immediately melt (thinking of his sister) and comply with your request.

 

 

First-borns – Guinea Pigs?


Yesterday my first-born turned ten. And we (claim to have) successfully completed ten years of parenthood.

Has she been lucky or unlucky? In my opinion, for her it has been a combination of both.

How is she lucky? Usually the elder ones are the centres of attraction; they get all (or too much?) the attention from the parents and from the relatives too, if they are the first ones in a generation. They enjoy a lot of privileges – too many toys, dresses and other accessories. In fact it was we who were celebrating our new designations as papa and mama! Every achievement or turning point in the eldest ones’ lives is exaggerated and celebrated with all the pomp and vigour.

When it comes to the second one, the excitement would be slightly less. The parents have already been there and for them it is merely a repetition of the first episode. But sadly they are too busy to remember it’s the very first time for each of the younger ones. Being the second-born I have been through it all. (Eldest ones out there, I can read your thoughts.)

And there are a lot of health benefits too. They will be made of healthier and better components of life. The later ones are born to older and more tired parents.

[The given link will enlighten you more on the topic of birth order.]

But here I am more bothered about the seamy side of the first-borns’ lives. For the naive parents it is a time to experiment upon a hundred new things, certainly out of their love and eagerness. I must admit that bringing up my big girl I have committed a lot of parenting errors, mainly in the two crucial areas – health and education.

As tyros in that new phase of life we were naturally over-concerned about each and every aspect, especially her health. We surmised that every sneeze, cough or runny nose would end up in pneumonia, and rushed to the doctor who was only too eager to administer heavy doses of antibiotics. The recurrence of the ailments taught us some valuable lessons equipping us better for the second one. It made me bold and taught me how to resist temptation to grab the medicines each time.

And the second most fatal mistake I committed was the over-enthusiasm about her studies. When she got confused with P, b, d and 9, or when she flipped over certain letters, (at the age of three!) we often freaked out as if she was going to be doomed. When she could not discern the basic differences between numbers and letters, faltering at the questions like “Which is bigger – 2 or 7?” we seemed to be anxious about the Board after ‘12’ years!!  While we were passionately carrying out our duties, for her it must have been hell!

After her last PT meet (grade 5) as I was proudly looking at the 100% score in her Maths paper, I once again realized the benefits of intruding less and leaving everything to her. It was the fruit of her own hard work.

At times my younger one has to be satisfied with the used toys and dresses. However she enjoys a happier and more carefree childhood – only because her parents’ attention is divided and she has an elder sister who was already ‘guinea pig’ged!

Happy birthday dear! Thank you for all the great lessons you taught me in a decade’s time…

Creativity


Have a look at these snaps from our Creativity Day 2012.

If there is a will there is a tree. There had been excruciating incidents (saved for another post) behind this artificially natural tree. Thank you dear teachers, for your determination which made the dead branch take ‘life’, finally!

Ozone layer. A simple, yet demonstrative exhibit from the science stall.

Our students are experts at Mehendi. Their dexterity will amaze you.

Best out of waste. One of my favourite pieces from the competition.

Origami! This was made by a grade 7 student within an hour’s time.

The student used about 150 paper cups to make this party light. Loved it!

Just that much for the time being. Looking forward to the holidays, to tell you more about the life here and to catch up with all the great posts I missed. Take care!

They don’t love me…


The misery of a century reflected
On her pale, scared face
When she said, “They don’t love me.”

And thus goes her story:
“I wash my clothes,
I make my food,
I help my mother
I am big enough
And know my duties.
I try to study well,
I am not naughty,
I never tell lies,
I obey my parents,
But they don’t love me,
I don’t know why!”

No dear, they love you.
(She had no evidence to believe so.)

I am not their child
Even yesterday my mother told me
“You were bought from the market
For five bucks.”
She repeatedly tells me,
“Go get yourself run over by some vehicle
You bitch, you wretched creature.
You were not born to me!”

She used to fry fish for me
Nowadays she does that only for my brother.
She flogs me with a hanger,
Burns my skin,
Curses me daylong,
Sometimes makes me sleep in the kitchen.”

But why? WHY?

I sometimes get poor marks.

So study well.

But last day I got 10 on 10
Then she said, ‘You cheated.’

What about your father, dear?

When he returns from work
Mother reports my performance
And he ‘whips’ his share
Using his belt!

I don’t want the school to be over
I can’t think of going home
I prefer week days to weekends!

She was just nine.
She was the only daughter.
They were her biological parents.

Then why……?
I have no answer,
Neither did they.

Interventions helped.
Realizations,
Remorse,
Penance,
Reconciliation.

Happy ending.
Hope it lasts.

Dear teachers,

If any one of your students is often found unusually gloomy or naughty, take him/her aside for a little heart-to-heart talk. She may be a victim of child abuse. And you can be of some help.

(100% true story from the city where I live. She is just as old as my girl, whom you see in the picture.)

I am not going to school.


