Reminiscence (Chapter 11 – Chapter 14)

(Baldness, Humiliation, Bullies, Acceptance, Chameleonic point of views, ……, Bleh!! it’s a NIGHTMARE )

Chapter 11

Neha gathered Sameer, Sapana and Amrita and narrated them whatever happened in the assembly even though I had strictly specified her not to do so. Sameer jumped over the desks and benches and took off my cap in one go. It was so quick that I didn’t even realize what happened. The class burst out laughing. They called me a boy. They put their all efforts in teasing me through different styles. It was dreadful. I almost peed in my pants.

The laughter stopped when Samriddhi ma’am entered the class. But my nightmare had just begun. That day, the news about my baldness spread like a fume all over the school. Even the people I didn’t know started mocking me. Everybody started being against me. I had nobody on my side. Later I knew the person who had publicized this knowledge was Neha. Neha, the same girl who I thought was a very nice kind girl, the only person I liked in my class became the sole reason for my public humiliation. I never felt so helpless that day, not even when I came to Kathmandu.

I came home shattered. I wanted to cry as loud as I could, but I couldn’t. I wanted to share it to somebody. I found nobody who could listen it. I wanted to run away from this very place. This place gave me only griefs and deep pits from which, I thought, I could never come out. I didn’t speak a word with anyone about the incident that happened with me in the school until dad asked me about it. He asked what my friends and teachers said about me in the school. I just told him I was made fun of and they were no good to me. I poured my anger and dissatisfaction to him in the best way I could. He then started lecturing about the need to be strong. He was advising me not to take the help of my cap from now onwards and confidently face anyone who came in between me and my self-esteem. He suggested me to complain teachers if anyone teased me. Who in the world would tell him not one, not two, not the students, but the whole school ridiculed me. Who would tell him that I felt naked without my hair. It was so easy for him to suggest me to remain strong but the absence of my hair had already dethroned my self-confidence to let alone fight anyone, but even to face anyone.

The nightmare took its pace when the Samriddhi ma’am instructed everyone to bring passport sized photo the next day. I didn’t have them and I had to click a new picture of myself that day. That eventually meant that the picture of a bald me would be in the school register as my record. That was even more embarrassing. My mark sheets, my certificates, my record, everything would bear that picture. I couldn’t let that happen. So, I took my photo albums and started searching for the best fit photo for the next day. There was not a single picture which was possible to cut and turn into a passport sized photo. With a little luck, I found one which showed all facial features clearly and was small as well. The only problem was that it was a bit inclined. To bring it to the size, I had to cut a little bit of ear in the photo. But, with a hope that the teacher would accept the photo, I went with that cut picture of mine. Sadly, the teacher demanded another photo, the real passport size photo which was not inclined and which showed all of me till neck.

I told my parents about it and they clicked a picture of mine to take it for printing in the studio. Despite all my energies, there was me with a pair of a passport sized photo of a girl with no hair and no front two teeth. When I handed that photo to the teacher, she refused to take it for my records. I was relieved a bit. She asked Sameer, who was in the first row of the class to hand it over to me. Then came the disaster. A little moment of my relief could also not be tolerated by the people around me. They kept one of the copy of the photo with themselves and passed me only one. They made fun of me looking at the picture and giving me number of glances. I noticed the copy was in Neha’s hand. She then showed that picture to all people she knew in the school and maybe to everyone she knew. I remained as a piece of joke in the whole school, or should I say, in the whole community.

Mom had promised me that the hair would regrow in less than 10 days. But, except the skin-colored scalp turning into black, nothing like that happened. After few days, I learnt to live bald and also accept myself like that. But the world around me didn’t. I remember when I went in one of my grandma’s house. She playfully asked the whereabouts of my two missing teeth. I told her that it was the mouse who took my teeth. She laughed. Seeing her laughing, I also told her that the mouse took my hair with it as well and slightly took off my cap to show her my head without hair with the intention of adding some more humor. She turned away and asked me to put on my cap. Her expression was even more dramatic than the expression I had when I saw a video of operation for an internal injury. That grandma who was very fond of me now turned her face away from me contracting her facial muscles after seeing my empty head. That was irony.

