Posted in Anecdotes, Musings

Maari

“Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time..”

I do not remember when it was that I came across Peter Pan for the first time; perhaps my vivid memory of being shown the 2003 movie at my school in the 7th grade was the first. I obsessed over it for months or perhaps years; enchanted by the concept of Neverland and never growing up. And when I read somewhere that Sagittarians are known to have ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’, I was elated at the discovery. I divulged to every passer-by my noble intention to never grow up or be an adult. The concepts high-schoolers attach to coolness are strange indeed.

At 29 years old, looking back and recollecting some incidents, I am glad that I grew up.

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Posted in Musings

Pretending To Be A Polyglot

I have no clear idea when I suddenly decided to become a polyglot, but I do know what it led to – in the two month summer vacation after 10th grade, I armed myself with a tiny booklet that vowed to teach the reader Tamil, and set off on the task.

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Posted in Anecdotes, Musings

Remembering Shaari

Shaari..

Shaari? Was that her name? I’m not really sure. I don’t remember.

What I do remember is the little shy girl, smiling timidly in a classroom where she herself might have suspected she didn’t belong in. I remember  she always had amicable smiles and average marks. Her skin was dark, her hair oily, combed back and held in place by plastic clips. I feel like describing her as having possessed mousy features as a child, perhaps because I can easily liken her to a tiny brown creature scurrying away from attention, and comfortable in dark corners.

But why I remember her is not because of her physical features or her characters. It is because of a plain sunny morning when a new teacher asked us to introduce ourselves, and one by one we reeled off our particulars – name, place, parent’s occupation – and when her turn came, she mentioned her father was a coolie. A daily wage labourer.

I was incredulous. My 11 year old mind was fascinated by the prospect of someone like her sitting here in a private school, among the children of professionals.. In retrospect, it does seem sad that such a thing even occurred to me. And yet, that’s what set her apart, for me. The fact that she was the daughter of an ambitious man, who refused to let his meagre earnings be a barrier in his daughter’s future, or believe that she was in any way less worthy of the painted classrooms of the celebrated convent school whose high walls were a stone’s throw from their small house. I used to imagine him coming home tired every night, and looking across the street at the iron gates; I would even conjure up a look of determination on his weary face..

The headmaster, Father T, would come by regularly to ask how many were yet to pay their monthly fees and invariably she would stand up every time. I believe she was given special consideration though, and allowed late payment.

I remember she was not particularly bright, or maybe she just  never had anyone to help her with her lessons at home. Maybe that was one of the reasons, along with financial constraints, that led her to shift elsewhere after middle school. 

I’ve never seen her since, but I do sometimes wonder what became of her. Had she found the new school to her liking? Has she have grown out of her shell with time? 

Sometimes, I imagine running into her some day, and struggling to recognise the mousy girl I knew behind the confident young woman who challenged the world, with her proud father by her side. I would like that very much. 

I look forward to that day.

Posted in Anecdotes

Alcoves Of Life

When I took up Community Medicine, I was not quite sure what I was getting into, whether I am truly cut out for the work it entitled. It heartens me that things certainly do look that way. I love the things I am getting to learn.

Less than two weeks into joining the course I have been lucky enough to receive an opportunity to work with the World Health Organisation; as an External Monitor on behalf of WHO for the Measles -Rubella vaccination campaign happening in the state throughout the month of February. I travelled solo to remote parts of the largely rural district of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, monitoring certain assigned sites each day and the experience has been amazing. 

Barren landscapes dotted with cattle and ancient bullock carts stacked with hay met my widened eyes –  I had never seen the likes of these except perhaps in Tamil movies of old. Schools were part of the more populated areas, a couple of concrete buildings where children in red uniforms peeked out of the windows of their classrooms or from under shady trees where some had their lessons. My visits drew excitement; some boys saluted me as they would a teacher, and certain girls threw shy glances at my attire and accessories; one shook my hand and hid behind her friends giggling while all the others waved me goodbye.

As the driver took me from one remote village to the other, I watched in awe the alcoves of life emerging from the corners of my country – naked children playing in puddles and old folks squatting in front of caricatured huts made of dark mud walls and low lying roofs of hay, where nights brought darkness and light came up with the sun, where one walked miles altogether to reach the main road and the few necessities were met by a single grocery store.. 

I could not help feeling a little ashamed of how I complained about slow wifi networks, the occasional loss of power and late Amazon deliveries. The presence of supermarkets and designer stores at a walkable distance suddenly seemed an overindulgence. But funnily enough, in spite of lack of all these facilities, I caught myself feeling jealous of them. They were content in their way of life, and that’s what matters in the end.