Previous- Scars of early Mishaps- I
Nursery standard was in Swasthya Vihar Branch. Often I would cry in class and Mrs. Mehta- the music teacher would scare me with the harmonium reeds to make me quiet. Often she would make us do a snake dance with hands held up high over the head and wave as an elephant would wave his trunk. By the time we would get the act right, our tiny limbs would have started aching. I would often wonder when this whole episode would last till. A classmate who sat behind my seat tried to scare me for a small piece of chocolate. Mom had advised me against carrying that darn piece of bar to school. “If you don’t share the chocolate with me, I would ride my bike on you when I grow up..!”, he said. “Well, you need to grow up 1st”, said I and soiled my teeth brown with the cocoa bar while he watched me empty the 5star wrapper.
I was transferred to G.T. Road branch in K.G. to Mrs. Malhotras section. She was a very fair woman, hair always tied up in bun; I once in fit of amusement dared to open her bun up.. Of she scolded me and had demanded an explanation. I offered the actual mind behind that act; she pardoned me saying that such things should not be done to the teachers. Our Music Teacher Mr. Lal was visually impaired & would do everything to make our class laugh out loud. As I write here, I wonder how someone already fighting a cruel battle be so brave! I would stare at him as he would check his time on his watch with his fingers. I would often help him escort that he so refused to and didn’t need too but would give in. We would be punished right before recess; we were the noisiest class of the branch. Everytime, I would cleverly say sorry as the recess Bell would go and sit down to have my food while all others would stand on the bench with their hands up till madam would herself give in.
This was in Kalyanvas flat. I would sit by the main door and nibble on an apple. Mom had tried wearing a salwaar suit; dad had as usual had expressed complete disapproval. I had told her- she looked good and is more intrend, so not drape saree at home. It was pastel orange, pink and green stripes separated with a shining silver thread material. This is where my Uncle once hit me because dad had thrown a tantrum.
I had participated in Awards Distribution day. It is so live and vivid in my mind as if it happened only yesterday. Mrs. Mehta had asked me to go with her the final day of rehearsal. I had told mom that she need not worry since everything would be arranged by the “madams”. Don’t remember of what we rehearsed. The following day, Pompa, a friend and a distant neighbor also a Bong was dressed as Saraswati. I had been one ardent Devotee. All I was to do was to sit right in the front on the stage and sway with the song. Dad had attended that 1st appearance of his oh so talented daughter. Every time I looked at him, he would widen his eyeballs as if to tell me to concentrate on my act. Mom could not make it, she didn’t keep well is all I knew. We were given some golden yellow satin pajama dress, artificial pearl strings and jewellery; some rich devotee I was. I had wanted a red color when my lips were painted brown. It tasted good and had licked it good. The teacher trying to manage that room full of tots declared- no touch-ups 😦 , I requested her to apply it just 1 more time since she made that declaration later to my act!! I had to and changed hurriedly back to school dress after the Opening Vandana.
I had to rush back to collect my Prize; my teacher kept reminding me that I better not forget to wish the distributor. I think he may have been the founder of our school- maybe, don’t recall really. Was I anyways supposed to care? I stood 1st in class through all sections and 3rd in Drawing. I was more exited with the happenings and the rush due to it. The 2 trophies that I perched were more than I could care for. My name was called twice and the parents cheered louder the 2nd time. When reached home with only 1 refreshment Box, mom had teased that why I didn’t get mine- but did I care?
Often in the evening my dad would do a Violin duet with either Samanta on Tabla or (maybe) Pompas father. Dad played violin, Samanta- yes, Tabla not very sure of; never saw mom joining with her Sitar though. Dad sat me to learn Hindi Alphabets and we were at the 1st vowel alphabet “A” in Hindi. Boy, I didn’t take the curve high up of the alphabet- but it was much legible and neat and he simply tore my entire notebook and flung the papers in the room. He would record songs on our Sony Recorder, so would mom her recitation. “Tomar Pother Theke Aunek Doore, gaichhe Benke, Gaiche Benke Aamar Aie Poth”.