Days passed. Soon I had hair in my head. The baldness finally let go of me but its memories never deserted me or the people around me. It had clearly left a very deep mark in my life which none of the people related to my life ever forgot and neither they let me do so. From that incident, I was never considered as, say, a respectable person in the class at least for my classmates. I was boycotted more in the class, either inside the classroom or in the playground.

Chapter 12

Soon, it was the examination time. I did my best and after a week, the results were published. Sameer topped the class followed by Neha and then I stood third. Sapana and Amrita followed me respectively. The day after the result announcement, Samriddhi ma’am was not in time in our class. That day all the four mates gathered and surrounded me. I think it was bullying what they did after that. They were furious at me because the junior girl who leaped a class, who had bald head few weeks ago, who had no friends in the school was a competitor for everyone in the class. They were not satisfied because I didn’t fail to be talented enough to stand third in the class. They literally, started pulling my hair, throwing my bags, books and so on. I was angry and very upset at the same time. They were not less than monsters for me. They were four and I was one. I could do nothing but threaten them.

Just then, Samriddhi ma’am entered the class. No one noticed her and maybe she understood what was going on in the class. She scolded everyone and helped me collect my bag and books. I felt so bad that I burst into tears. Samriddhi ma’am took me to the staff room and asked me to describe whatever happened in the class. I couldn’t utter a word out resisting my sob. She wrapped me with her arms and consoled me. I blubbered even louder. Then, I told her everything about that day. She encouraged me saying that they were just jealous about my talent and instead of crying, I should fight my tears and top the whole class next time. She became my support in the class. When we went back to class, she wrathfully threatened everyone that if their actions were found to be repeated again, they would be severely punished. Everyone passed their looks to each other and apologized to me on ma’am’s order.

That day, after the first period, Amrita asked me if she could seat next to me from now onwards. I hadn’t forgotten what happened to me few moments ago. I ignored her. She said that she was really sorry for whatever happened and also added that she didn’t intend to hurt me in any way and it was others who forced her to be a part of it. She seemed real. I wanted to believe her. So I moved a bit towards left giving her a little space in my bench. She shifted her belongings from Sapana’s place to mine. While doing so, the rest of the people gave an angry look to her. That day, she and I became friends on real terms. It’s not that she broke all the ties with her other friends but she dared to go against others and became my friend as well. Because Rasika ma’am was absent that day, the sister took us to play in the ground. Amrita and I did lots of fun. That was the first time I enjoyed school.

Next day, Samriddhi ma’am discussed about the first term examination which we recently passed. One by one, she asked answers of the questions to everyone. I was only the one who answered all the questions she asked correctly. I had secured full marks in Mathematics in exam. She praised me in front of all the students. Admiration from Samriddhi ma’am was unexpected and I was really encouraged by her words. She even challenged rest of the students from my side that I was capable of standing first in the class leaving everyone behind. My self confidence started boosting up.

Rasika ma’am arrived after the bell rang. She was in a very bad mood. She announced everyone’s marks and screamed her head off complaining about the unsatisfying result. She made everyone stand up the whole class and asked the answers of different questions until we lost the battle. Because Sapana and Amrita didn’t secure good marks i.e below 80 in her subjects, she called both of them forward and opened up their dresses. They pleaded her to spare them for once, but Rasika ma’am wasn’t in the state of listening to anyone. Even I felt like crying when they were crying and asking for forgiveness. The way she undressed them was so inhuman that I couldn’t stop myself to ask Rasika ma’am to stop it and even asked forgiveness on their behalf. She instead raged over me and threatened doing the same with me if I uttered one more word. At last, she did whatever she intended to do in the first place and Sapana and Amrita ended up holding their ears with crossed hands, naked in front of the class. The junior class was just beside our class. Rasika ma’am opened the door of the nearby class as well. That class laughed their heart out after seeing them naked. Rasika ma’am also warned everyone saying she would so the same who are disobedient to her from now onwards.

