My heart beaming with pride, let me declare my latest possession : a T-Shirt with its tag line screaming bold and clear to everyone who cares: Growing old is mandatory , growing up is NOT. [ \m/ ]
I want to go back to where it all started. For all of us. In a school. Unlike the more stressed kids of today, I’m guessing you directly went to Kindergarten, not pre-nursery or pre-pre-nursery. LKG and UKG, it was. Colourful clothes with a hanky carefully folded diagonally and pinned to the left pocket of the shirt/frock. Waterbottles dangling around the neck as we hopped along to school, gingerly holding the hand of our darling caretaker. And tiny bags having even tinier lunch boxes!
One more thing I’m guessing will apply to most of us : being ever energetic to go to school --- a feeling that lasted only until its gates. There, it would be a 5 minute ritual to cling to mummy and try blackmailing her to not leave her precious tot alone for those never-ending two hours. Who knows, maybe a super big Jerry would kidnap me and take me away to the mousehole! Would she risk being left all alone in this big bad world without her tiny superman or powerpuff girl?
Once the journey started, it was a roll. From nursery, to the actual school. The smell of freshly covered notebooks and the sound of chalk crackling on the wooden blackboard as we stood, nervous 5 year old students. With seasons, the activities changed. Nevertheless, it was fun all throughout. From PT in the grounds during summer [which took up almost 60% of our school time, a luxury which was taken away as we progressed to highschool], it shifted to lying on the carpet in the classrooms and telling exciting stories to the teacher during monsoon.
Oh ya, a famous fact: Having a friend in the “secondary classes” immediately got you celebrity-level popularity. A sister who had money to buy you something from the canteen or a big brother who’d rough up anyone who bullied you. And with this latter thing came the realisation that everyone is equally likely to get punished for being mischievous in school, how much ever of a mummy’s baby they were at home.
Schools are synonymous with FRIENDS! And their –ships. These were the people who were our benchmates; with whom we shared jokes in the class, sitting in the last bench, or rushed through notes before a test or cheered for the House matches and competitions or played pranks on fellow classmates. These were the people with whom we spent literally half of our waking hours back then.
Since its a package deal, we also found that schools are synonymous with TEACHERS - The 'elders' at school who could see through us however tough we wrinkled our little faces, as clean as a beam of light through clear water. [ Oh, those years of innocence! ]. And EXAMINATIONS - those things that haunted us and, much to our distaste, revealed what we didn't want to know -- like a litmus paper going red.
Things have changed so much since the time when we sincerely and obediently hung onto every word of the teacher, did every little bit of homework and came to school in ‘complete and correct’ uniform. Remember that day when you spent two whole hours shopping for your very first pen? Or your birthday when you sparkled in an angelic frock with frills all around? I remember it all; as sweetly as sugar, with a nostalgia that feels like the comforting breeze of spring. Even the day I welcomed my brother to the youngest class, myself already being a so-called senior in 8th standard.
Of course, I still enjoy multi-course, multi-cuisine lunches with friends and I do submit assignments, albeit hurriedly done in the last moment. We connect over facebook and can spend hours chit-chatting about anything under the sun. Still, we wouldn’t ever trade the memories we have had within the gates of primary school. That building which has contributed, in whatever concentration, in making us what we are.
Now let me ask you, have you ever questioned yourself why you went to a school in the first place? Why take the trouble of going through rigorous discipline where everything new you learnt had already been discovered by someone else?
That’s because a school is where all the above mentioned ingredients came together and after mixing them carefully, in all the right proportions, for over 10 years, we, the next generation, were created. As potent as wine. Ready to fire away as soon as unleashed to etch a place in the world. Our name, our identity.
This journey through a blessed childhood and schooling empowered us to make a difference. To create amongst ourselves more Ramanujans, Tendulkars and Saina Nehwals. More Lata Mangeshkars, Shahrukh Khans and Tarun Tahilianis. More Ambanis, Sunita Williams and Vishwanathan Anands.
Not such a bad deal after all, don't you think?