1. My dad was never big on imparting his “culture” to us, much to our handicap. When people ask why we’re matriarchal, he says marriage to a g***** is unconditional surrender. Now I speak to him in Gujrati and he answers in Marathi.
But that Thursday night in 1989, AS was staying over and my loving, malleable father thundered: “Fruit of my loin! Thou shall learn Gujarati! Tomorrow we commence your training at 9 am sharp! Okay, 10 am.”
My brother was harbouring adolescence in his room and learning Gujarati was not going to help him further his career as a GI Joe.
So me and AS gathered in the morning in front of my cupboard. The doors were painted black so that I could draw and play teacher-teacher on it.
My father wrote out the alphabet and the numbers one to ten. We copied them down studiously and repeated after him. Then we broke for lunch and he suspended lessons for a nap.
We went out to play hopscotch. He never mentioned the lessons again, even though I wrote about them in a composition on ‘How I Spend my Fridays’.
2. During the 1991 Gulf war, we (mother, brother and I) were sent back to India for a few months, like many other Indians. That was a tragically wrong move because those were the best days to be in Bahrain.
Destruction was imminent so life was tuned to Full Swing — there were random days off from school, US troops brought excitement, shops went on sale and when we came back, everyone had these really cool Gulf War tee-shirts.
We landed mid-term in Navi Mumbai and my parents were keen on us continuing our CBSE education. The only school was in Nerul, three towns away from Vashi, where we lived. It only had classes up to Eighth grade and my brother was in Ninth. My parents didn’t want to separate us as I couldn’t travel alone.
So they enrolled us and we got brand new uniforms. A tie and belt would seal our admission. I was really excited about them because 1. I had never worn a tie before and it looked very official 2. My skirt kept falling off.
But by the end of the day, my parents decided that it would not do for my brother to lose a year, nor for us to be separated.
That’s how I was in ApeeJay school for one day.
3. 1994-1995 was a bad year for concentration. Over every class, ever conversation gathered dark clouds booming the importance of Board exams. They thundered stress and guilt. Everyone was fine-tuning their approach to distinction. I found I could “study better” if I went to the terrace in the evening. Between reading chapters and drifting off, I caught sight of birds flying right to left.
I would study their patterns, I declared to my rapt inner audience. Present a paper on them after my board exams were done. Look, they only fly out in pairs! No they don’t! They head only in one direction! I could count them and see if they number tallied over days! They might be a rare, undiscovered species! My life had a purpose! Up yours, Board Exams! The inner audience stood up to applaud.
I forget to go up next evening.