“From your path of Trail, very far off; has gone curved, has gone twisted my this trail of path..” I wish he had never recorded that number. It s a melodious Rabindra sangeet number originally sung by the Legendary Hemant Kumar. Apparently, in years to come by, this is exactly what has become of him and me. I used to fool around with him the moment he would step in from work. Would sleep in the same bed; Mom on ground in the next room, uncle on the folding bed in the same room. Both the rooms were connected with no door and perhaps an opening in the common wall too. Mom would try to coax me to sleep with her. Once that she tried; I and dad sat awake the whole night. Here I am now- neither with dad nor with mom and I have to sleep and eat and live all by myself. Samanta isn’t around too.
“Dad, don’t you live sleepless nights anymore?”
“I do; not because I miss you but because of your having gone missing..” Your path indeed has gotten bent from that of mine. A tad Very much..
There was this Mrs. Robertson too – don’t recall what she taught then but remember of how she used to fix her hairband. Much later in 7th standard, she was transferred to our Branch to teach English and also maybe to make me shift my school. There was also this severed obsessed Pinky Pujari.. Was she a lesbian? The acts she did sitting next to me now suggests she may have been or maybe only curious; only she was way too curious then. But then, wasn’t she too young to express her choice about sexuality? Is this how kids are? I would not know, I was the only child. I would study hard after coming home from school. I didn’t interact much with anyone.
From GT Road , I was again shifted to the Vivek Vihar branch. I was falling sick practically everyday because of the distance and hence the change. Bimal Narang would sometime try and talk about the “basic difference” between a boy and a girl with “example”; I told him that I would report to madam the next time de did so. He stopped. Mrs. K. K. Sharma just told me to do whatever I so wished to because I could not figure out how to write on that printed sheet of paper. Hindi Dictation it was, and there were some lines drawn on that paper. I chose to write on the blank area.
Maybe that has a lot to do with my choice of not walking the tried and tested (or failed path). I have always been creating a way for myself out of nothing. Bimal Narang and one other guy would get all the attention because they could dance on the latest “Yamma Yamma”- a very popular Amtabh Bachchan number. The other kid then left the school so don’t remember his name. Teachers would gladly keep a bite for themselves anytime a student would ask them to cut open the chocolate wrapper- wonder why?
We shifted to Dilshad Garden after this.
In 1st standard, Ms. Sangeeta Saini happened to be my class teacher later on to become Mrs. Bansal. She was very beautiful, dusky, trim & tall. Everyday that she would come to class in her saree with matching high heels, I would sit to stare her in awe. At times, she would get a soft drink for herself and crush the ice on her own wrapped in her hanky, sometime she would apply a handcreme. I had picked up a habit of biting nails; she didn’t, she must have sometime peeled a dried up dead skin, I imitated her and made it a habit. Mom had to go to PT meeting and explain it to her!! How naughty!! Of me..
I had studied very hard. My bench mates were Pooja Goyal and Himanshu Jain. The latter name would take up spaces in many Blogs to come. His hands were fractured and the twisted elbow bone showed when he held his hand out. I could not appear for the Annual Exams because of my pupils were dilated for Medical Tests. I wore glasses since I was 2-1/2 years old. I was strictly told to be away from kids lest they pull the same and break it. I was yet promoted to the 2nd standard because I qualified to; I had scored well in the 1st and 2nd Terminal Tests. Though my parents pushed to get me to 4thstandard and teachers agreed onto it; didn’t happen as the Double Promotion didn’t happen anymore as per the new Rulings.