I was shocked. I was terrified. I was disheartened more because it was Rasika ma’am who did it and less because of the extent of the punishment. Rasika ma’am who I thought was a very kind and sweet woman, turned out to be a monster. I had never imagined that she even possessed this side of her. Samriddhi ma’am who was not less than a witch for me few months ago was actually a nice person. Even though she squeaked, she exactly knew how to show up among students. Likewise, Neha who I admired months ago turned out to be a wolf to me and Amrita who I thought was mean and rude was a sweetheart in real. I was amazed at how the perception can go wrong within just a few moments. I regretted judging people at the first sight and not waiting for knowing the actual person behind that appearance.

 

Chapter 13

Meanwhile, Dashain was approaching us. This time we were not going to Itahari for celebrating the festive as grandparents were no longer in Itahari. Vacation was waiting for us. With the vacation, there was vacation homework as well. The homework was answering all the questions of the first term examination. That was a bit long one.

This time Dashain was not too amusing. The multiple hands that used to be on my forehead were missing this time. Neither grandparents nor any uncle and aunt were with us this time. We went to few relatives to put tika and our Dashain was over. Except my parents, only Yami, my cousin, was the new member in our house. Yami had come to stay in our home because she menstruated for the first time then. There is a ritual here that whenever a girl first menstruates, they are not allowed to sit in their home and are strictly prohibited to be involved in any kind of functions, rituals, forget festivals. They are almost considered untouchable. Because it was Dashain time where many holy rituals are conducted in home and that we didn’t put tika in our home that year, Yami’s mother sent her to our house.

I had been procrastinating my assignments throughout the whole vacation, so in the last few days of the vacation, I had been very busy with my assignments with no assurance of finishing it before the deadline. However, Yami was there with me. She offered me to do all my remaining works. I was not sure if our handwritings would not seem different and distinguishable. But she assured me to copy my handwriting while doing my assignments. She was fast, she was elder than me i.e she knew all the answers correctly. I agreed. Except for few changes in the ‘a’ and ‘g’, I didn’t find much difference in our handwritings.

Chapter 14

The school was about to resume and till then Yami also went back to her home and my eldest uncle was home. He was going to live with us from now.

Samriddhi ma’am organized a discussion of our holidays in the first day of our class since the vacation. Except that, she took all the assignments of the class and started doing corrections. I was not certain that she wouldn’t smell something fishy with my assignment. I was fortunate and I got my assignment back with a remark ‘Excellent’ in it.

It was Rasika ma’am’s period and I was not that afraid this time as the handwriting had already passed through Samriddhi ma’am’s eyes. But the doubt hadn’t completely vanished from my mind. After stepping in, the first thing she did was collecting homeworks. Everybody handed their exercise books to her. My assignment was forth in the pile after Sapana’s, Amrita’s and Sameer’s. She took her seat in the chair at the front which had “TEACHER” specification on it in the form of a small plate. Soon she began turning the pages starting her correction.

Sapana and Amrita had given the exercise book without any work done. Furious Rasika ma’am had only one kind of punishment in her mind which she thought was effective. They were undressed and made to stand at the door straightaway. I immediately regretted not doing my homework by myself. They were without panties that day as well. Missing their assignments and standing undressed in front of  two classes weren’t the only reasons for Sapana’s and Amrita’s humiliation. The missing inner-wear became even greater gossip to laugh at them. And after more emphasis on the last reason by the great Rasika ma’am herself, Sapana and Amrita became the “no-panties” personality for the rest of the years in the school. I remember when they were once compelled to prove that they were on their panties in the later days of school. I don’t know why this thing was made such a great issue, that too by a teacher. Anyways, coming back to the point, that day when the rest of the class was bursting out of laughter, I sat their frozen and still, less because of the risk of getting caught for not doing the assignment by myself and more because of Sapana’s and Amrita’s situation at that moment. That day, when everyone’s eyes were moist out of a rambunctious laugh, mine were out of the severe pity and compassion for their misfortune.

