Updated: Jul 11
Consonance and dissonance
Did you ever see a laddie go this way and that?
The child gradually grew disconcerted with his experiences at the 'nursery'. He was annoyed and often shocked by the world that unwrapped and what that he deciphered in the fourth year of his life.
Other than Sister Atlee, there's a teacher and a nursemaid in the nursery. Sister Atlee makes an occasional visit, and though she appears aloof and austere, the child liked her because he recognized that she is loving and harmless. So is Maggie, the nursemaid, who is probably a teenage orphan living in the convent. She wears floral frocks and has bobbed hair. Maggie serves the kids with the milk and cookies brought from their homes and cleaned the rooms. The teachers in the school have to be unmarried, and if they marry, they have to leave their job. In that case, the teacher in the nursery is a young lady.
The children are assigned 'homework', and every morning they are supposed to place the homework book, one on top of the other, on the teacher's table. Most kids didn't know the purpose of the ritual. As a routine, they often place the book on the table, even if they have not done their 'homework'. The teacher goes through each book, and the kids have to go and get their book when she calls their name. She called "Anuj", and the kid gleefully approached her. He was startled that unexpectedly she threw the book at his face and yelled, "Why you didn't do your homework?". The book came flying with its pages spread and hit him right at his face. It didn't scare him, but he walked back with a heavy heart as the brown paper covering of the book got unwrapped, and he remembered how attentively his dad encased it late at night. While he sat appalled and downhearted, he could hear her calling the names of other kids in the class. He soon saw her throw the book at the face of another boy and saw the poor child pee right where he stood.
The kid was puzzled why he is continually getting instilled with sad and obnoxious negative notions. He wondered what's funny if "Jack fell down and broke his head, and if Jill came tumbling after", and what's joyful about Humpty Dumpty's great fall. He felt sad for Little Red Riding Hood's poor grandma, who the wolf ate. He wondered why he's taught that Golliwog doesn't bathe or brush his teeth and is ugly; and portrayed as black, with big eyes, thick lips and curly hair.
The kid didn't understand why Vikraman while playing in the sandbox, hit the back of his right hand with the pail when he approached him with a smile. It hurt him badly, and he withdrew, perplexed by the unexplained motivation for such behaviour.
The kid didn't understand why and how could Deepti, who accosted him crying for help, romp away tittering with the same child who hurt her while the teacher was terrorizing her saviour for helping her. Sobbing, she approached him as her best friend and neighbour Pravin threw out her umbrella through the window. He consoled her and assured her that he would get it for her and instantly dashed back with the umbrella, flashing a victorious smile. As he gladly handed it over to her, the fuming teacher who appeared from nowhere asked, "You two went out?". Pointing at him, Deepti replied, "No, I didn't. It's him", and joyously left, giggling along with Pravin, holding his hand. While fiercely reprimanded by the teacher for venturing out, he could see her blissfully playing in the sandbox with her best friend.
The kid didn't understand why the cutely chubby Daffene was cruelly jeered at by most kids when she accidentally lost her bowel control and defecated in the class. While he sat beside her to console her, bewildered, he watched the dramatically cheerful commotion with the kids running around helter-skelter, covering their noses, bawling "Chakka thoori"(Jackfruit defecated). Chakka is Jackfruit, and plump people often get taunted with that term. Though poor Daffene put up a brave face, he knew she would burst out crying any moment.
He realized that traits are just inherent, and it has nothing to do with upbringing. He didn't believe that the parents of those kids taught them to behave that way. He felt that his world of ladybirds, butterflies, bugs and beetles is a far better place. He never felt hurt by an ant bite or a bee sting, but though he's known at his home and the whole neighbourhood as 'the child who never cries', all the incidents left scars in his heart.
Anyway, with all the bitter experiences, he slowly developed a dislike for the place. Finally, he told his mom that he no longer wish to go to that place. She informed dad, and they both came to his bed at night. Lifting the mosquito net, they both sat on the bed, and mindful of a child's apprehensions and worries, they asked," Is there anything that troubles you in the class?". The kid couldn't provide an immediate explanation, so he just repeated that he doesn't like the place. Desperate to solve the issue, they dissected and particularized the question. "Is someone troubling or misbehaving with you? ". The answer, "Yes", led to the questions, "Who?, How?". The kid couldn't find any immediate answer, so he lied, " The teacher called me a pig". "WHAT?! How dare she?!". Dad sprung up, fuming. He assured him he'll take care of the issue and asked the child not to worry before they tucked the net inside the mattress and left. The child remained sleepless for a while as the teacher never called him any such names, and he lied to his parents. His innocent intention was the simple expectation that his parents would stop sending him to such a nasty place.
The following day he was taken to the nursery, and Sister Atlee was ready to teach a new song. The girls held either side of the bottom edge of their half skirts and swayed their hips left and right to sing:
The boys held either side of the bottom edge of their shorts and, swaying the same way sang,
Abruptly, the swaying laddie felt a lightning bolt through his heart when he saw his dad at the door with a group of nuns and the teacher. After talking to him, the teacher came running towards the kids with an alarmed face. He wished he could go this way or that way as the teacher took him to his dad. On the verge of tears, she asked, "Anuj, did I call you a pig?". The kid replied, " Er, ahem, well...No". "My child won't lie. Maybe someone else", said his dad. "Then, who? Is it Maggie?" asked the teacher. The kid looked around, and he didn't find Maggie anywhere nearby. His head bent downwards, he nodded and thought the issue is solved, and the matter would be closed. Oh no! There comes Maggie! Another face on the verge of tears, the same question and a lengthy " Yo, um, uh, er, ahem, well...No" as the answer. Thankfully, his dad thought of leaving it there, and he left after advising the teacher to be more careful with kids.
Though the kid regretted having lied, he was glad that the teacher became more amicable and mature than the kids after that incident.
Along with 'education' and experiences, though all kids slowly get acclimatized and move along with the flow, some kids merely grow up, some kids learn and remain immature, some kids mature but never learn, and the story goes on.