"Nature sometimes sears a sapling"
She never knew how difficult it is to face the shudders of life. She was forever among the cozy comforts of filial embrace. All she was used to until now was the adoration and admonitions from Ma and Deta. She never understood what was going wrong but years later she had to sit, retrospect and introspect for she wanted to know the purpose of all that happened.
A Monday afternoon in St Joseph's convent, class one B, Miss Deepa writes some questions and answers on the huge black board in fat round letters and announces in her husky voice "Copy all these in your class work copies after you come back from practice. No rubbing the board. Understood?" Now, comes the divine chorus from the enchanted souls in a sliding tone "Yess, Miss", the tone keeps sliding for about eight seconds. The school bell rings and the commotion begins. The inmates of class one B disperse like a handful of wheat scattered while feeding pigeons. Miss Deepa collects her piece of chalk, the attendance register and her text book, adjusts her glasses and walks towards the staff room.
The school bell rings again, the same commotion happens but this time the children are settling back on their chairs and anticipating the wrath that is bound to fall upon them. Miss Deepa walks in, apparently after redoing her makeup, places the assortment of copies and pens on the desk, glances at the board and yells "Who rubbed the board, haan? Who? Tell me who?" The class goes numb as the seventy five odd kids stare at their teacher and then at the huge black board. Miss Deepa continues her interrogation, "Ritu did youdo this? Tell me who did this and I'm gonna beat her up black and blue. Cummon now, tell me, tell before I start slapping you." Ritu Moni thinks for a moment, and feels the stares of everyone in the class. Being the locus of attention now is the time to do or die. Ritu points her finger at her, the monitor, sitting clueless trying to understand what all is going on in the class. Suddenly, all the seventy five eyes and most prominently Miss Deepa starts scanning her. All she hears herself saying is "No, I didn't." “Who else saw her doing this?” Nipsha, the captain of the class shakes her head and mutters “I saw. She did.” Some more people in the class joins the alliance of witness against her.
In the next two seconds, she finds herself in front of the class, with Miss Deepa exhibiting her slapping proficiency. Continuous slaps on each cheek and after every slap Miss Deepa asks, “Did you rub the board?” The answer is “No, I didn’t” Miss Deepa reiterates “Class, tell me she did” The class says “Yes, she did”. The fateful child drenched in tears, cheeks red from the slaps repeats "No, Miss, I didn't". This continues for about half an hour before everyone gets tired including the teacher. All the more tired, the poor child has to give up. Finally, she agrees “Yes” after a bit of struggle. In a triumphant note, Miss Deepa confirms,
“So you rubbed the board huh? You were lying before weren’t you?"
“No, I wasn’t lying Miss”
“You just said that you did” Slap!!
“Yes, I said I did but I didn’t lie before” Snobs!
“Lier! Say, you rubbed the board” Slap
The bell rings, this was the last period and now it’s the time to say the final prayer and leave for home. “Well, well, the day’s over, pack your bags, the lier stays back and the rest can say your prayers” “Our father in heaven holy be your name……”
This was the scene that happened that day at that very moment. However, simultaneous things were happening and the writer of this piece happened to realize all these simultaneous pieces that were real significant to the incident or we may call it “accident” much later.
The victim of her teacher’s wrath, the six year old child kept trying to understand what exactly went wrong. “Did I rub the board in spite of my teacher asking not to” After contemplating for a while, (I don’t exactly remember when), she actually remembered a vision of Nipsha, the captain of the class, rubbing the board. She was also reminded of a quarrel she engaged in with Ritu Moni that very afternoon during the practice session, the in house hooligan of the class.
"Copy all these in your class work copies after you come back from practice. No rubbing the board. Understood?"
The school bell, the commotion and the practice session. This practice session was the rehearsal going on for a group performance on the Superior’s feast day. She was a part of this and so was Ritu Moni with whom she had a quarrel a couple days ago. With whom does Ritu not quarrel? Nipsha was viewing the entire rehearsal from the threshold of the class. She wasn’t selected for the performance.
Miss Deepa comes back from the staff room with other teachers. “Girls, let’s practice how to leave the stage at the end of the dance, ok? Prathna, you lead the first line, the next line, Nabonita you take a turn and then bow and them go to the center of the stage and then turn back, Archita, while she goes to the center of the stage, the rest come exactly to this point, not a step back not a step front. Exactly at this step, every one remembers this or I am gonna beat you up black and blue. Let’s set and go!”
Just as the performance is over, some kids miss the instructions and receive their well deserved raps, smacks and whacks. The fateful child of the day was one of them. Ritu’s yet to set her quarrel with her……
Flasback 2: "Who rubbed the board, haan? Who? Tell me who?" The class goes numb as the seventy five odd kids stare at their teacher and then at the huge black board. Miss Deepa continues her interrogation, "Ritu,did you do this? Tell me who did this and I'm gonna beat her up black and blue. Cummon now, tell me, tell before I start slapping you." Ritu Moni thinks for a moment, and feels the stares of everyone in the class. Being the locus of attention now is the time to do or die. She thought, “Strike while the iron is hot.” Ritu points her finger at her, the monitor, sitting clueless trying to understand what all is going on in the class.
Years later, the fateful child, was able to join the dots....