(New school? Let’s see how kind it is to me. But, whatever, it was just a matter of few days…)
I was a talented kid back then, so talented that I had a perfect score in my second year of kindergarten. Thus, my parents decided to make a leap of one year of kindergarten. So, one fine morning, I was made to sit in the first bench inside a classroom which had “Grade One” board hanging at its door. New student I was. Being a new student in a senior’s class was in itself quite scary. Though, I waited trying hard to seem as cool and calm as I could.
Few moments later, two girls came. They made an awkward stare and sat behind me. They started making silent, stroppy murmurs. Probably it was an intense gossip about the new junior in their class. I was not feeling comfortable at all sitting in the first bench and hearing buzzes from my behind. I got up and moved to the corner of the last bench. Then a guy came in. He was a tall, lean, fair looking guy with curly black hair and a spectacles resting on his nose. He also gave that unusual look to me and took my previous seat. The teacher entered the class, same teacher with whom my mother was talking few moments earlier. She was our class teacher, maybe. We greeted her. That curly headed guy complimented about her beauty. “Samriddhi ma’am” was the name by which he addressed her. She blushed and hugged that boy with lots of love. Sameer was his name. Looking at the manner she hugged him, I thought that she might be his sister or aunt or something like that at that moment which I later found that it was no more than an assumption. And how cheesy person he was. After Samriddhi ma’am took her seat in her chair, he slightly looked back to me, or us and smirked. It was a grin of pride. He made it seem like he had accomplished great achievement in his life. His attitude already disgusted me.
“Sameer”, the teacher announced with her eyes stuck on her attendant’s book.
“Yes, ma’am”, he proved his presence in the class by raising his hand.
“How disrespectful he is. He didn’t even stand up when his name was called. All the students of my previous school were so behaved. And look at him.”, I thought.
“Yes, ma’am”, one of those two gossiping girls spoke out. She also didn’t stand up and didn’t even raise her hands. From the first moment I saw her, I noticed her picking her nose multiple times. She looked so dirty. Her hair wasn’t even combed properly. Her dress looked old and messy. And a little bit of mucus always remained in between her nose and lips. She was eww.
“Yes”, Sahara’s friend responded. She didn’t even address “ma’am”. She was a stick thin girl. I would say she looked very mean. Probably because of her tone she spoke with or the look she had given me earlier.
My name was not Neelam and except me, nobody else was in the class. So there was a silence for some seconds. “Absent”, Sameer broke the silence.
“Junu” It was me. As a behaved, nice, talented girl, I took a time to stand up, raise my hand straight and before I spoke anything, Samriddhi ma’am called my name again, “Junu”. Everyone turned their heads around. I said “Present ma’am” in a low pitch.
She didn’t even ask me to sit down which I was waiting until she closed her attendance book, stood up, erased the board and then looked at me and questioned, “What made you stand?” I was actually expecting her to ask me to sit down which my previous teachers used to do. But I didn’t say anything and silently sat down. And about the class, was that it? I was perplexed about the total number of students only being five in the attendance book. We used to have at least 20-30 students in a class in Itahari. And here, the class had just a handful of students. I felt quite sad thinking there were only four people I had to deal with the whole year, three of whom I already didn’t have promising affinity.
“May I come in ma’am”, it was a girl’s voice. A tall girl with thick short hair, fair complexion and nice body was standing at the door. She was beautiful and neat, and her voice was respectful and sweet, just like my friend in Itahari. I liked her. She came in and sat beside Sameer after the teacher allowed her to come in. Now I didn’t like her. She was a friend with that arrogant kid. After some words she had with Sameer, she turned her head around to look at me. I immediately looked the other side, as I had been looking at her from the very beginning.
“Students, take out your Math’s book and turn the page number as directed on the board.” Samridhhi ma’am who turned out to be a math teacher announced in a very unpleasant sound. It seemed as if she was yelling every time she uttered a word. I didn’t have any books. She noticed it. She then finally introduced me in the class. She also told everyone about my one-year leap of my UKG. She then asked Sapana to lend me her book for today. She didn’t have one. Ma’am screamed at her for forgetting her book and yes, scared the hell out of me. So, Neha had to hand me her book. Samriddhi ma’am sounded even more harsh when she warned us about how necessary it was to remain in discipline the whole year. “Witch”, I whispered slowly.
So, the time was escaping. Math period was over. After Samriddhi ma’am left the class, Neha came to me and asked for her book. I handed it thanking her with a smile. Returning a smile, she then turned to go back to her place. My smile might have seemed little friendly that she again shared a glance at me with a smile and came to sit beside me for a while. We shared each other’s name and then she asked why I leaped my class. When I said that the reason was my talent, she was quite unsatisfied. She asked me about my percentage. “100”, I said. She was a bit shocked and didn’t believe me. I told her that I was serious. She stood up and went back to her own seat and maybe told it to the rest of the students of the class. No I didn’t hear any of those huddle but the moment she said something to the crowd, each and everyone looked at me one by one. I had to be proud in a way somehow because all she might have told was my perfect score and they were just inspired of me, maybe. But I didn’t feel good about myself at that moment. I was instead quite uncomfortable for they were looking at me as if I was an alien, as if I came from another world.
“Good morning ma’am”, everybody got up. A young lady with spectacles entered. With the most generous smile, she told everybody to take their seat. “Hey, are you a new student?” Wow she actually noticed me. “Yes, ma’am”, I responded. “Oh, are you that student who took a leap?” I smiled and nodded. “You must be Junu then. Students, she is a very talented girl. Everybody, cooperate with her. She had topped her class before with a perfect score. Be nice to her, okay?” Oh my god. She was nice and sweet. I felt so happy and proud. She even told others to behave nicely with me. “Junu, I am your science and English teacher. My name is Rasika.” She became my favorite teacher straightaway.
It was soon lunch period. The school provided lunch to all the students. I was happy with this system as I didn’t have to eat boring homemade food which mom used to take to her work. Everybody stood in a line. The sister was distributing the lunch to everyone. Soon, it was my turn. There she placed the plate in my hand. The delicious lunch which I had been expecting of turned out to be a damp squib. The plate had a boiled egg, few pieces of papaya, a glass of milk with a cream layer on its top and bread jam. Except bread and jam I would have never chosen those foods to eat. So this new school didn’t only have a squeaky class teacher and hostile classmates for me but also a horrible lunch pack. Still I knew that this won’t last very long and I will soon get rid of all these things. So I was not that disappointed.
(…but I was her brave girl and brave girls don’t face any kind of problems and certainly not cry over those problems. She had asked me if I was fine. I lied…)
to be continued...