Sometimes, I think the past makes me happier than the present… hahahah 🙂 I believe in living in the moment but there are some triggers which weaves a thread of joy when it gives me seconds of peeps…. and that is enough…

I have been thinking lately that I need to get away from Facebook but its times like this… when someone posts something so heart warming … that I keep hanging on to this space…

As it happened today morning while just browsing through with my cup of tea. I remember my schooldays with fondness… and with little giggles as I was the naughty one and would be up to no good many a times… I loved being naughty and supposedly getting away from it.

620wide+9532602I have so many memories which make me pause and smile that I feel blessed sometimes, that I actually moved through school with so much joy and unaffectedness.  And yes, all the competition of being the best would actually put me off.. while the rest were busy competing for the top positions, I would engross myself with my own daydream or the next plan of action… some new adventure… and the works… Books were still my favorite pastime and I would be more often be wondering about the next bit in Enid Blyton series or Secret Seven series… Or Hardy boys and Nancy Drew adventures…

My favorite was Mallory Towers, I loved the midnight feast scenes and it was such a fun book to read. Reminds me to get the collection for myself online.. 🙂 One more for the library.. 🙂

As I moved into the teens the hot bits were about smuggled photoromances… It was a treasure more so as it was forbidden… hahahah:)

I would hang out with as many groups as possible sometimes, would not understand intense friendships between two girls and jealousy not allowing the third girl in… onto their space… WHOA…  we would leave them alone…

I am having a deluge of memories…  and its tumbling through..

stmarys3

Photo taken by Madhumita S. Bhattacharya

I remember mornings.. Mornings was spent in preparing for the hymn singing. We would get turns in preparing for hymns and I would be happiest when singing.. I did not know then but now I do that the songs that we would sing in the praise of our Lord, would actually ground me and give a good start to our day. I would be feeling joyous the day I would get to sing in the prayer assembly… 🙂

One of my favorite was “One Day at a time Sweet Jesus

I’m only human, I’m just a woman.
Help me believe in what I could be
And all that I am.
Show me the stairway, I have to climb.
Lord for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time.

Chorus:
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you.
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine.
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

Do you remember, when you walked among men?
Well Jesus you know if you’re looking below
It’s worse now, than then.
Cheating and stealing, violence and crime
So for my sake, teach me to take
One day at a time.

And Another one which comes to my mind very often is this hymn by Rabinranath Tagore which I loved to sing

Give Me Strength

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

PT used to be the bane of my existence and believe me even today I really am not the athlete type or the gym type and I would make creative excuses like ” my heart is paining ” (today I wonder what the good Sisters thought). At first the Sisters would be sympathetic but seeing me prance away… or rest during PT sessions would make them realize that I was feigning… 🙂 and there was no escape.. in fact I remember one good Sister.. who caught me and said that if I did that she would give me ” pat” “pat” on my behind… hahahah 🙂

Lessons

Lessons were fun.. I had my favorite teachers and well, it would make me preen inside if I got a “very good” from my teachers.. but not for a long time.. I had my dear friends who would compare marks and show off or get bothered, I was always onto the next bit of moment thinking, what could I buy to eat… oh there were so many bits to eat from the kongs who sold stuff like tamarind, sour fruits, lozenges,  etc etc..

Or I would think of lunch… Or i would daydream… I would have some dear friend come up and tell me, : “look I got 99 or 100 which is 1 mark more than you..” which would make me think… “well alright, go for it… ”  ( it was a different issue back home when Mom would get really pissed if I was not in the Top 5 which I was mostly, She was competitive enough for me, whereas even today, I hate competition, my motto was do what you know with passion and very well, and you will always shine no matter what )

I remember my least favorite subject was Political Science and I would score the lowest. My Teacher Ms Kaveri, a very strict teacher knew I was good in other subjects and would talk to be after class to motivate me to do well in her subject.. I liked that and tried harder. Its not surprising that even today if there is a thing I dont like to do and someone tells me nicely to do it,  I just do it with that much more passion… like I do many other things.. 🙂

We had nick names for our teachers. I think we were blessed with many good teachers during that time and they were like celebrities to us.. Some where beautiful, some were so knowledgeable. And any gossip about them would have us abuzz with interest.  Someone married outside her community and we would wait for her patiently to see the changes… she would have in her appearances.. like a Bengali teacher marrying a Malayali man and she suddenly turning her appearance like a south Indian.. for us South India was a far off country and somewhat exotic… 🙂 It was very interesting to see a Bengali woman transform into a Malayali hahaha 🙂  ( and today I am almost like one… hahahah living and breathing the Southern air… and loving it)

And having lunch secretly before lunch time… sometimes, I would get away with it and sometimes, I would be made to stand up and given a slight scolding.. I would be properly ashamed but do the same activity after.. some days…

I loved English, Geography, Algebra, History, Mechanics, Trigo, Science. All because, maybe each subject was in my mind attested to teachers I really respected and wanted to do well for their approval and to shine in their eyes.. 🙂

I loved the interschool games too… I never was the athletic kind but I could cheer myself hoarse….  and of course admiring the good looking boys who would be allowed for games… we were an all girls school…  🙂

And the Science Fairs… I was an avid participant in that… I remember making an active volcano model, the first of its kind, with Pottasium permanganate and Sulphuric acid to show volcano at work… WOW…. We attracted a lot of crowd at the fair and also won a special prize… I loved that time when we got together as teams to make models for competitions.

I remember ragging a participant who was showing a chart on Malaria and he proclaimed that Anopheles was a Male Mosquito and Culex was a female mosquito… Ohhh, that got my gut and I ragged him and ragged him.. till the bugger got it… hahahah 🙂

stage_fright

There was one inter school competition where I was a participant on some extempore. The topic was very simple… “Flowers ” and I worked myself up and fear struck me… and when I went to the stage I forgot everything and what came out of my mouth was  ( I was in Class VII, quite able to speak eloquently on flowers/gardening)

Good afternoon, the topic today I am going to speak about is flowers/Gardening.

Pause… GULP… Pause…  [mind totally blank]

Flowers, I… love… flowers… rose is a beautiful flower…. my father loves flowers…

And i love flowers….

Pause… GULP…. ( sweating nervously) Pause… looking for a desperate out…

Thank you…

Suffice it to say, I was reprimanded very strictly by the Sister who nominated me for the competition.. And well that was the end of me taking part in  debate competitions…

I was also the designated singer of my class… my teachers would always pick me for school functions… and yours truly had a major case of stage fright… so much so that everything would go blank in front of an audience…

I found out a solution for this…  After thinking a lot and working it out.. I had started wearing lenses and my eyes were myopic and I could not see much without glasses. Hence, I decided if I did not wear my lenses I could not see anyone in front of me and I could sing… And IT WORKED… 🙂

I started performing with my lenses off my eyes… and I had got a magic formula…

The most memorable song I remember singing and choreographing ( musically)  with a group was Aye Mere watan ke logo. The emotion of the song was very strong and it still touches me when I listen to the original version.

I loved acting in plays and directing plays. I remember acting in the play Bluebeard and run around the stage spouting some dialouges… it was so much fun.  And yes I did have my lenses off during that time as well..

Interestingly, today I have to frequently address one form or audience or the other and I am glad I got over this fear of speaking in public.

Hahahahah 🙂

Oh the joy of living with so much carefree attitude…

I remember being a substitute for my teachers and teaching junior classes… It made me feel so adult.. and grown up. I would teach mathematics and english to the younger classes. I was in my last year of school and we were kind of role models and very focused on studies and our boards.. we talked and moved like very busy souls… with lots on our heads, tutions, getting through exams… and captainship was a big responsibility then… we were also responsible for disciplining the young and errant kids. LOL

I still remember, there was this class of very young girls which had a very bad reputation.  I think it was Class V. The whole batch was so naughty and restless and incorrigible that teachers would be pained to take their classes and avoided it somehow and well with me being so eager to teach, I was given the responsibility to handle the class. The class was so infamous that it was situated away from the normal classes so that any loud noise would not disturb the rest.

downloadI went ahead and thought in my mind.. what a treat, handle the whole class !!! Little did I know what was in store for me..  I went in as usual and saw tiny faces who examined me with interest. Started my class… and just 5 minutes elapsed when the barrage of questions started..

“Miss, she is troubling me”, said one tiny voice, from the back.  Me looking questioningly up.

“No Miss, it was her”, and then “Miss, may I go to toilet”, “Miss, why does this sentence do this”, “Miss, this, Miss that.. ”

I was nonplussed… after a while, I loudly said “QUIET”, and then continued…. with my lesson. The quiet lasted for 5 minutes at the best… and then it started all over again…

I was at a loss, and made them stand up as a punishment and read…. or something…

Every period there was a different cacophony of noise..

I was at my wit’s end and vowed never to enter that class ever again…  hahahaa 🙂 I told myself if I ever became a teacher, I would teach only the upper classes and went and saluted the class teacher of this batch really appreciating her. hahahah 🙂

I had very good friends, today many are in FB, who actually tolerated me.. and my antics… I am ever so grateful to them.. I had some who I think hated me but heck I had many I liked and was liked by. They would encourage me to sing.. during lunch time, they would conspire with me, they would laugh with me… I so miss the years of camaraderie which gave my soul the impetus to grow joyfully… I do am grateful for that…  from a tiny tot to a mature teen… it was a wonderful journey with them… like all good things, this also ended.. in the year 1990 when we had to go our separate ways and reality started its biting..

