My daughter is already in college. This year the son spreads his wings too. And come September we have an empty nest, empty rooms and two desolate dogs. These dogs already have my love, but now they are going to be the sole recipients of crushing hugs, spur of the moment outbursts of violent cuddling. That’s how I intend to make up for the two missing kids, who kissed them on the mouth and let them sleep with them, even if they had rolled in poo. And I don’t think my kind of love is what the dogs are looking for. Most often they see “the look” in my eye and run far away.
Both the kids have done IB. (International Baccalaureate). It’s a fearsome, two-year program. I tried with my daughter, really did, to understand the way they study, the way their subjects are structured. I gave up, within 2 minutes. Physics paper 1 and paper 2. Paper 2 is alternate to lab. (How can you alternate to lab?) English did not have any textbooks. Why? Because it wasn’t literature. It was not even grammar. “What is it then I asked?” She said “Mom, I am buried here in a mess. I have a 500-word essay to submit, another mid term due and 3 assignments to complete. I cannot explain this ++++ to you!” I backed off hurriedly, and after that I would enter her room with extreme trepidation. There would be assorted files all over the place, with scary looking scribbled papers poking out. Each paper had the value of 2 years of hard work.
I really felt bad for them kids. We had it so much easier in life.
We had 49 students in our class, not 15. We had more friends.
Our classes were called standards, not grades.
We had one class, not multiple divisions.
The teachers’ knew us. They did not have to hold up our I cards to see our names.
We HAD no I cards. Our faces were our identity.
Gurkhaji knew each child’s going-home schedule. Fernandes bus child, BEST child, Mommy pick up child etc. Unknown security guards did not monitor our entrances and exits.
We had school from 10 am to 4 pm. Not unearthly hours of 7 am to 4 pm.
We had throw ball and athletics. No fancy tennis and basketball courts for us.
We had one PT teacher. PT stood for Physical Training. We did not have a fancy team of PE teachers. It was never Physical Education for us. It was just plain fun in the sun.
We were known by our names. Even to the office staff.
The teachers knew the records of our pranks and academic falls and rises. They did not have to look us up in fancy filing systems.
The teacher, who taught me in KG class, had also taught my 10 years older sister in KG class, and my 10 years younger sister in the same class. They did not change every “Semester”.
We had terms and not Semesters.
We got a holiday in pouring rain. We did not have to rush to school to show our sincerity.
We played honest to goodness interschool sports, in semi playable grounds. Fancy in-house tournaments were never organized for us.
We were hit at least once by our teachers, and our parents applauded it, instead of marching into school with cavalry and names of politicians.
Our parents could never enter school for the heck of it. Corridor walking parents were not allowed.
We beat each other up and took care of our problems. Parents never heard of our issues.
We did not have fancy canteens, catered by fancy restaurants. Infact we did not have a canteen.
We had a huge garden to play in. Not a rugged concrete passage.
We had ranks and marks and percentages. We did not have grades and percentiles.
We had 2 tests, mid term Exams and 1 final exam, which determined the status of our promotion to the next class. We did not have TOK, EE, IOC, IA, II, WL, PP, CAS, and other combinations of vowels and consonants.
You see, we went to school too.