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Jay P Narain

(Jan.1945 / Bihar, India)

My first day in school

More than half a century ago,
the Monsoon showers had just brought relief from the sweltering summer,
just when I was dreaming of playing soccer whole day outdoors,
My Dad decided that I have to attend an elementary school.

I was dragged a mile by my older brother to my new school,
It would be my favorite Durga Temple converted into a school,
My dreams of a class with benches and chairs just vanished,
As we were sitting on the floor in open partitioned classrooms of the school.

I thought I would get a nice colorful uniform to wear to school,
but it looked like that the dress code was a futuristic dream,
At least every class had a black board bigger than my slate,
the teacher had a duster whereas I had to wipe the chalk with my hand.

The fear of some burly kids and nostalgia of home made me sad and homesick,
I could not stop crying and asking my teacher to let me go home.

I still remember the teacher with big black cane,
every time I cried to go home, I got a whack on my palm with his cane,
I could not stop crying, he would not stop whacking,
till I was sent in a distant corner for breaking the class rule.

Kneeling down in the corner, I dreamt of Mom and home,
I found comfort in the memories of joyous Durga Puja days,
I wished the Goddess would come alive,
and pierce the hands of the teacher with her big spear.

Finally the Tiffin time heralded the temporary recess,
the teacher came down and helped me open my Tiffin can,
He asked me to eat while he wrote something on my slate,
He hoped that it would keep me interested in his school.

After I finished my food, he handed my slate,
He had drawn a picture of a big smiling cat with whiskers and big tail,
He asked me to draw the cat on the other side of the slate,
I was so happy drawing the circles and lines whole afternoon,
I forgot I had a rough first day in school.

Submitted: Saturday, May 27, 2006

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