After whatever happened, she started going through Sameer’s assignment. Most of the time of the class was already spent on punishing the girls. Now I was hoping my best for the period to be over before she finished Sameer’s correction. But when had the god listened to my prayer since I had come to Kathmandu. She took no time to finish his copy and shift to mine. She opened the copy and started moving her pen’s nib through the paper. Then she ceased all of a sudden. She turned all the pages, previous one, later one, gazed them, compared, maybe, and then looked at me and asked, “Who did your assignments?”

 

(…I couldn’t defend myself any further…she dragged me out of the bench to the front…it wouldn’t be the same fight against the two… )

 

to be continued...
Advertisements

Reminiscence (Chapter 9 – Chapter 10)

(Kathmandu, School, Outfit, Handwriting, and OOPS! even Hairstyle, Beginning of DISASTERS…)

Chapter 9

Facing the most inimical school was more distressing than living with my parents. I wanted to run away from this very place. It was already a week since my aunt left and there was no sign of my grandparents. Whenever I asked my parents about my departure, they used to divert the topic. Days passed, weeks passed and yet this life didn’t spare me. Now I didn’t trust my parents anymore, so I secretly called my aunt. When I asked her about my grandparents, she said that they were not there and already went India for their treatment. She even added that she also had to move to another city and Itahari had only my uncle implying that I couldn’t go back to Itahari until my grandparents return Nepal. I had so many things inside my heart to tell her. I wanted to tell her all about my difficulties and my loneliness but I was her brave girl and brave girls don’t face any kind of problems and certainly not cry over those problems. She did ask me if I was fine. I lied.

Now that I was going to live here in Kathmandu, I had to mold according to a new lifestyle. The first change in my life except the people around me was my dresses. Dad went through all the dresses I had in my bag and started sorting out. While doing so, he put aside almost all the nice dresses I had in my bag including the denim skirts, the princess frock and the glittery green kurtha suruwal which were dearest to me. I was already going to miss my green frock that I had kept in aunt’s suitcase and now this. He even excluded beautiful bangles I had. He also didn’t spare my sandals and heels, thank god, he didn’t boycott my pink gown and a pair of silver anklets from my closet. The worst part was that he replaced all my girly clothes with boyish clothes. He bought t-shirts, baggy pants, sorts, vests, and sports shoes for me. The next change in my life was my handwriting. My parents were not quite satisfied with my manuscript style. So they brought me a cursive handwriting learning routine.

Third change in my life was obviously my lifestyle. I remember when we used to go for lunch, dinner in restaurants occasionally when in Itahari which never happened since I came Kathmandu. Uncle used to bring me chocolates some days. Aunt used to take me to have panipuri and chatpate. We used to go in a small trip during our holidays. They used to play with me during the weekends. Almost every day, I used to go the nearest playground to play with my neighborhood friends. And very often, aunt’s relatives, uncle’s friends, or somebody like that came to visit us or we would go to them. Here, the case was totally opposite. Every weekday, dad used to come home at dusk and mom just before I returned home. After they were home, either they used to lay down and take rest saying they were tired or start doing the household chores, or be in front of the TV. Whatever talks we had, they used to be all about my studies or to-be improved behaviors. In the weekends, we all used to take sunbath or my dad used to take care of the positioning of different things in the house, and so on. I had no friends around the house, no friends in the school, no exciting works to do, no life at all. We never went somewhere out of the house to take a break. Even if we had gone somewhere, it was some relative’s place where I had to sit in a corner, smile and greet everyone I met and eat whatever they gave me while my mom did all the interactions with these new people. The chocolate craves used to be fulfilled only if some kind-hearted people who knew my parents see me and give it to me. Panipuri and chatpate was a poison in this place. Nothing remained like my earlier life. Yeah, one of the changes was for greater good. Unlike my grandparents and aunt, mom used to heat the water before bathing me. I actually always had a problem with taking a bath with cold water which I no longer had to worry about in Kathmandu.