Ms. Saini (she was Mrs. Bansal by then but I love addressing her that) helped me by drawing the hut outlining. When dad asked in PT Meeting why I hadn’t drawn the door and windows; I answered that because they were looking at it from the backside 😀 . Actually I couldn’t see with the dilated pupils, so couldn’t complete it L. I also happen to celebrate my birthday in school that year but didn’t wear civil dress; wore the uniform only (sad). There was this Poem I recall; even though I liked the 1st part, I seem to have forgotten it now:
Happy Little Rain Drops
Falling from the Sky
Happy Little Rain Drops
Falling at our feet
We can hear you Singing
Down the Busy street
Mrs. Sudha Seth taught us Hindi. Mrs. Malhotra was transferred to this branch. Not knowing the answer and thinking of “know” to be “no”, I raised my hand when the Social Studies teacher asked- “who knows the answer?” How Cute..
2nd standard was the last year of drawing subject and I had already started to feel sad. Domestic Science would take its place or girls. What a discrimination and cruelty- I had thought. I would break into fits every now and then and pass out during morning prayers. My class Teacher Mrs. Madan would carry me to the Medical Room. I would throw up in an unconscious condition and then would run a temperature. I was not top attend Assemblies anymore, sit in my classroom with head down; would only stand around or sit at the edge in PT classes that too if that was within the school building corridor area. Going to the school ground unescorted was just not to happen. I would not wear a tie anymore. I would carry one with me and wear it only till the function would last if I was to participate in School Uniform. This was after 4th standard.
3rd standard was the last session when Music Period appeared on the Time Table; it was to be excluded from the next year.. I was already a mini celebrity. Stood in Academic Sessions, was awarded Grades every year for maintaining my note books, my handwriting was good, and didn’t fight with anyone. Mrs. Berry got offended one day because I had prepared her sketch; my parents explained in parents teachers’ meeting that I loved to do so and was not at all upto a mock. Pooja Goyal had reported it to the madam; but I was seriously trying to outline her on my copy. She was my bench mate and would eat groundnuts with the peels, the whole of pencil and also used to cut herself with blades everywhere (eeau!!) After Pinky, Pooja..
In my school, I was becoming the Icon what they call it as now.
I had gone to the Music Room and said that I wanted to sing. The seniors looked at me and smiled. I was in 4th, wore glasses & looked like a close version of Betty maybe!! I dint wear braces and Betty is not Ugly. Ravi sir nodded and asked me to sing something. While walking down the school building corridor, I had heard them rehearse for some “Shabad” (Devotional songs sung by Surds); I learnt the terminology later though. “Gurmukh Kal vich pargat hoya..” I asked if I could sing what I had heard & he nodded again. I sang whatever few lines I had heard them sing. The seniors took me in their team with loads of affection and cheered me up even before the teacher acknowledged. Sir had only nodded again. He asked me to go back to my classroom and inform my teacher that I was to come for Music Rehersal everyday in 0 period starting the same day. Thereon, I had become the Chorus Girl, sang on the “Guruparv” day- the same Shabad and went on to sing and participate in all and any cultural and extra curricular event that happened. I would sing in the School Assembly. The seniors would push me right in front and would never bully me. One of them I recall being Gautam Sikka. He would keep joking with the “didis” and I would wonder what in the name of… I was observing the nuances of- teenage flirting? I would keep telling myself that this was to happen to me too after 3 years, so I don’t need to judge them! How so nice a little girl was I.
There were trips to Calcutta, Mussoorie and Shimla. Calcutta trip that was a family affair would take its space in another Blog. The pic is a snap dad clicked in Mussoorie; an office tour- trip arranged by NTC.
Our Family of four, stayed in Dilshad Garden for a pretty long period in B block; shifted the house many a times though. This was in the year 1987 when my dad in pursuance of Mr. Shambhu Prasad, who worked with him in NTC shifted to a remote Pocket in Dilshad Garden, J&K to be precise. It was still under development. I was in 5th standard. We could barely manage to stay there. The water problem was acute. We had to get it from the Ground Floor; we lived on 3rd floor. I was in 5th, my mother was a crippled woman in terms of physical ability & both men went out in the morning for work. To end the agony, my Uncle searched for a Ground Floor accommodation back in our pet B- Block.
My Life was changing; faster than earlier.
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