My first experience at a residential school

In the summer of 1994, I was 10 years old. My dad had just taken a long leave from work. We had shifted to our native village after my school closed for the summer. My parents were constantly discussing various residential school options that were available for me. I was scared and excited altogether. With these mixed emotions, whenever prompted by my parents, I was revising my lessons. Most schools conduct entrance examinations to admit students. My parents wanted me to be prepared. Though I did not like to revise my lessons, I did sit and study at times.

After clearing the entrance exams, I joined a residential school. My brother was very excited to see all the outdoor play things like swing, merry go round, slide etc. He was only 5 years then. But seeing his excitement, my dad enrolled him too. I was tensed at the prospect of learning to tend to myself and take care of him in a different environment.

After some days, my brother created a lot of fuss in the school and hence my parents shifted him out. I still remember writing to my parents every time asking them to take him back. He used to be home sick and cry a lot.

For me, the first few days went by adjusting to the new environment. After the initial excitement and new found independence died down, I hated the life at residential school. I was missing my parents, home. I waited impatiently for a chance to go home. I longingly looked at the day scholars who go home everyday.

At the school, everyday at 5 in the morning, a bell rings to wake us up. Some students rush to bath, some study, some continue to sleep until 6 O’ clock. But from the time the first bell rings until 6 O clock, a series of hindu spiritual songs are played in the loud speaker of all the dormitories. Ayarpadi Maaligaiyil is one of the first songs that is played. It is a lovely lullaby rendered for Lord Krishna in my mother tongue, Tamil.

Everyday when the bell goes off in the morning, it used to bring me to tears. Unknown fear would grip me. I used to think about the ever scowling teachers, some mean students and a lot of things that usually finds place in a terribly home sick 10 year old’s mind. These emotions were particularly intense if I had just returned to school after a short break at home for festivals, vacation etc. The song is actually a lullaby sung for Lord Krishna by his mother. Needless to say, early in the morning, I would be home sick. Thus I began associating these memories with this song.

After putting up with the school for a year, I left at the end of 6th grade. But the stress I experienced there continued to stay with me. Every time, my brother or I hear that song play in the radio, television etc, we simply could not stand it. One of us would run to switch it off. For us, it would remind us of the difficulties we experienced at that school. It would take us back to that world we did not want to belong to. My brother hardly stayed there for a month and despite being very young, his memories of the school stayed afresh.

Now, it is nearly 20 years since I associated my sufferings to this song. There is absolutely nothing in the song that could make anyone sad (except may be people who are longing for mom’s lullaby), but it haunted me for almost 20 years. Only recently, I started listening to this song without getting depressed. I am fascinated at how some things like these are etched in our mind. They say “Time heals” and in my case it has, even though it took 20 years.

This post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music dated 4th November 2013 at The Daily Post.

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Different Perspectives

This is going to be my first ever participation in a writing challenge. I used to write diaries and letters. So far whatever little I had written had all been my perspectives. This post here is an attempt to describe a scenario in two different perspectives in response to this week’s (21st Oct 2013) writing challenge from Daily post – the Difference point of view makes

Scenario: Mom is back home after her run. Her year old daughter is sitting in the living room with her grandfather when mom gets back. What happens next is told in this story in mother’s and daughter’s perspective.

Mother’s perspective:

After nearly a week, I managed to sneak out for my morning run. With a baby and a toddler every little task that involves going out of the house is a challenge. I woke up my dad from his sleep and asked him to be in the kids’ room till I got back.

When I entered the house all sweaty and tired after 45 minutes, my little girl Aditi was already up and waiting for me. It was time to relieve my dad of his duties. He was ready to step out for his morning walk. I sat down near Aditi who was playing with her elder brother’s toys. I saw that she was all excited as she rarely gets a chance to lay her hands on his prized possessions.

After giving a peck on her cheek, I laid down next to her for my exercises. I pushed myself to the brink for completing the first set of leg raises wondering how some movie stars sported flat tummies post pregnancy. For the hundredth time, I cursed myself for putting on this much weight. When I was mid way with the second set of exercises , Aditi decided that trying to climb on my chest would be lot more fun than playing with the toys. As a result, the leg raises got even more challenging. Why would it not be, when you got to do them with a baby who is simultaneously trying to practice standing up holding you for support! By the time I was done with the third set, Aditi was all over me. She pulled my hair, checked out my earrings and when there was nothing else to do, she got impatient.

She wanted me to pick her up. Just when I got up to do that, Arjun, my son came running out of the bedroom and straight on to my arms. Poor little Aditi was screaming and as usual, I was helpless wondering how to calm them both!

Daughter’s perspective:

It was still dark when Aditi woke up from her sleep. In the dimly lit bedroom, she was unable to find her mother. Then she kicked her legs in the air and listened to the soft noise from her anklets. She looked around when she heard a noise. It was her grandfather. He whispered “Aditi” and picked her up. 

After visiting her grandmother in the kitchen, they settled down in the living room. She did not like that. She was about to cry to state her disapproval. Grandfather got the cue and picked her up to point at all the toys that were neatly stacked on the television stand. Her eyes caught her brother’s shiny new car, the one he refused to share with her. She waved her hands at it and mumbled her baby words “adhu, adhu” meaning “that”.

Once she had that precious possession in her hands, she calmed down. She examined the car from all the angles, probably to see which side to bite first. She played with the wheels. Then, she threw it around and enjoyed all the noises it made. Right then, somebody opened the front door.

It was her mom. She was happy to see her. For a while, she kept herself busy playing with the new car and looking at her mom. In sometime, she was bored. She went near her mother and tried to get up holding her. After she was done with all this, She wanted her mom’s attention and was desperately trying to get it. She pulled her hair, hair band. But mom was in no mood to pick her up.

Finally, when mom got up, she was thrilled. Now, came the moment she was waiting for. She held her arms high, ready to be picked up. Right then her brother came running from the bedroom and went straight to her mom’s arms. Aditi’s world came down now. She thought how could mom pick up her brother and not her. She was very angry and began crying!