Friday, 12 December 2014

Gearing Up

School. It's a mono-syllable word that holds more meaning than any other in the mind of a student. Right from the age when we're still sucking our thumbs to the age when we gear up to get our driver's license, we live a life that revolves around school. On the list of places that define me, my school gives my home a tough competition for the top spot. I believe it is the most under-appreciated part of our lives. In fact, since the beginning of this year, I have been at a point in my life where I became impatient for school to get over. All I've wanted for over a year now is to get rid of it, to get out.

But, on the last day of school, I couldn't get enough of it. Yes, I still want to step out into the world, but I'm reluctant to let this place become a part of my past. It's suddenly hitting me that no matter where I go, a part of me will always be in this building, on this amazing campus. And a part of this school, in return, will stick with me until the very end.
I'll always be the first person to criticise this place, just as I'll always be the first to defend it. I reserved that right fourteen years ago, when I took my first tentative step past that towering green gate in my Nursery overalls.

So, I've decided to write an account of all things nice and nasty about this weirdly endearing place - institution, whatever - that my school is. It's a clich├ęd, coming-of-age post, it isn't particularly well-written, and it won't be too much to say that it's kind of pathetic, but it's just fitting, and I'm not ashamed of it.

The first image that comes to mind when I think of school is of the school campus. We have a sort of love-hate relationship, the campus and I. On one hand, I hate the dilapidated state of the infrastructure. And there isn't any love lost between me and our "state-of-the-art" wash rooms, with their haunting smell of ammonia. On the other hand, I love the corridors, the old staircase, and the drive way, where I've loitered around countless times since middle school. I've skived off enough classes to bask in the winter sun on the school field, that rest assured, I'll never forget the smell and feel of freshly mown grass (that was ruthlessly plucked out and promptly thrown in the next person's face). I'll never forget the primary school playground, the swimming pool, and the skating rink, where I have my more earlier school memories. I'll miss the canteen which was our daily hangout, even when we didn't actually have money to spend. I'll always feel proud when I think of our school auditorium, where our sister-schools came for their annual functions, because their campus lacked a hall as grandiose as ours. I adore the classrooms filled with memories; so what if they are also filled with creaky desks and chairs that have been repaired far too many times?

Then, of course, there are the teachers. There are all kinds of teachers in our school: the chilled-out ones who mind their own business, the annoying ones who seem to have a problem with every breath you take, the too-sweet ones who will use their big smiles to get their work done, and all other kinds in between. But, no matter what kind, I have had both negative and positive experiences with every teacher who taught me at some point.  In the end, I guess I'll miss almost all of them.

Besides the teachers, there are all sorts of other people at school - the administrative staff, the gardener, the janitors, the book-shop guy, and many others whose job description I'm unaware of. But the only ones I might miss are the canteen-vaale-bhaiyas, although it's more because of the place they remind me of than the people themselves. A close second is the 'mini-shop' across the front gate, even though it isn't technically a part of the school.

There are also the people that I would gladly strangle with my own bare hands, without so much as a flinch. It's a short list, but there's a certain sari-clad woman in a position of power - well, sort of - who makes several appearances on it. I could have included her as a teacher, but I never had her subject, fortunately. Oh, and her pawns - the guards! Those annoying people in SIS uniforms, lurking in every nook and cranny of the school, giving offensively questioning looks to passers by. I understand that they are merely doing their job, but it's fucking annoying, and it makes you feel like you're in prison. As though school were a love child of Azkaban and Tarturus.

Our school uniform is... well, let's face it, our uniform sucks. Big time. What sort of a colour combination is that, any way? The only good thing to be said for it is that we never had to suffer through a salwar-kameez. And by now we're so used to the colours, it hardly matters. And... what else? Let's see. I could talk about school books, but when I think of those, my mind turns up nothing but a certain technical error. Error 404: File not found.

A particularly amazing part of school life are the 'educational' trips. Whether it's a day trip to Worlds of Wonder or a four-day excursion to Nainital, school trips are always awesome. Heck, even if it's not really a trip (you know, one of those overnight on-campus camps?), even if it's one of those free trips to bio-reserves and such places, they are pretty damned memorable. Take a group of school friends and dump them anywhere on this god-forsaken planet, it's highly improbable that they won't have a blast. (So much the better if they happen to be carrying their smart phones.) I remember every single trip I've been on, and I doubt I'll be forgetting them any time soon.

I could go on and on; school life comprises of a lot of things, after all. I will miss my friends, perhaps more than anything else, but I don't think I need to mention that separately. Most of all, I'll miss the routine that my life has had for the past fourteen years - hell, I already miss it. Sometimes, when something interesting happens, my mind immediately jumps to the moment when I'll be telling my mates about it at school the next day, before I remember that that won't ever happen again. There's no school the next day, or the one after that. Or ever. I'll still go to that building for my remaining exams, until those, too, are over. But there'll be no more classes, no more efforts to hide our giggling fits, no more inconspicuous passing around of a lunch box during those classes. There will no longer be a school routine - no longer a school, at all. (Add to this the uncertainty I feel for the career path I've chosen, and the constant anxiety about college admissions, and what you get is a complete mess for a brain.)

But, even though I know that after a couple of years I'll probably settle into another routine and get bored of my new life, at least for now, there's also excitement and wonder. Excitement, for all the new experiences that await me, the new people I'll meet, and the new places I'll see. Wonder, for where these experiences will lead me, and for the ways in which I'll get to explore my potential. And, of course, there's the eagerness for these exams to be over, so I get to that lull in my schedule that'll last for a couple of months (at most). I've got too many things to do - too many books to read and too many TV shows and movies to watch, lots of things to paint, and lots of places to visit. So what if I might not come out on the other side in one piece? I'll come out nonetheless: that, I'm sure of. And that's what really matters.

1 comment:

  1. Kanika,
    I cried. This is beautiful.
    Thank you.