 

Chapter 10

The scariest transformation in my life was my hairstyle. I had quite nice hair. My hair was cut short obviously but at least I had hair in my head. In Kathmandu, I had to loose hold of my hair as well. One fine morning, my mom took me to salon and shaved my head. Why didn’t I revolt? Well, I was told that there would be just some hair trimming and soon salon session would be over. But, what happened was, when I sat in that tall chair, the barber asked me to close my eyes to prevent the tiny hairs entering my eyes. Well, I was an obedient girl. I did the same. Just after a minute or so, I peeked into the mirror slowly. I freaked out. Half of my head was shaved. I looked around, my mother was standing right beside me. So the barber wasn’t really at fault. He was ordered to do so. I cried and fought in all possible ways. I even scolded the barber not to touch my hair anymore. I jumped out of the chair. My mom came near me trying to handle me. She said after shaving my head, the new hair would grow thick, black and beautiful but I pushed her away. I wanted to run away in the cheetah’s speed and lock myself in my room and never come back. But I didn’t want to face anyone in the way either. Gradually, the barber persuaded me that if I didn’t let him shave all my head, I would look more horrible. With a heavy heart, I let him proceed his work. My self-confidence was teared up so haphazardly that I couldn’t even look into myself. I piled up my pieces in one place and didn’t dare to face anyone until when my school days resumed.

I didn’t want to show up anywhere and definitely not in that school. The school had never been good to me since I joined it and I was sure it would be worse if the people saw the bald version of me. But I went. I had to go. There was no choice. One precaution I took was that I put a cap in my head. Thank god, it was somewhat cool weather. So without talking with anyone, I entered my class and took my seat. The assembly bell rang. Rasika ma’am came in asking everyone to attend the assembly. I observed each and everyone in the assembly. Nobody had caps in their head except me. I was scared already for the teachers might ask me to take off my cap and I would be exposed. Though, I held myself strong. The assembly was soon done with the national anthem, prayers, and school song. As it was Sunday, the neatness checking started in the assembly. Samriddhi ma’am was our class teacher. She started checking cut nails, polished shoes, ironed dress, brushed teeth, and alas! She even checked the plaited hair with ribbons. I went numb. My legs couldn’t hold my body weight properly. My neck and mouth went dry. Heart beat like drum. Samriddhi ma’am soon came near me. I showed her nails. I had cut it just the day before. Shoes were shining black. Dad had polished and dried in the sun. My dress was also neat and ironed. Now, she asked me to take off my cap to see my braided hair. I denied. She yelled at me, however I didn’t change my decision. She began to take off my cap by herself, but I pulled it downwards. However, her strength was more than mine. She pulled the cap little upwards, as she couldn’t take out all of it. She gasped in shock.

Without speaking anything, Samriddhi ma’am stared at me and went at the front giggling. I was still relieved that nobody except her saw me bald. She went in the stage and whispered something to Rasika ma’am chuckling. Then Rasika ma’am widened her eyes, raising her brows and then laughed giving a glare at me. Maybe, I wasn’t the only one to notice all these.

Neha, who was standing behind me had also taken the notice of all that happened. On our way to the class, she asked me what happened. I said that it was nothing. She asked me to tell her and tried to assure that she won’t tell anybody. She was a nice girl but I couldn’t reveal anything to her as well. I just told her not to say anything about the assembly to anyone in the class. I silently took my seat.

(…I wanted to share it to somebody but I found nobody who could listen it. I wanted to run away from this very place but there was really no escape. This place gave me only griefs and deep pits from which, I thought, I could never come out… )

to be continued...

 

Reminiscence (Chapter 7 – Chapter 8)

(New school? Let’s see how kind it is to me. But, whatever, it was just a matter of few days…)

Chapter 7

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.

“Sahara”

“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.

“Alisha”

“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.

“Neelam”

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.

 

Chapter 8

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...

 

Reminiscence (Chapter 4 to Chapter 6)

(Had to leave Itahari, but permanently? I doubt….)

