Monday, November 03, 2014

Small treasures

I found my six year old self in a box while rearranging all the junk and the not junk in my numerous boxes. There are very few pictures of me as a child so all my memories are mostly borrowed from my mother and some from my father. I cut this one out from my 1st grade class picture. I can remember only two other pictures of me when I was five taken in a studio and I'm not smiling in either of them however there's a picture of me as a six month old in which you can see a mostly toothless baby grin. I studied in this school called St. Thomas for three years- Nursery, KG and 1st grade. It was an English medium school and I remember struggling with spellings and mostly failing at everything. My mother who studied in Hindi medium throughout would help me with a Hindi to English dictionary. I still have a clear memory of her holding my little hand and making me do cursive writing. She helped me with my homework with the dictionary and my books spread all over the razai in the cold winter months. The principal was a huge bearded man with a christian name. He would twist and pull my ear every time I got a spelling wrong during dictation and I would cry without making a sound. My mother also recalls that I would cry with big tears without making a sound in particular the three times my head was shaved and I saw the hair fall away in the barber's mirror. My mother thought I didn't have enough hair on my head as a child so she would have it shaved off and then massage it with an egg. Imagine being bald and smelly, no wonder I cried silent tears. Even today I'm very good at crying without making a sound. Just a little sniff here and there.

As I said I remember my first report card and I had an F in everything. They promoted me anyway because I was 'such a beautiful child' or so my mother tells me. My clearest memory is each afternoon we would stand and say a prayer and be out of the door before we could say 'Amen'. One afternoon something happened to the principal of the school. He started banging his foot on the ground and it seemed he was having some kind of seizure. I'm not sure what it was, all I remember is being relieved and happy that we were all going to be packed off on rickshaws and sent home.

I'll share one last memory which is again borrowed from my mother. One day I didn't come home and my mother was frantic. The police were informed and a rickshaw with a loudspeaker was dispatched which announced my name and description. I had decided to take my friend's rickshaw and gone to play at her place without realising how miserable my mother would be for those hours she didn't know where I was. The thing is this friend said she had a blackboard in her house and I went with her to draw on it. It was such a novelty to have a blackboard in one's house. Anyway I was finally found enjoying every minute of doodling on a blackboard and all was well again in my mother's world. I don't remember her scolding me. May be she couldn't bear the thought of silent baby tears or may be she was just relieved to have me back in her arms.

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