After some frantic shouting, shoving and shooing, I was out the door and into, well, a place I only knew as our front porch, but one could see no further than his own feet. Negotiating each step carefully while still trying to keep that icy wind off my nose, I somehow managed to see our school bus’ lights in the distance and made a dash for it. Getting in only after an exhausting sprint to the next stop, I got on wondering why I wasn’t allowed to take my Hero Kidd bicycle to school like my brother was. Even the usually chirpy driver seemed grumpy, and as I moved ahead, my usual spot with the Antakshari/Name-place-animal-thing gang was taken. I had to wind my way through to the back to stand between a couple of hard-nosed seniors I had no idea about.
Classes began, and my fears were confirmed when I missed two out of five spellings in the English class, earning the teacher’s rebuke. I was caught talking in the next class, and the week’s only P.T. period couldn’t have come sooner. At the football field, it was the usual: Chenab and Ravi versus Ganges and Satluj. Now, Satluj and Ravi simply hated each other; they were green and we were red- we had to! In those days of scrawny eight-year-olds, I was the ball-bashing midfielder. Well, that was more because every other kid wanted to be a striker, the fat-ass was the goalkeeper, and the abject losers were stationed at the back. Somehow managing not to fit in any category, I stuck around in the middle of the yellowish park jumping into tackles and passing it to the silkier, more skilful players up ahead. Trying to win one such ball, I rammed into one of the Satluj strikers, and having missed the ball completely, brought him down crashing to the cries of a badly mispronounced “Penalty!”. The penalty was duly argued over, taken a few times over in haste and finally agreed upon, and slotted. Now banished to the dreaded keeper’s position, I sulked between the posts. It did get better, though, as a couple of saves denied the rivals a win, and the match finished as a diplomatic draw. And my days as the permanent goalkeeper had well and truly begun.
The lunch break followed, and after filling myself with Mumma’s delicious creations, I finally thought the day wasn’t turning out that bad. As I went to relieve myself before the last period of the day started, I felt, well, relieved. The cold indolence of the morning had given way to exhaustion in the midday sun, and I let the bad day out; my head began to lighten. Strutting back in to the class with a dazed smile, I put my hand out and softly spoke “May I come in, Ma’am?”. Even before she could turn and nod, my daze was ended by loud screams. “The post office is open!”, “Letters, anybody?” and as it dawned on me, to the bemusement of the now-amused teacher, a loud chorus began... “Shame shame, puppy shame...”
I still pretend I don’t remember what happened next, but like that midsummer night which was to come a decade later, I remember every minute of that infinitely long last period and the subsequent bus ride home. They even sang “Shame shame, puppy shame” in the bus during Antakshari! I got through that day, and if I’d seen the Star Wars series by that time, I’d have known I was well on my way to becoming a true Jedi.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.