Chapter 4

The plane was ready to take off and I was holding her hand, not because, I was afraid of the plane taking off but because I was afraid that she would leave me at the last moment. She didn’t betray, however. I knew that it was necessary for her to attend her work but still she was with me. During the whole plane ride, the disappointment of leaving Itahari was the only thing hovering my head. I was hoping some miracles to happen in the plane so that we could return back to Itahari, like I wanted the weather to go bad, or some emergency to come up so that we shouldn’t have to go Kathmandu. But nothing like that happened anyway. I tried to distract myself by grabbing handful of chocolates from the air hostess and having them one by one. The plane landed and my heart pounded, pounded to meet my own parents.

Phew! Even after so many prayers for not reaching Kathmandu, I happened to breathe in the air of the Kathmandu city: the city of dreams (which was a city of disappointment for me though). Aunt took me to the taxi when there was no sign of my parents. But just after I stepped inside the taxi, two heads showed up through the window.

“Junu”, they said with the widest grin in their face. “Junu”: the name given by my uncle. Well, earlier, my name was Muna. The priest had named me “Muna” during my naming ceremony. It was a quite nice name compared to other names the people got during their naming ceremony. That was the time when the tea brand “Muna Chiya” had stolen the market of tea through advertisements and other marketing techniques. My grandma says that everybody used to tease me as my name matched a tea brand and because I came home upset at it, my uncle decided to change my name. After that, I was no longer Muna.

Yes, there were my parents, who were very happy to see me. But there was also me whose whole body was getting numb to see them. Ah! Thank god I was going with my aunt in the taxi and not with my parents. So I came home. My luggage was unloaded from the taxi and taken to our home and I guess same happened to me.

Few days passed. I didn’t have to face much problem in adjusting in Kathmandu as I had my aunt with me all the time. It was already middle of the night. I woke up from my sleep. When I didn’t find my aunt beside me I followed the direction from where little buzzes were hitting my ears. My parents and my aunt were having a conversation, serious one maybe. I stood there with the intention of eavesdropping their talk. They were talking about aunt going back to Itahari. I was devastated.

 

Chapter 5

I had come to Kathmandu with a condition that my aunt would also come to live with me. I had come here thinking we all were going to live together. But now I found that it was a false prediction. All my expectations were drowning. My beloved aunt was going to leave me forever with two aliens whom I had to address as my parents. But just to be sure, I directly went to her and asked if she was really going back. She couldn’t say no. Sensing the expression of a betrayed person in me, she immediately handled the situation. She said she had to leave Kathmandu the next day as some urgent work came upon her suddenly and also said that my grandparents would come soon, maybe after a week, to fetch me to Itahari once again. I was little upset as I had to live here without my aunt for a week but also very happy at the same time as it was only a matter of 7 days and I wouldn’t have to live here anymore.

Maybe, my parents understood me and they finally realized that I would be happier with my aunt and uncle rather than with them, or maybe my aunt also couldn’t let go of me and her work at the same time, or maybe my uncle missed me, or maybe my parents understood that they wouldn’t be able to take care of me nicely. Whatever the reasons were, I loved my parents at that moment.

I remember when my aunt was packing her clothes to take it to Itahari. I gave her few of my clothes when I saw an extra room in her suitcase, thinking that if she took these clothes with her, my bag would be lighter afterwards. Well, she made some excuse and didn’t take it with her. But secretly, I kept a beautiful green frock which had multiple layers, silk, net, cotton and had a flower in its chest inside her suitcase so that I won’t forget that dress to take Itahari afterwards. Actually, it was my favorite dress. She had bought that dress for me in my birthday. So finally I bid her a goodbye assured to see her again in a week and she left Kathmandu with a kiss in my cheek.

 

Chapter 6

My parents were not that bad actually. They didn’t really cause me any harm. They gave me meals twice a day and also somewhat delicious lunch at the midday. They cared for me, obviously. My dad hadn’t forgotten the way he used to make me fly for few seconds. In fact, he used to throw me high above, so high that I could actually touch the ceiling of our house and then catch me when I returned back from the sky. And yes, I never stepped back in enjoying this flight to the fullest. I used to stretch my hands as much as I could and try my best to touch the ceiling. This was something that made me feel very powerful and special. I guess, this is one of the most beautiful memories imprinted in my brain about my father. On the other hand, my mom used to bathe me, comb my hair, cut my nails. It’s not that I didn’t find her kinda sweet. Yeah, oil massage was something that I hated whenever she used to do it. The oily sensation in my head slowly transferring to my face used to irritate me. Still, saying that it would make my hair grow thicker and nicer, she didn’t stop experimenting with my hair. Another thing I disliked about my mom was that every night, she used to force me for taking a glass of milk. I hated milk and I hate it till the date. During those days, I also found out about my dad’s extra concern for having all the things in their right places. Well, still, thinking that I didn’t have to tolerate this for very long, I let them do whatever they liked and did whatever they said. After all, I was just a guest for a few days.

