Such incidents as had exactly happened in the life of Victor may not be very common, but the tone and tenor of the bullies and their activities remain the same even today. They, through their actions, often unparliamentary, would like to cajole you to submission, even if it involves getting you implicated in incidents that you are remotely connected to and getting you chastised by seniors and teachers for those. One has to, as he grows up, keep an eye open for such incidents. One can never allow himself to be either guided or misguided by such incidents, let alone allowing oneself to be taken for a ride by such bullies in school or locality.
Now Victor will share another incident that might be termed as bullying, but it had a different dimension and can pass off as playful maneuverings of same-age children to become friendly. But you have to be a strong boy or girl to take it with your stride, or else you stand the chance of becoming a victim of such high-handed tactics that are intended to force a meek submission on your part. Friendship has nothing to do with submissions. Forced submissions are more common in relationships between the ruler and the ruled, the oppressor and the oppressed, and not among friends. If you are bullied into a friendly relationship, then force is the operating word in that friendship, and it's dished out to you from a platform higher than where you are standing, and in my opinion is best avoided.
This is true at all levels but while in school, as we avoid such relationships, we must take care that there is no physical violence, no fights. In our childhood we tend to pick up fights, but as grownups we will think several times before picking up one. Therefore every caution has to be taken and counseling done so that your child is competent enough to identify such anomalies in relationship and pick up proper friends. A friend picked up at school at times becomes a brother in arms, a lifetime companion who would stand by you through the thick and thin of life.
Therefore, when you make friends in school be very clear of your likes and dislikes, your strength and weakness, your comfort zone and your discomfort zone, how far you can tread, etcetera, as these go a long way in shaping a character. