Lost

First days of school

Lost
First days in school
The new school in the big city that Boy had joined was very grand, with a huge building, sprawling grounds, strict discipline, and huge classes with almost fifty children, an Irish principal and Anglo Indian teachers. Teaching was exclusively in English, and speaking the vernacular was strictly forbidden. The boy was completely lost.
After being dropped off in the morning, the first challenge was finding the assembly hall, and then finding the spot for his class and section. After that he could just follow the group and hope for the best.
In assembly, the white man in a white gown droned something, and then a dark guy in a white gown barked something, and finally everyone shut their eyes and roared something in a sing song.Boy understood the “Our Father”, and thought of his father; then “Daily bread”, which reminded him of his packed lunch, which, daily, was bread and butter, which he hated; and finally, “Amen”, which meant that they could open their eyes and start shuffling off, in formation, following the teacher, to their classrooms. The rest was gibberish to him.
Class was not much different. The lady would say things, and write stuff on a blackboard, and point at charts and pictures; but what it was all about was lost on Boy.
He would follow the example of his classmates and take out random books and copies from his bag, doodle on them with his pencil, and put them back later. Sometimes teacher would collect them, and return them later with red marks on them.
On many occasions, he was made to stand up and be sternly spoken to, with much wagging of fingers. Sometimes, he would be asked to stay back after class to finish something.This overwhelmed him with an unnamed dread, helped along by a sadistic tormentor who filled him with stories of ghosts that appeared, and boys who were never seen again after detention.
Boy was certain that Eda, whose job it was to bring him back home, not seeing him, would go back; and he would get locked up in the school, to become dinner for the monsters his friend had warned him about.
This always made him start whimpering, to the amusement of his tormentor, a tiny curly haired brat. The kind hearted teacher would then let him off, and the sight of his waiting babysitter was of immense relief, as another day of confusing torture came to an end.
Boy had by now figured out basic reading and writing, and could speak a form of pidgin English, and vaguely figure out the Anglo Indian and Malayalam flavoured English that was the medium of instruction.
But the one instruction that eluded him was, “Make sentences”
What on earth was he to do? How do you make sentences? Which is the correct answer?
His constant companion Eda could see his tension, but could not help. When asked, quite naturally, as to how the other kids figured this out, Boy responded quite creatively.
“The answer is put up in the notice board, which is kept locked. It is only opened for a minute and those boys who can rush and read it know the answer. Also the monitor who puts it up knows, and tells his friends. And the teacher tells her favourites. “
Some sort of embarrassment kept boy from involving his parents in his troubles. When the first assessment card was handed over to be signed by his parents, Boy’s mother saw “1st term “on the cover, and immediately assumed her darling genius had come first in class. Only further perusal showed his rank, 50th. Not so bad, in a class of 50 students, and this was also mentioned on the card.
She however, preserved all those assessment cards, and displayed them to Boy’s own kids, thus ruining forever, his moral authority to exhort his children for better academic performance.
Boy’s homework continued to be in arrears, and class work incomplete. Notes to parents remained unanswered, and for a good reason. The parents were unaware of them. Demands from the teacher for meeting with them received creative responses, that father was on tour, and mother did not talk to strangers. Story telling came naturally to the boy from a tender age.
Circumstances helped him develop a survival strategy. After the monitor collected the exercise books, including Boy’s incomplete, incorrect or blank contributions, and stacked them on the deck; Boy would look for an opportunity and sneak up, retrieving his copy. Next day’s work would begin on a fresh page.Every day on the way to school Boy would pray fervently to all the Gods he knew, and the new ones he discovered in school, that his perfidy remain undiscovered, bowing his head to every temple, shrine or mazhar on the way, making the sign of cross for good measure. The statue of Mary in the school landing would get special obeisance from him, on the assumption that she would have greater control of fate within those premises. He would also watch out for occult signs like the number of sparrows spotted, as, it was common knowledge that “One was for Sorrow, and two was for Joy”, and so forth.
But despite all these precautions and insurance, fate played nemesis one fine day.
Boy had had no opportunity for the sneak retrieval of his offending notebook, when the teacher picked up the one on top, leaving the evidence exposed. Now nature played villain, and a whiff of breeze turned back the pages of his notebook.
The teacher, was very surprised to view the results of this quite literal exposure, and examined the whole notebook. Then she proceeded to commandeer his schoolbag, and study all the exercise books in it. Startled by her discoveries, she summoned Boy up front, and holding his ear in one hand, displayed his note books to the class with another.
This was followed up with further corporal punishment, which was not only legal, but commonplace in those unenlightened days. There were visits to the principal, and letters sent home by post, which, due to some brilliant interception from Boy, never reached its intended recipients.
I believe this was the incident that made Boy such a committed Atheist for life.Copyright (c) Soumya Mukherjee

6 Comments

  1. If I am given an option to choose a book over a movie ( tzp) – it would be ”Lost ” ‘(Idyll dreams),
    These are finest HATE account of a super nostalgic moment and here’s why :
    To start with I think our Hero , the boy’s favorite news would have been ” teacher is absent today ”
    Recreating the mandatory morning prayers, Lord’s prayer , ”Our Father who art in Heaven !!!!
    the Gooooood Moooorning greeting in a sing song voice all part of growing up.
    Yawning and not covering the mouth , shoving the notebook in the center of a pile of notebooks ,
    The Oscar winning solution and moment when the teacher asks foe the homework , or getting parent’s signature
    Telling the teacher ”I forgot my notebook ”(in home) ,
    Doom’s day is the marks and red decorations , its the end of the world moment during PTA,
    Or not opening eyes during the morning assemblies , getting noticed by a waling talking sedative teacher and humiliated- feeling like a subspecies of humanity , everything including the bullying , The Boy must have felt he is defined by the limited classroom as he was definitely not the IN boy , as he could never fit in. Understanding the primary school , his dreams and expectations if any , NEVER TOOK FLIGHT, as he must have wondered if the 50TH ranker would have a better life .
    I think his best moments, was proudly tricking his parents and school teacher ., for him going to school itself was a pain , as had to face his tormentors who blackmailed , I am quite sure the five minutes of bliss in between two classes must have been pure freedom from the ominous teacher (I for one was afraid even out of school if the teacher spotted me)
    Beautifully put all the embarrassing moments including the assessment kept for the future reference of his children
    Must have felt like hiding 100 feet below the classroom

    I with your permission like these lines :
    Here I sit
    In a class I don’t want to be.
    May be pointless to admit.
    What do they want me to see?
    As the children ridiculed him and called him names
    the young man hid his face in great shame.
    What was he to do when it was one vs. all?
    Cause he knew what they’d do when they found him in the hall.Did they ever, never spell right?

    For the teacher
    Spell checker, sum ticker , line giver, nit picker :

    Did they ever make mistakes?
    Were they punished in the corner
    If they stole the chocolate flakes?
    Did they ever lose their hymn books?
    Did they ever leave their greens?
    Did they scribble on the desk tops?
    Did they wear old dirty jeans?

    Do write , insanely creative and a way with effective words and yes a great connect
    you are like Julius Caesar , VENI VIDI VICI

    Thank You

    Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/the-kid-in-the-back-of-the-class

    Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poems/teen/school/

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