One fine afternoon, my mother talked about admitting me in a school nearby. I was startled. I was scared if they changed their mind. The seven days which I had been waiting desperately to finish, was almost going to be over and my mom was talking about my admission in the nearby school. Confused, scared, and angry at the same time, I went to my mom and told her confidently that I was here with them just for few days. I told them that once my grandfather comes to Kathmandu, I would no longer be with them. My mom immediately reacted to my innocent statements. She denied that I was not going to be with them anymore and tried to say that I was to sit there with them from now onwards. This almost made me sick. The thought of living with these people alone was killing me from inside. But my dad was quite clever. When I started feeling weak and bewildered, my father affirmed that I will go Itahari as soon as my grandfather comes Kathmandu for sure. I was little relieved when he said this but couldn’t trust on him totally. He said that they will have to go to their work from the next day so just to help me pass my time, they were thinking about sending me to school for few days. I had to believe them. I was admitted to the school.

 

(So I was made to sit in one of the seats 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…)

 

to be continued...

 

Reminiscence (Chapter 1 to Chapter 3)

Chapter 1

It was already 10 o’clock in the evening. Lights were off. My dad was not at home. I was already covered by the blankets in the bed when I realized that I was thirsty. Though it was late March by now, the cold air still haunted our house. I was too lazy to get up from the cozy, warm bed and head towards the kitchen in a thin top amidst the unkind weather. But my thirst outweighed my laziness, so I had to get up from there and proceed towards the kitchen. I could hear the silent sniffs of my brother and my mother when I reached near their room. My mom is usually irritated when somebody turns on the light while she’s sleeping. Dad had to stand in a defendant’s box whenever he used to do this. So without making a sound I tried to guess the location of the thermos and the glass. After having some sips of hot water, I sneaked out of the kitchen. The cool air slithering inside my top was already able to chase my somnolence away. So I took my phone to the bed and started surfing Facebook. Same old posts filled up my news feed. I was already bored and was about to lock my phone and try to sleep until the messenger bubble popped up.

I opened it. It was the message in the group box. I opened the chat box just to see a sticker sent by my friend. Then I also sent one of the lame sticker hoping someone to notice me and talk to me. Well I was lucky. It was Aavash who talked about my recent post. We started to talk and then gradually, other members of the group also came to join us. The topic of the conversation turned into a childhood discussion. Everybody shared their childhood expression and yes, I too shared mine. (Some of them, I exaggerated though.) The conversation was going more and more interesting, and intense. We shared golden moments, happiest, scariest, most mischievous and so on. And all of a sudden there was a power cut in the house. The increasing endophrins hormone which had been ruling my body and mind was now suddenly invaded by norepinephrine hormone.

I didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to talk something more about childhood. I wanted to hear something more about all the mischiefs and stupid lame events of the childhood. I wanted to feel the innocence for some more stretch. However, I was not lucky this time. Still all my childhood memories started haunting me. Good, bad, interesting, boring, scary, pleasant, everything I could remember. I was   plunged in my own world of reminiscence.

 

Chapter 2

I was a normal child weighing 2.3 kilos when I was born. My father was taken aback when he saw me for the first time. He was shocked to see a human creature who was as heavy as a beginner’s dumbbell and as small as a shrew. He even had a doubt if there was any complication in the fetus development. Maybe, it was because he had never seen a newborn baby. Obviously I don’t remember any of these. Born to Mr. Kishowr Dhakal and Mrs. Uma Dhakal, I was the newest member to the Dhakal family: a middle class family residing in a rent in Baneshwor. I had my grandparents and 3 uncles including my parents in my family that time.