Today I seem to have the same kind of tolerance, love and compassion for the Gen Y souls that I manage in my team, I have very smart young people who do not mind taking advantage of some situations and getting upto some mischief… and one day I caught one of the young uns and told him, ” Dude, stop your nonsense or dont get caught. Whatever school of thought you are employing, I am the principal of that”. hahhaah 🙂 He would never know of course what a brat I was but I think I have a soft corner for brats who excel at work and are creative enough to live well… with joy and good mischief… mischief and fun is good for living.. I think if its harmless to anyone around us…

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Photo taken by Madhumita S. Bhattacharya

My refuge

Studying in a Catholic school, we were very familiar with mass, the philosophy and the discipline.. Our school had an orphanage and nearby there was a lovely chapel. I would love visiting the chapel and sitting with myself… I would sneak away from all the din and find some solace just sitting there..  I can still feel the contentment… when I think of that place.

In fact I would love taking a walk in and around that as there were beautiful flowers and there was a beautiful statue of Mary covered with bushes and flowers that would fascinate me… and give me pause..

The teen body would be subconsciously  be drawn into the serenity that this place projected. It would also be my refuge when I was going through something difficult.. typical teenage situations.. 🙂

And on the lighter side this space would also be an excuse to share deep secrets with friends about something important.

All was not hunky dory… 

When I was in Class II or III I think I was caught with a bottle of Ajwain seeds, which I used as mouth freshener. I was suspected of drugs…. hahahahah 🙂 My parents were flustered. I think it was Sister Aloucious who told me that I was carrying drugs… EWWW.. that scared me..  Poor Sister, she did not know Ajwain seeds..were a spice.

There were many events which made me pause as well. Losing good friends, losing good teachers… it was part of life but it did make me wonder… There was this beautiful girl called Rosanna, she had long curly hair and a beautiful smile, she was a beautiful girl, and her death haunts me even now. She tripped from her stairs at her home and fell to her death and one morning we got the news and it was devastating… I kept on remembering her smile and I think she looked even more beautiful in death..

There was Kong Itri our mathematical genius, she had squinted eyes and was really old… we loved figuring out if we was looking at us while scolding or elsewhere.. She was a whizz in maths… and could solve any problems. She passed on due to old age and we went to her funeral.

My good friend who is no more,…. Priyabika, was this gregarious soul who introduced me to the world of fashion and self awareness and most importantly boys… She separated from me in Class VI or VII. I never prescribed to the idea of best friends as it hurt when we separated.. and it was so painful and hence I made sure to mingle with enough in the class to have a good relationship with all.. Sometimes my friends did not understand it… but they accepted it… albeit unwillingly.

I was more often than not, the team captain and the class captain on and off so well naturally there were some souls who did not respond well to authority.  I remember, once i got into a fistfight with another very strong girl because she did not listen to me and boxed me. I boxed her back… and it lasted for seconds… but it was memorable… hahahaha 🙂  I called myself badass… LOLOL…  I must say that we were friends again in the future but I am sure she remembers me as well as I do… and have a good laugh..

The awareness of boys did not bode well for me… I got into a crush stage on some fella, and his sister who was senior to me, came up to me and had a “talk” with me… EWWWWW… that was the most embarrassing moment of my life… and it was just a bloody crush which the fella encouraged a lot… BRRRRR… not a good memory… hahahah… rest assured, I never bothered about that fella again… I felt that the whole school knew about this… EWWWW… again…

I also remember an incident when a teacher out of her strictness had scolded us  using our parents reference… and I rebelled against it… The teacher complained against us and the whole class was kind of suspended, yours truly part of the main group of rebels.. I was given a good lecture and I argued respectfully that it was ok to scold us but to use our parents as bad reference… is not allowed… Good god !! I remember my heart was beating fast and yet I stood up… for what I thought was right… and the Principal almost suspended us from school because of insubordination. There were some who were also punished for being “silent spectators” I bet cursing me inside… but we got over it…

Memories of strike, curfews, friends looking at us as outsiders, and the fear tinge that time till date… and it was not a good time when Shillong was going through a very bad state of terror and there was no discipline. exams were disrupted, many died, the whole atmosphere of that beautiful town was shrouded in darkness and despair. We longed to get out… and be in peace.. little did we know that outside it was the same.. Shillong was just getting into the groove of unrest and terror just like any other state in India…

All said and done.. 

It was a wonderful time… and I loved reminiscing on the same…

Even today as I wished a school friend Happy Birthday, in a mock off tune voice, she quickly reminded me of the Rabindra Sangeet sessions we used to have in school and we giggled like the school girls we were… this friend of mine… has this ability to make me laugh for nothing and every time we talk… we inevitably have lots of laughter in our conversation… and that gladdens my heart… the childlike impulse to giggle… and having someone to share something old and giggle all the more…. (shucks I remember there was a stage when I would giggle with my friends for nothing, even when the pencil fell down… hahahah 🙂 what fun !! )

So dear M, Happy Birthday… And hugssss to you…  🙂