“I was in 7th grade when Papa got me admission in St. Francis School – the best school in Jhansi back then; and the school which was known to have 90% of the students from elite families of Jhansi. During the summer holidays or say before the session took off in July, I used to be on cloud nine for I had got admission there on the basis of my merits, unlike the children of upper middle class and upper class who used to get admission there on the basis of donation. And as you know that I take time in mixing up with people, I used to be very apprehensive and feel very extrinsic in my class because most of my classmates were very rich and had a background of boarding schools. I used to feel timid in their presence. A few times I discussed the same with Papa and Maa also, but they maintained that I have been sent in St. Francis to study and therefore I must concentrate only on studies and not worry about other things.”
“Being their single child, Papa and Maa always wanted to give me the best they could afford and I am most certainly proud of this fact. But sometimes, I think, being the only child brings you its own set of disadvantages because your parents’ expectations are solely set on you. And most importantly, there is no one else in your life with who you can share things that you can’t share with your parents right when they happen and in your life you miss that confidante always… Anyway, this is just beside the point right now.”
“So I was saying that I discussed this with Papa n Maa a few times but I realized it very soon that they would not be able to understand my appehensions because they have set certain goals for me in their mind and I have to try my best to fulfill them. Moreover, Papa always told me that situations like these will always come and to face them, I have to be a fighter, not just a survivor and I always used to get boosted with his statement.”
“My school was known for its strict focus not only on academics but also the physical appearance and hygiene of the students. As in, the girls must pony their long hair with “red ribbons”; uniform must be ironed and crisp, nails must always be cut, shoes must always be polished and many more things like that… And to maintain the same, the school seniors like house captains and vice house captains used to check the appearance of each student after the morning assembly. And every day I used to come across this girl called Shweta Grover who was in 11th Grade, Commerce section… She was the Vice Captain of my House.” Amrita took a pause. Saksham gazed at her and put his coffee cup down on the table.
“So… then what happened? This girl was quite a menace in your life I can see that coming… but what did she do? Saksham inquisited.
Amrita recalled everything in flash of a second and continued “initially she didn’t do anything as such… but I can’t forget her expressions whenever our eyes used to meet. She always used to glare at me. Even during the morning checking routine, she always taunted me that how yellowish my white shirt is and my socks are loose and quite a few things about my appearance. She absolutely detested me for no specific reason. I always ignored all her statements and kept only Papa’s statement in mind. I knew people will mock me here because that’s how they are brought up in rich families. Respect and care are two elements that they believe is their sole right to obtain but definitely not to impart.”
“Anyway, I passed out my 7th grade with excellent marks and our small family celebrated it as Maa baked a cake at home and made Chhole – Bhature and Papa took me to the market and got me a new pen set and audio cassette of Sonu Nigam’s famous album “Deewana”. It was such a happy day.”
“then…” Amrita sighed and continued “I appeared in class 8th and that has been the worst year of my life by far.”
“Whatever it is, I m ready to know” said Saksham.
To be continued…