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Ever since we took admission in school for Guha, we have been trying to prepare him mentally about going to school. We explained him the ambience, his new friends (the Indian cricket team members are his class mates), teacher (unknown Lakshmi teacher), playground and sometimes took him to the school to simulate the atmosphere. He is also very smart in understanding our intentions and nods his head and repeats everything in his language. Over the last 2-3 weeks when anyone around utter the word school he starts yelling “Ddhi Aa Vee Pubbic Shoool and Lacchmee Maam”. It is “D.A.V. Public School” and Lakshmi Mam which he utters in his flawless and meticulous language... :-). Everyone in my surroundings from a street hawker to a departmental store know him and where he is going to go. Such was his popularity.
The school is just adjacent to my building and even if he screams we can hear. Such is the proximity.
The D-day for Guha has come. Today is his first day at school.
I asked Ishani to take care of her work and made an audacious attempt to take care of dropping him at school. It was 5:30 am in the morning and usually when the alarm rings we snooze it and get up only at 6:00 am. It was rather unusual today and woke up at the very first ring. Not sure whether it is first day for us or for him. We completed all the daily chores quickly and got ready to wake up the prince.
“Kunju, Kannappa, darling, honey” are the initial words when we wake him up in the morning. This repeats for 3-4 times and when he doesn’t mutter any word or give any signal, I change my tone and call “Guha, Guha, Guhaaa” and that’s when he starts showing up some early signs of getting up. Probably my tone has become a snoozing alarm for him to get up. But today we did not dare to do so. Even after 3-4 times I was patient enough to call him the same names again and probably all the synonyms and names of God to wake him up. After ‘n’ times he started moving from one end to other end of the bed and slowly started opening his eyes. His eyes were half closed and Ishani was feeling sorry for him and asked him to sleep for another 10 minutes. Already I ran 10 times over my threshold patience and again another 10 minutes of sleep will only make my life from horrible to miserable. I gave a derisive look at Ishani and she laughingly ran into the main room. Again my attempts started.
“Kunju, today is your first day at school. You will have to get up, brush your teeth, have bath, wear new clothes, have idly and then Appa will drop you at school. At school you will find your new friends, Sachin, Rahul, Rohit, Gambhir, Dhoni, Suresh, Saina, Sania and everyone. You will have to meet them and say hello. So get up, get up.” I cuddled and gave a warm kiss and he laughing woke up with his usual questionnaire. Ishani was jealous that I have become an expert at handling Guha in just 3 months until when I was very apprehensive of handling him.
For the next 2 hours Guha is prince charming and anything he would have asked I was ready to give him. Such was my necessity. Quickly he brushed his teeth and had a cup of milk. Ishani was ready to her work and she was very reluctant to go to work as she wants to be beside him on day-1 of his school. She understands the consequences of staying back. She hugged him, planted a kiss on his forehead, blessed him and went ahead with her work. She looked at me and from her eyes I understood her pain of not being with her son during his first crucial moment. Don’t worry is what I can reply back and did so.
Post that I ran behind him to make him say “good morning” to “Nature” and complete all the requisite formalities. Since it is his first day, my father took him to the nearest temple to seek the Lord’s blessings. My mother made him eat his preferred idly with ghee and sugar and gave him a “Kaju Katili”. Everyone at home were doing everything to make him feel very comfortable and not to change his mood and excitement.
“Appa, today I will go to Ddhi Aa Vee Pubbic Shoool. Where will we go tomorrow?” Poor lad he is under the impression that it is only for today. I bypassed the questions and turned his attention towards his new school bag.
Quickly he went to his grandmother, “Appammai give me bikki, water, cover”. He wrapped them like how I do when going to office and put them in his school bag.
Then went to his room, took his new pair of dress and was going gala and asked me, “Shall I put them on?”
“Fifteen minutes ma, then you can wear”.
Again after a few seconds, “Shall I put them on?”
“Fifteen minutes ma, then you can wear. If you wear now itself you dress will become dirty”. Explaining all these things in his own language is a mammoth task and in itself learning a new language.
He wore his new shirt and trouser, then kept another pair in his bag as a stand by. Now it’s turn of wearing his new shoe. Again it repeats.
I wondered how the Lord has showered on me so much patience.
Guha was all set to go to his school. He caught my index finger and started jumping and shouting that he is going to “Ddhi Aa Vee Pubbic Shoool”. I was repeating the same things again and again so that his mood doesn’t get changed.
He was standing in front of school gate. He was frolicking as if he was going to some exhibition. It was looking more that it is first day for me as I was more tensed. There was a pretending smile on my face but internally I was very anxious as how is he going to behave and why did I make a bold attempt of sending Ishani to work.
