The jungle gym is, by far, the coolest thing in my school. It is red and a little rusty and sometimes, totally off-limits. But every day, particularly during recess, I perch myself on the topmost rung and gaze around like an indulgent queen, and refuse to get down.
Our classroom is at the end of a corridor, right besides the staircase. I sit near the window, and like the proverbial scatterbrained character in any book, I like to look out. Sometimes I spy some lady hanging out her washing across the street, and mutter "chhotto meye roddure day begni ronger saree..." to myself. My friends think I'm crazy.
One day, Bhaswati miss, my scary Class Four teacher, decides to read to us. It is a hot day. The shades are drawn against the Calcutta summer, and the sun makes strange patterns on the floor. The ceiling fan whirrs above. Somewhere in the distance, a Roddiwala cries his trade cry. Miss perches herself on the teacher's desk, turns her beady eyes to the class, clears her throat and turns the first page. "Darrell Rivers looked at herself in the mirror..." she starts.
After that day, the jungle gym is abandoned. Because I discover Enid Blyton, and my life, as I know it, changes for ever.