Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Painful Memory

Sharing my son Ansar's writing about his childhood memories during his school days.He is the younger one of late Absar manjiyil the elder son of mine who was a little prodigy.

We all have awesome school memories and it always brings a smile when it flashes in our thoughts.

We all love to cherish those memories as long as we are alive. But there are some frames we try to cut out from the reel of memories. But every time we try to erase, it embarks in our oceanic thoughts.

I have been sailing through the haunting memories I had when I joined 1st standard in the midst of 1999 after relocating from Qatar to Kerala.

I don’t really remember the first day in the new school but I think my colleagues considered me as an English speaking Alien descended from other part of the world.

I have been studying in a school in Qatar from my KG classes to half of the 1st standard among different nationalities from all over the world in my class forced me to speak in English.

I guess the half yearly exams might have over by the time I joined the school in Kerala. Everyone in the class were classmates from LKG, UKG to 1st standard and surely they have made gangs out of it. So it might have been always hard for them to accommodate a new guy into their friends list.

I remember some faces in my class asking my name and later warning me not to speak in English as I was not a son of a foreigner. And that forced me to speak Malayalam fluently and gradually to completely override the English in my brain. I believe this would have been the same situation for all NRI students who would have joined in a school in Kerala.

We know PT or physical training classes are much awaited ones for everyone. Even after the fun in the lunch break and other breaks we still awaits to play for another 45mins in the big ground exclusively with our friends.

For me it was no fun but a relaxing time from all the messes in the class and to be alone in a corner of the veranda watching others having fun. Because whenever I try to join them they back off me every time.

Day by day I was struggling to understand what was really going around me. All I know was the punishments I had for not answering the questions asked, incomplete notes, skipping the home works assigned and for failing in the class tests. For me teachers were enemies who were born to hinder the happiness in my life with a terror of punishments. Kneeling down on the floor by raising hands were even worse than getting beats with stick or scale. Because the marks and dirt on the white pants will again lead to another motherly warmth.
One day in a Math class we were having a class test. I was not confident about the answers I have.

One by one students were called to the teacher’s table for correcting the test paper. Stars were given for good marks, stares and pinches for the failed ones. I was so terrified and all I want was to escape from the pinch in my underarm.

I managed to copy one of the answer from a colleague who was standing in front of me in the queue. The question was “7+3=” for which I have already written the correct answer “10”. But I found a new answer in his book that was “1o” which was written much more like a “b”. Out of the curiosity of finding a new answer I just wrote it down with a belief that I will be spared from the upcoming punishment.

Unfortunately I got extra pinches, scolding and a shouting statement that “I am not fit for 1st standard and the right place for me is in KG class”.

That was not the end of the punishment but starting of something else.

The very time I see her I nearly piss in my pants. And gradually this made me weak in Math which brought in more and more trouble.

As per the statement one day she literally took me to the KG class next our block and made me sit over there for some time and letting me know that those KG students were much better than me. It was the major embarrassing moment in my life in front of my classmates and in front of the KG students.

I know that no one will be remembering those moments but only me. It still strikes hard inside me like an arrow. And still brings me a heartbreak the moment I get reminded of those days.

Eventually by the end of the academic year I was detained in 1st standard with the advice of the principal stating that I am weak in most of the subjects especially in Malayalam. And sitting another round in 1st standard is the only solution to improve me.

Though I was happy hearing that because I had a hope that I will have new bunch of colleagues with whom I can be friends, play during the PT classes and in the endless breaks to come.

And I was not wrong about it. I had more friends and I survived in the school till my 10th grade where my 1st standard Math teacher became my class teacher.

I always thought of asking her about those old days but I never had that courage to speak up.

I haven’t yet revealed all these memories to anyone around me nor with my parents. All I was doing was holding everything within me.

May be that is the reason it still pops up every time in my thoughts after these many years when I sail back to the olden days of my school life.

I wish if this was read by her to understand how painful it would be for a student to have such a painful memory of a teacher who must have been regarded as a role model and guiding light rather than being a pain in heart. 

Ansar Manjiyil