i am a school girl again in a dark blue uniform with white and blue striped tie and belt. Back to the noisy classroom where boys sat on one side on broad benches with desks and girls sat on the other in pairs (girls being fewer in number). i remember some clear and some vague faces. i do not have any photos of the time so memories are all i have to rely upon. The brighter students sat in the front. So Prashant sat with Venu, Srinivas and others in the front rows. i sat in the first row with the girls - one other girl next to me, actually- called Shubha. Her sister Shobha was in the same class. And there were a couple of mean boys - Dharmendra and Nand Kumar. There are so many names and faces preserved deep down in the mind. All the girls and the mean boys also!
When i look back 20 yrs ago when I finished class 7, it’s an exciting journey down the memory lane. Walking to school everyday since that was the way of life (Oh God! I sound like I am about 60 yrs old!!). Carrying school bags and a basket with lunch and water bottle. Every student carried that and we put them all together either in the front of the class or at the back, if the classroom was small. The front baskets would have a thick layer of chalk piece dust by lunch time with all the writing in the first half of the session. At lunch time we would all line up in the space outside the classroom. The group of boys and girls i was close to would sit next to each other in groups. In fact, Prashant would fight for a particular corner he wanted to sit in everyday at lunch! The upma that Shobha’s mum used to make was so awesome that we would exchange our tiffin boxes on the days she brought it. Yes! Exchanging the tiffin box was a concept as opposed to one bite we used to share with everyone in the group everyday. i still remember one bite size portions lined up on the lid of our tiffins. In case someone brought something that you don’t eat, you wouldn’t take that on that day.
Truly the time before any cares in life began, it was just stupid competition for the first rank. As if it even matters today! But that’s what made life worthwhile then. Another thing was the wait for the final bell to ring by when every one would have already packed their bags. And the boys would have to be literally held back to stop them from pouring out of the class before the bell. Sometimes students used to go out to ring the bell - a task i didn’t enjoy much. The sound of the iron rod striking the metal surface was too strident on the ear when standing so close! Thankfully boys were asked to do that mostly - manly job perhaps - when the aaya wasn’t around!
And then we had a whole lot of stalls outside the school to buy tit-bits and consume on our way home. Mango slices, lolly candy, gooseberries and other stuff i do not remember. It was pricey in the light of the money we had. There were not so expensive things and the more luxury items. Like the lolly candy cost a whole rupee while a slice of mango could be had for 25 paise. And we couldn’t even afford to buy stuff everyday!
And once we went home, there was no way to contact classmates but walk up to the homes of the ones who lived nearby. Usually to exchange notes, know the homework if you missed school. Simpler times!!
i do remember so many of my classmates through all years of school and always wondered where they would be now after nearly 2 decades. But worldwide web to the rescue! Facebook and Linkedin helped find 3 such people from that golden era of life! They are like whole new individuals than when they were 11! Successful entrepreneurs, managers now - but the conversation and chemistry continues as if we met juts yesterday! Ture - the bonds we form as kids are much stronger than the ones we make through the cautious and prejudiced worldview of adulthood!
i know all the others also somewhere out there in the world! Till i find them and they become a part of my world again….