The first time I got an ‘outstanding’ in my Maths paper in the second standard; I was petrified and trembled in fear. The others who got ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ as grades, were asked to kneel down. I was an exception. I was sitting on my bench. Red with fear and drenched in sweat. I whispered into Nandita’s ears, “I got an ‘outstanding’. What does that mean? And why are everybody punished and not me?” Nandita looked at me with alarmed eyes. She lowered her tone and widened hey dramatic eyes and said, “Oh my God! You have done really badly in exams, worse than ‘very poor’ grade. You’ll be made to ‘stand’ ‘outside’ the class for the whole day. That is ‘out-standing’.
I started crying. But I had solved all the sums correctly. How can I get an ‘out-standing’? Everybody will laugh at me when they see me standing outside. It’s so shameful. Mamma will be so angry. I cried and cried. Because I got an ‘out-standing’. That is the innocence of childhood.
You may call it my stupidity and tell me how dumb I was when I was seven. But honestly, I miss that dumbness in me. I miss that innocence in me, when some words never made sense to me, when I was as blank as a plane white sheet, when for me my world was my home and mamma and papa. When school was a dreadful castle with witches and bitches haunting me. When the last bell of school was melody to my ears. When the first glance of my mother after getting down from the school bus was the moment to die for. When a short nap and then tying two pony tails to go out and play with my friends was my only ambition in my life. When while playing ‘ghar-ghar’, to be the ‘mammi’was my only desire. When all the little girls would fight and go ‘katti’ when they never got to become the ‘mammi’.
Now, after all these years, when I travel to my college, I steal a look out of the bus window and see my lost world replicated in front of my eyes. Little girls with heavy school bags hung on their shoulders, neatly dressed in their uniforms with two ‘mamma-made-plates’, holding their dearest daddy’s hand, splashing rainwater all over, chirping endlessly. I so love to watch them. I smile when I look at them, but suddenly, a grim feeling eclipses me. One daythese little girls are going to grow up. When everything in this world will make sense to them..
How much I wish that they would never grow up. How much I wish I would have never grown up. How much I wish that the ‘innocence’ is never lost…and some words of this world would never make sense to me…at all.