School. Its almost always a wonderful part of everyone’s life and something people fondly look back on after a few decades when they grow into responsible adults. Meeting up with those who shaped your life and beliefs after many years is a wonderful time lapse which we cherish. Though we always find pleasant get-togethers and reunions that get discussed and how I miss my school – there is absolutely nothing that one gets to see, hear and comment on in terms of a school life gone bad.And just like a Harvey Weinstein case, this is one dark, bottomless pit that is always somewhere with you throughout.
My sister is visiting after a long gap of a year. It should not seem so long but it feels like it is. After the mundane first 10 days of eating, family functions we are now in a zone of rest and actually talking about stuff. We remembered our old days of living, our neighbors, friends and that they are doing so well. And suddenly you know, memory kicks in.
The topic went to one of the school teachers who lived in our vicinity. She was my class teacher in Standard 4 and you could see she was embarrassed about the fact we lived very close to each other. Its one thing to show that I am not giving any special treatment to someone who lives near my house, its another thing when someone like a teacher decides to give you nightmares.
A long forgotten saga was suddenly alive. For me, I prefer forgiving and leaving things behind because they should not affect your present. Don’t know why my mind is floating in 1996. My sister reckoned the fact that this teacher was infact a judgmental freak especially with children who needed more attention or learning and she would make it vocal to other parents, neighbors that she knew.
I was simple in my communication. I did not understand what a person was really saying. I used to respond to things spoken as they are. Later I was to learn that the area I lived in most of my childhood was a place of freaks who never said what they felt, they did what they didn’t intend to do and spent their time looking at others. No wonder my boisterous, loud, say-as-it-is family had a hard time adjusting here.
I won’t share the incidents with you, its no point bringing it to life. The sad part is that in my mind, those incidents will always be so detailed from start to end that I pity those who are a part of it.
But yes, she made it a hell for me in Std 4, and somewhere even though as a child I could see it had nothing to do with my studies or behavior in class. She put all students in different molds and over a period of a year those molds became clear. She favored the good family, high rankers and was always sweet to them. She disdained the average ones and then she hated those who were shameless about it . I think she made a different mold for me as I came from a different state altogether and spoke their language well. Something I realized can create insinuating jealousy in not just your fellow students but the teachers as well. I have also made a teacher cry just because I asked her questions. Simple questions. Which she knew were right but she could not answer.
There was another one who decided to beat me black n blue one day. Another creepy freaky teacher looked like a sensuous actress herself but she used to stare at me till I actually got uncomfortable. I guess, it was because I was the only girl who crossed her height towards the end of my school years. I had a crazy woman wearing sleeveless who was the Principal for a few years who did not have her cool in place.
Apart from bullying, the girl boy politics and the fact that I was loud, made jokes and was physically and vocally out there, squirmed many fellow students in their seats. I always had someone telling me to be more like a girl, to not jump around so much. Which is fine. What I realized was that I was hated for my boisterousness and eccentricity, something which I never saw in anyone of them. Probably they are all alike like coming from one similar community. Parents alike.
No one was an outlier. Though it feels great to be a stand out after all. Those years were confusing and there are just rare gems of the people I met then who treated me with love and as a human.
This experience worked for me in a different way a year back when a friend of mine got her daughter out of a popular school as she saw that she was sinking and was being left on the side while the teachers threw their hands up and her friends alienated her. I got a chance to witness this huge change in her life. And I was there to tell her. ‘Your daughter is way beyond the understanding of these mortals and they won’t do her justice. She is going to make you proud and do something people cannot even imagine in their small heads and she will always love you and respect you more for being by her side today.’
Well, life is a full circle. And a school is just what it is – a building made of concrete with stones around and a muddy playground to play. Sometimes you get to ring the bell.