Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mone porchhe bole.

I am afraid there are not sentences special enough to describe one small yellow building in Calcutta—my very own, personal, yellow brick road. I want to write down a few (wholly unsatisfactory) lines primarily so that I don’t forget; so that when I am eighty, I can still remember and dance a little arthritic jig, scoffing at the poor souls who never got to experience the magic that is my school.
      I remember the first day of high school. I remember the frayed nerves, the sleepy assembly line. I remember singing ‘Sotyomongolo premomoyo tumi…’ with gutso and I remember being inordinately proud of my blue checked uniform, tugging the collar into place every two minutes, brushing imaginary dust off the sleeves. I remember the last day of high school. I remember the photo ops, the flooding of our classroom with water from our water bottles, the scolding we got from our class teacher because of that. I remember the deep breath I took when I stepped out of the premises that day. I remember the last time I turned back to look at the yellow building and the sudden difficulty in breathing—the heroic brushing away of nyaka tears. (I was from Patha Bhavan. I was very particular about not being perceived as nyaka.)
     School was scraped knees and broken hearts and mended hearts and incredible classes and being turned out of the classroom for talking too much. School was brilliant class teachers and the beginning of my love for English literature. School was forgotten homework and sahityo sabha and annual exams. School was the smell of chelpark ink. School was tanker ghor and tero nombor ghor and fights about who would be the school monitor. School was the safe refuge. School was the strict taskmaster. School was Bosonto Utsab and Brikkho Ropon Utsab and Satyajit Mela. School was Nalanda. (Not Bikramshila. Never Bikramshila). School was sports practice at Vivekananda Park and orange ice candies during breaks. School was annual exams and innumerable class tests and sweaty teentolar classroom. School was bus line and home line. School was Motichand da and Notobor da. School was kochuri from Shaila Sweets and phuchka from the Ballygunge Pharry crossing. School was Malory Towers and Nishchindipur and Wonderland and Aamtoli and Jaamtoli and Tetultoli and Hogwarts and bhoot potrir desh all rolled into one.