The one thing I despise the most is cleaning my shelf. Puff of smoke that emulates when their habitat is disturbed and the sickening smell of rotten bugs give me a sickening feel. I was standing before my age old wardrobe that never lost its sheen despite its cacophonous music at its hinges. Left with a Hobson’s choice, I was prepared for my battle. A small white cloth across my face making me a perfect cast for age old Jayshankar movies. At the recess of my book point, a small book glimmered despite laden by a continuous layer of dust. At closer examination, the crest embedded on its cover lay majestically. The emblem of my school and it was my school diary with a simple motto- LIFE AND LIGHT. The sight of my school souvenir brought back my numb senses alive and soon I was flickering through the muddy pages of my diary.
The pages had more remarks in red than my scribbled handwriting. Words like ‘Mid Term, Quarterly Half yearly exams, Report cards’ echoed my nightmares of my school days, which I badly missed now. Before I could linger my thoughts in that, I stumbled onto the page that brought back my wombs of my memory lane. It was the timetable of my 5th grade starting from Monday to Friday. A smile spread across my face, when I thought about the mornings after our brief vacation.
“The moment that I loathe the most is Monday morning! My bed sheet is over me wrapped like a cocoon while I try to gaze at the beautiful designs which appear like stars in a cloudless sky. The cries of my mom asking me to get ready while the hot water steams in the geyser.
Impeccably dressed in a white and navy blue uniform with my hair neatly groomed and a perfectly drawn viboodhi on my forehead. I was sitting in my usual place near Subramaniam, who always stood first in my class. Toppers were seated next to mediocre students in order to help them, so that’s how I earned my spot. I never fell in the list of top 20 or the list of last 10, but in a group that is good for nothing. The group that always needed a beating to push on.
To make matters worse, it was our first after our holidays that too it started on a Monday morning. Most of the students were silent owing to the fact that, we are likely to receive our answer papers of the Quarterly exams. I was mumbling my prayers while my friends let out a silent laughter making a mockery. Two friends of mine were prying near the door’s entrance trying to catch the glimpse of horror.
Our Science Miss was never a horror but the big bundle of papers with twines entangled definitely wasn’t a pleasing sight. The two guys came running inside shouting, “papers!!! Miss has papers!!!”
The word papers made me sit upright, bringing my prayers to a sudden halt. Her strides were long and swift in reaching the dais. Once the bundle was laid in the table, she turned to face us with her traditional smile. “Students, this time my correction has been very lenient and I have awarded marks quite liberally. So I don’t want anyone standing near me begging for some more marks. Do I make myself clear?” I know this was a usual dialogue that every teacher iterates every now and then. She was no exception and joined every other in shouting “Yessss Misss!!!”
She began calling out our roll nos. to distribute the papers and to my horror the papers weren’t in order. Whenever a roll no. slipped from her lips, my heart came to my mouth. Within couple of minutes, I knew I had to take a leak with my contents of my stomach doing all acrobatics. All the drama came to an end when my turn came and my marks hanging in thin air- 71 !!!
I was tad disappointed that I couldn’t make it above 75, but still my mood wasn’t sober. By now Subramanian was eying my marks.
“You made 71! (With his eyes all set to bulge out from his sockets!) Good! I made only 86! If at all she awarded full marks for my long answer, I would ve touched 90 !!”
I was looking for a perfect reply for Subramanian and I found one, “I don’t think she's mean, she has given full marks to me for that long answer! The diagram of yours doesn’t come close to a round bottom flask; it’s more of an elongated test tube”
I know I ve added more fuel to his burning rage, he was fuming and staring at his so called round bottom flask,
“She can’t do this to me, I m going to ask her about this” he shoved me aside, moving furiously with the answer paper clutched in his arms. “ Misss !!! Miss!! You haven’t given me full mar…..”
That smile never died when my school events unfolded before my eyes. Dust and bugs too joined me in this nostalgia. I was prepared to continue this crusade with more allergenic storms for company, leaving me with my 3rd grade report grade.
Thank you all for joining me in my journey. If I was able to kindle your memoirs of your school days with a drop a tear ebbing your eyes, please share those etched moments.