A Memory (Dedicated to my GrandPa)
“I am not going back to school! Throw me off the terrace if you want to, but you can’t make me study in this heat!!” he yelled in the high-pitched voice breaking at the edges.
My teenaged grandson had returned from school. His mother flurried around setting the table for his lunch. Luckily my son was in office or this outburst from my grandson would have created mayhem. But then he wouldn’t have had this outburst while his father was here. The hot temper was an inherited one.
I sat in my room, unnoticed as usual and remembered only when meals were served. Today was an exceptionally hot day and for once I really didn’t blame the little boy for complaining. The fan swirled around in slow revolutions dragging itself against the hot & humid air. It couldn’t bring any relief but carried on it’s job like something out of habit. I tried to write again concentrating on holding the pen steady. But it would shudder in my fingers now and then.
I decided to give it a rest and moved over to the bed. Lying down seeing the fan make those circles, I relapsed in to one of my favourite pas times of late. My grandson’s outburst had unthinkingly brought forward a long forgotten memory. It’s surprising how many memories you have and how an incident is all that’s needed to bring them back. The details were far from vivid of course but I could see myself clearly…
I was running late for school. There were still 2 km to go & my bare feet just couldn’t run harder. The dry river bed stretched ahead. I was just thankful that the sand was still cool. Huffing and panting from walking so far, I finally caught sight of the school. Just on time! Though the morning prayers had finished the classes had not yet begun for I could hear the cacophony erupting from my classroom. I sat down on the floor near my friend and then the teacher came in.
Schools that time were so different, the quality of education was remarkable minus the fanciness. Yet not everyone had the privilege of attending schools. My family were the landlords of our village. My elder brother was my guardian & he wanted me to go in to farming like all the kids usually did. But I had other plans. Running away from home had been tough. I had to survive with bare necessities. Using the lead nibs of broken pencils and the sole of shoes as my eraser was an art I’d mastered.
The Math teacher was having problems making the children understand. We had reached the last period for the day & it was nearing noon. I don’t remember much about the topic except that it was simple enough for me to understand at the first attempt.
I was getting impatient. I’d understood the problem and was eager to get going on my way before the mid-noon sun scorched the sand making it difficult to walk on. I stood up. Sir looked at me-“Yes what is it?! Even you don’t get it? Sit down & let me explain!” “No sir, in fact I have understood the problem & I think I also know why many of them don’t get it. May I attempt to explain them sir?” I requested. I was a good student and had always helped my fellow classmates. So I knew what should be explained and the precise manner of doing it.
“You?! Now you think you will teach the class? Fine let’s see what you have to say” he fumed irritated and gave me the chalk. I walked up to the blackboard & started explaining. Nearly everyone understood now. I handed him back the chalk. “Humph! You kids are such morons..if you can’t understand the simple fundas how do you expect me to teach you? “ he glared at everyone.
My job done and the class being over I rushed out and made my way slowly on the now burning river bed….
The journey had continued, sometimes as difficult as the burning sand and sometimes the cool early morning walk. But I’d made it. From a star student of a village school to research work in Canada and now a retired university professor, the journey is far from over. I smiled to myself as I got up to go to my grandson’s room to persuade him to return to school tomorrow.