(Adapted from a kid’s thought-diary, after her first day at school)

My sister is responsible. She, who lured me into the idea of going to school, seemed to enjoy a lot of privileges: a special dress called uniform, a large bag full of books, pencils and even coloured pencils, the freedom to use them anywhere according to her whims… School must be a wonderful place – that was the impression I was drawn into seeing her deeds and expressions. Oh, my God what a trap it was!

I had been eagerly waiting for the day on which I too would go to the magical place called school, like my sister.

The initial stages went on well. A new bag, a few colourful books and other stationery, lunch box – the day papa bought them just for me, I strutted around for my sister to see. (Pride goes before a fall!)

I had made two conditions to my parents about going to school. 1) I wanted to go to school in a bus. 2) My sister should be teaching me. In reality: I was made to walk to the school in the neighbourhood. And my sister was nowhere around!

Rest of my dreams got shattered, one after the other, the minute I stepped into the premises of the dull building. It didn’t take me much time to surmise that ‘school is an eccentric place not at all suitable for people like me!’ You too would agree if you consider the following facts about the place:

  • There are so many rooms but I am always asked to go to the same room. Wonder why I am denied the freedom to explore the other spaces! The rooms are all arranged in rows – looks really childish.
  • Throughout the day I have to be glued on to the same chair. You might know, at home I have never remained in the same spot continuously for more than two minutes.
  • The most awful part is the character called ‘teacher’. Her words are all Greek to me. Surely she can speak like my mother, but for  reasons unknown she abstains from that. If I stare into her eyes bewildered, she will repeat the same sounds, more loudly the second time. Stupid lady. Does she think I am deaf? The whole day she indulges in similar meaningless deeds.
  • I should write on the pages, and on the lines, and the way she prefers! At home I could even write on the walls (though my mother makes faces about it).
  • A lot of other children in the class scream their head off in the midst of their struggle to escape from that dreadful place. I don’t understand why they need to make so much fuss about it. Silly people! I have better plans. ;)
  • We usually eat when we feel hungry, right? However school has indigestible rules about that too. I should eat when I am not hungry, and when I really yearn for some food I have to remain hungry.
  • To ‘shooshoo’ I should make some funny signal to the teacher. (Don’t know why at school I felt the urge often. Yeah, honestly.) The teacher would then send me to a horrible aunty who does not seem happy to take the children to the toilet.

More such oddities are there.

Anyway, I have had enough. After a day at school I have picked up my first lessons in life:

  • Life, Reality – both are bitter!
  • There is no place like home!

So, I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL, come what may!

(Hope school won’t blow out the enthusiasm of our little ones.)

Editing Nostalgia


How do you make use of your past, I mean, your distant past whose wounds are long cauterised?

We merrily let ourselves stray to the (so-claimed) picture-perfect days of our distant past, only to dwell upon the deterioration of modern times. How many of you could solemnly assert that, in every sense your past outshines your present?

Some recent insights have gainsaid a few of my long-cherished convictions, the most striking one being those about my school life.

It’s true that my school used to obsess my thoughts as a green pasture. But ask me what I enjoyed there, and you find me groping for words. All I could dig up is hardly a handful of such jolly instances juxtaposed with a longer list of scathing or scary ones!

No resentment. No plans to pay back. Because if things went wrong for me they were merely the reflections of my attitude – years later I am mature enough to say so. Now looking at the educational system from a teacher’s standpoint, it is quite lucid why the abilities of timid students are rarely ferreted out and thereby go unsung, especially when they have no feathers of academic excellence to sport on their mortar boards. I was one of those few diffident lads later doomed to repeatedly chant “If I had been more …

Then why all the hoodwinking, while reality has always been plain as day?

This is how my conscience puts it across. “You feared getting stamped and sidelined as the black sheep when it is customary to exalt school life. The easy way out was to feign a happy teenager and keep on crooning: Oh, how I wish to be a school girl once again!”

  • Nostalgia is an emotional state in which an individual yearns for an idealized or sanitized version of an earlier time period.

That well expounds it. We idealize or sanitize our past. Communication experts term it Selective Retention. We retain only what makes us happy while we connive at the bitter ones. When the present turns grim, our conscience turns to the past for solace.

But what if both past and present are equally despicable? Patch up the past, and tag it ‘nostalgia’. If you can make yourself fanatically believe in your renovated past, you are nostalgically happy. Cool!

  • Nostalgia is excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Nostalgia is the haven of the ‘excessively sentimental.’ Note that it is far from reality as it is just a yearning for something lost forever.

Even history has  repeatedly been subject to this sanitising process. So I can excuse myself, a ‘nobody’, for that fib about my school life.

What about the other places/persons in my nostalgia-list? Scrap them too?

Thank God I was not so ill-starred to go to that extent. I would rather accept my past with all its lapses, than laud them to utopian levels. We and our lives have never been perfect, so why should we strive to sanitize our past or feed ourselves on lies when that won’t, in the least, improve our present?

A wounded soul returning for revenge – that’s just fiction, I believe. The past won’t/can’t hurt forever.

Learn that nostalgia is a “sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present” (Sydney Smith).

I am not old, and I have proved it. What about you?