Written by Smruthi Bhandiwad
Myths have rumoured that school life forms a base for our Adulthood.
Children tend to imitate their surroundings.
2011, Grade 7
I walk into a new reshuffled class, there are some familiar faces but none that I ever spoke to. I'm a tall, healthy, nerdy, introvert kid who can be easily made fun of. On the first day, we get to sit wherever we want but since all the "cool" kids chose to sit at the backbenches, I quietly settled down on the first bench. The bell rang and our teacher walked in smiling at our little heads. The smell of the new books made me forget the social tension that heated me before.
After surviving a few weeks in that hell disguised as our class, the day came when my whole life was about to change. When our teacher walked in that morning with his usual bright smile, he told us that he would be swapping our seats today. I was relocated besides a guy who smelled weird but still belonged to the "cool" gang. He would look at me time to time and judge my existence when one day finally he asked me what my name was. I always felt that I didn't belong to those people, they were different, they had different lifestyles and tastes. I stood out and it was already difficult for me to avoid them that now I had to tell him my name which he pretended not to know. Anyway, I shyly replied
He pretended to listen to our English teacher who was reading out Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. After five minutes he asked me,
"What's your surname? Are you a Gujarati?"
I looked at him with that "can you please stop talking face" and then looked back into my novel and replied,
"Advani. No, I'm a Sindhi."
I hate conversing with people who never wanted to talk to me in the first place but did anyway and he was one of them. He then asked me about where I resided and how I travelled to school.
"I reside in Bandra east," I replied. My life was bearable till here but the next sentence that my mouth uttered, made me mentally sick.
"I travel by atto," was my reply to the second half of his question. All I wanted to say was "auto" (a three-wheeled vehicle) and ended up saying "atto"(flour in Sindhi). He found it so funny that he burst out laughing in the middle of the class, for which he was punished but his teasing didn't end there.
I became the "atto" girl for the entire year and even after that. That's where they started bullying me slowly. Since I didn't match their requirements to be a part of the cool gang, I was just someone who was ignored. Gradually, the bullying increased, I started making excuses to stay away at home. I should have told my parents about it but my tiny head just tried to swallow it in and I became an extremely timid girl. They made me do all kinds of weird stuff and if by chance they got caught by the professors, they would somehow manage to blame it on me and find their way out.
I became depressed. I, once a bright child was struggling to pass exams. I only found peace in reading novels and getting lost in the fiction world where no one would harm me. Years passed, I overcame the depression or more like suppressed that too and invested all my time in novels.
Today, when I look back upon those childish days, somewhere deep down I thank all those classmates for treating me the way they did for they built a road that leads me to my destination. I am a well-known author now and I own a bookshop located down the lane of my school. My school life did build a base for what I am today.