Growing me up was not as easy as it was expected. My parents were just beginning to create the path of their career at that time. So financially, our family was not that stable. On top of that as I was the first child of my generation, the chaos in taking care of me was not a new thing. My weak immune and my stubbornness added the load. But still, I was brought up with a lot of love and care by the whole family. Now when I look back to my life, I can only recall some moments of my life after I was four years old. Till then I know myself as a behaved and obedient child. People say that when I was a kid, I was more matured than I am now. Except for showing tantrums while eating and plugging in my fingers inside the electric port, I haven’t heard of any disruptions I caused till the date during my childhood.

When I was 4, I went to Itahari with my grandparents to stay with them and my uncle and aunt. Actually my parents were both working in a school that time, and there was nobody to take care of me there. So one fine morning, I was made to hold my grandfather’s finger and reach Itahari.

“Wow, she is going to be my new aunt. How beautiful she is!” This is what I thought when I saw my youngest aunt during her marriage. And obviously, she was very beautiful. Seeing my friends’ beautiful moms, attractive teachers, other gracious ladies in some family functions, I also secretly wanted someone beautiful in my family. And there she was. Decked out in a red Banarasi saree with a red veil hanging from her high bun, she gave a naive and shy expression which made me love her right that moment. This was her wedding day which I’m describing now. And I was going to live with that beautiful lady for a year or so. I was excited and happy, so happy that my disappointment in leaving my parents which was haunting me before slowly faded away.

 

Chapter 3

My excitement wasn’t worthless. She was indeed a very kind and loving person. She was funny, she was a great teacher, and a wonderful friend as well. Bringing me new stunning clothes, taking me to somewhere out for lunch, bringing me chocolates, playing with me, watching movies with me were some of her few ways of pampering me. I really loved being with her, so much that I wanted to live with her forever. Of course my uncle was also very cool. Living in Itahari was indeed one of my favorite memories of my life. Each and every day used to be like a new adventure, let alone the birthdays, festivals and other occasions. I was the girl with good grades, amazing dresses, cute smile, jolly personality, obedient behavior, cool aunt, and number of loving persons. Be it school, be it neighborhood, be it a family function, be it home, everywhere I was a star, or at least I never felt the other way. I loved my life.

Soon the time came when I had to leave this part of the world. My aunt had to move to another city due to her work. My grandparents had to go India for some medical treatments. My uncle used to be busy with his work. Left was me. I had to move from Itahari. Even the thought of leaving this fairy tale was scaring me. I really didn’t want to let go of my aunt and this kind of life. Everyone tried to convince me to come back to Kathmandu and start living with my parents. I was just disheartened by all this.

My second uncle with his family was also there in Itahari for few days. He then offered me to go with his family to Dhankuta, where he used to live. That also didn’t sound bad that time. I had good memories with him and aunt. Strange! I wanted to sit with my youngest uncle and aunt, I was ready to live with my second uncle as an alternative, but I never wanted to go home. I didn’t want to live with my parents. That was probably because I had fascinating nice memories only with them instead of my parents. Maybe because they were busy in their works that I didn’t spend enough time with them to create memories. So, I was almost convinced to go along with the second uncle until somebody gestured me to say no to him. That was kinda weird though because I thought that just like the people I had in my life, everybody else was also fond of me, but the table turned here. I thought that person didn’t want me to go with uncle so finally I said no to my uncle. This was possibly the first time I knew that not everybody likes me. I was left with no choices except to go Kathmandu with my parents which was almost a nightmare to me. When I didn’t want to leave Kathmandu I had to come Itahari and now that I don’t want to leave this place, I am forced to go back to where I came from. My youngest aunt finally persuaded me saying she would come along with me to Kathmandu. She, with all her efforts, convinced me to go Kathmandu saying she won’t leave me alone with my parents. So there I was, with the hard heart, at the airport in front of the huge airplane ready to come back to Kathmandu.

 

To be continued...