Honestly, If your kid was allergic to food (not a medical condition but one for which remedy comes in the form of application of well-oiled cane to the bare bottom. Should leave a red mark for maximum effect.) and resembles a wriggly earthworm, what will you do? Amma gracefully accepted the truth about me, at three years I was grossly underweight. With my uncanny sense of balance and flight, she decided not to put me in school and wait for another year. Much to my annoyance, against the will of a four year old, I was put into UKG. (Put. Like I was picked and dropped in to a jar of candies)
People of God’s own country; we trust our lives with Autos. Auto Rickshaw. The three-wheeled jet planes of my land with their yellow and black bodies, reminding me of honeybees, how I miss them! For mango people or aam admi, it is their means of transport albeit at times termed a luxury.
Amma still thinks “catching” an auto should happen only when you are sick, a senior citizen or you have purchased 10 Kg of rice. (I do not try to change her. I like it when she tries to teach me the value of money). So it was not surprising when Amma arranged for an auto to take me to school.
My auto chettan* was a very nice person**. He always used to get me the side seat and at times, I did get to sit with him, right in the front. All this would happen later. This story is not about all that. This is about my first day at school.
No, I do not remember particularly the very first auto journey to school. Nevertheless, I clearly remember Amma in her black sari with red and green dots, my tiny cousin in hand waving a bye.
My school, it is a small one with only KG sections, a big playground and a stream behind it. Picturesque eh? However, between the stream and the playground is a huge wall that reminds one of the central jail walls. The constant gush of water and occasional glimpses from the top of the slides were the only proofs of the stream running by.
Anyways on this eventful day, my auto chettan put me into a class the end of the corridor. There were a lot of tiny tots like me. Some crying, some pulling and pushing one another and some like me, sitting as if we were going through a trauma. In short, utter chaos reigned the realm. I sometimes wonder how KG teachers maintain their sanity on such days or for that matter any school day!
The only person I knew was Vishalam teacher who was supposed to be my class teacher. I was a bit upset that she had not even turned up to meet us. I hoped she would come and give us sweets. She had given me two “mango bite” the day of admission.
After lunch, much to my chagrin and many others we were asked to lie down and sleep. While many slept, some naughty ones crawled around pulling shoes off the feet off the blissfully sleeping ones and hiding them. The restless child in me kept tossing around; watching the leaves moving with the breeze. I was bored lying on my back so I thought of lying down on my stomach.
That is when I saw her, Vishalam Teacher, in a white nylon sari with violet flowers. For me she was the most beautiful woman on earth after Amma. I called out, "Teacherrrrrrrrrrrrrr" I ran towards her, waking up a lot of fellow classmates. She took me by my arms and gave me a warm smile, which still melts me as I think of it.
She put me down and turned around to other fellow teachers. Here comes the revelation about the mystery of the missing teacher.” I was searching for this girl from morning. She is supposed to be in my class, UKG A. Wonder who put her in LKG. Is that you Mary, who did it? "
Mary Teacher feigned a mock anger,"Oh come on as if I snatched away her. You keep your little girl.”
Vishalam Teacher smiled, running her fingers through my hair,” I guess the auto driver messed up."
I moved to UKG -"A" without much fuss. If Vishalam teacher had not come that way, I am sure I would have continued to sit in LKG until someone notified Amma about my absence in “UKG-A”. To date, it remains an enigma why my auto chettan put me in LKG.Probably he felt I was too small to be in school and put me in the lowest possible class owing to my well-fed-grown-up look those days...
*chettan: elder brother, bhaiyya
**Apparently, Last time I went home I met him. I was packing off one of little cousins to school. Guess, which auto uncle he was entrusted with?
TRIVIA: This was posted in a blog, which I owned in my poorvashram (So do not be surprised if you find this post elsewhere. It is just me in another avatar).I did edit the blog before reuse.Yet another blog in the blogosphere, it is non-existent. Only I know of its existence. Right now, it is my very own treasure trove of lost scribbling, from which I will pick stories at leisure when I run into a bloggers block.