At 42, one remembers only bits of childhood, but whatever I do must have left good impact on my mind for me to remember.
It was a small town we lived in. My parents worked. First memory I have is of the box cycle-rickshaw in which we went to the public school. I still remember the name of the rickshaw-puller Raessuddin, a tall, reticent fellow. Our class room faced the road, so we tried to grab window-seat so that we could watch the world moving on. Our school teachers were heros for us. But being a small town, they ended up visiting our home and becoming friends with our father. So we developed a comfort level with them. There was this boy, principal’s relative who sang very well and was the centre of attraction in our annual day functions. He is a renowned singer of religious songs now. Those teachers are still in our family friend circle. Well being from a middle-class family, I felt a bit inferior in that school, and became more introvert and docile from then on. My thin persona added to that.
Well, in class-5, I was suddenly removed from that school and put in a govt. school, where I was one of the richest. Parents told me that I have been admitted to the school so that I can get scholarship. But in retrospect I can guess now that they were not willing to pay high fees of the public school, so they wanted me in a low-cost govt. school. That my father never availed Leave Travel Concession from his office, saying that this is govt. ploy to make you spend on hotel, food and other things, confirms my suspicion. From that school in class-6 I was moved to another govt. school. Till class-8 I studied in that school and was one of the bright students in studies and extra-curricular activities. Though my father was never satisfied with my performance. I remember, I was 2nd in my class in class-7, and was coming back home with my prize, certificate to show to family and expecting hugs and kisses. On the way back, I met father who was going somewhere on a bicycle, and he told- Why did not you come first?. That killed all my joy on the spot. I used to have a crush on my maths teacher. Our history teacher loved me like a son. Our English teacher taught me all the basics of English as a second language. I was the star of school plays and story-telling competitions. Suddenly in class-8 my parents were advised by my teachers that for this bright child, this is not the right school. They shifted me to another school in class-9. I was a newbie there and lost all my confidence. I did maintain my academic record, but was subdued in all other activities.
So my regular shifting of school, and my father’s angry nature, actually shaped how I grew up to be a young man. A peace-loving, meek, adjusting, introvert who never asks for things that he deserves. Ofcourse fear of my father also resulted in me not getting any bad habits like smoking, drinking etc. even though our neighbourhood kids were spoilt by such addictions. My mother ingrained the habit of reading in me, which is still helping me a lot.
And I don’t know why I have this habit of making sisters wherever I go. In class-5, in class-8, I ended up treating some girls as sisters and telling them so. Not all of course, because for some I had a hidden crush.
A funny incident I remember is when on my 8th birthday I invited some of these classmates on birthday. My parents had no plans of celebrating my birthday. So I ran to the nearest bakery, and brought a big cupcake, some balloons and stuff, and decorated the home myself. I was thinking of my embarrassment when the friends came and saw that no one was celebrating my birthday. Such was my school time. Though my 1st birthday bash was a great one organised by my parents.