As we stepped in, I heard “Hi Guha”.
He replied back by waiving his hand, “Haaai, gooood morning” and shook his hands with them.
He is yet to join the school but he has already made friends with the two school watchman. I was thinking all our preparation is reaping fruits, our introduction to the watchman, teacher and caretakers is working and so it will be an easy task for him.
The school starts at 9:00 am and we were late by about 2 minutes. So the nursery classroom door was closed and there were another two children standing out. I felt Guha is late on day 1 itself. As we were approaching near to the door, my heart started palpitating. I can feel butterflies in my stomach but he is in a merrymaking mood.
We were at the door. I can hear a lot of screaming sounds from the room. Children crying for their dear ones, “Amma, Nanna, Maa, Appa, Aayi, Mamma, Mai, Amme, Papa” and everything that they could. More than Guha I became jittery and started looking at Guha’s face. His expressions started changing slowly. A rotund face slowly started changing to a long face. He started feeling something fishy. He slowly left my index finger and caught me by my fist. His grip started became tight and was moving away from the door towards me and was ready to climb my arms. I felt his fear and slowly took me into my arms and the only thing I can do is to sound like a broken record. I whispered that this is your school, your teacher, your friends and your playground.
Before even I can complete, the door opened and the teacher welcomed the children standing out. He just peeped in only to find that there were many a child like him with gripping fear, not known as where they were, what they were up to, what is going on around them and why were they put there. Every child was crying and using their energy to the maximum to get the attention of everyone so that they will be pushed out and meet their dear ones standing out.
Before Guha realized, I dropped him into the class and the teacher pulled him from her side and handed him over to a caretaker. For a moment I did not know what to do and was looking at Guha. His lips slowly changed to a semicircle as he turned back to see me. His expressions meant a lot to me but at that juncture it only seemed to me that Guha felt that he believed in me and I am leaving him alone. All of a sudden he burst into tears and like the first rain, big tear drops rolled down his cheeks. “Appa, appa, don’t leave me, come here and pick me up. I don’t want this aunty. Come appa, come……”
“Are you Guha?” and the caretaker took him into her arms and went in. He kept quiet as he looked behind to see me that I am leaving. He seemed to control his emotions and was just sobbing.
Mission complete and I felt relaxed. Don’t know but I felt very happy and the instant thrilled me as I was with my son’s crucial moment.
Once I reached home, everyone started enquiring me as how Guha was in the class, how he behaved himself, was he good etc. My mother was standing in the balcony and trying to listen if she can hear to Guha’s voice. Every child’s voice seemed similar and every voice seemed to us like his voice.
For the next two hours, I was relishing that moment and Guha occupied it completely.
At 11:00 am, I was back to school to pick him up. I was standing by the door to see if I can see him as what he is up to. I couldn’t find him. The teacher asked me to walk in and pick him up. I was searching for him and alas I found him sitting on a table and looking at every friend of his as what they are doing, when my dear ones will come to pick me up. I stood beside him and called him, “Guha, kannappa, kunju”. That’s it and all his controlled emotions so far burst into big drops and came running to hug me.
I picked him up into my arms and he felt safe and secured. Smile is back onto his face and as he walked out of the class. He waived his hands in ecstasy to all the caretakers and the watchman. He collected his chocolate from the teacher and said a BIG THANK YOU. It reminded me of “Teacher’s pet, is that you…ha ha ha”.
On the way back home, I asked Guha, “Kunju, how is the school, what did you do?”
“It is so nice Appa. I did nothing. Just sat there cried a lot and ate bikki. Teacher asked me if I want water. I said I have it my bag and will drink after bikki. But after that I forgot….he he he.” Poor guy, he lost his throat because of excess crying.
“Tomorrow also appa will leave you at school and grandfather will come and pick you up. Like today you will have to go tomorrow too. Did the teacher say anything to you?”
“Hmmm….pointing his index finger….shuup…keep quiet, don’t cry, sit there and have bikki” and gesticulating to keep quiet.
I just laughed at his innocence and came home.
Back home, same questions and Guha was eager to tell everyone as what happened at school. Entire floor in my apartment know that he went to school and what all has happened with him today.
Today is his favorite dish for lunch. Grandparents are eagerly waiting to give him a chocolate and treat him the way he wants.
To me it seemed as if Guha has achieved something great and we are all much honored of him. Yes it is a very special and proud moment for me. My son’s first day at school and his stepping step on the path of learning bower.
Relishing the sequence of events we did not realize that it is night time. Guha started slowly murmuring, “Appa I don’t want to go to school. Maam is scolding me”. The honeymoon period is over…:-).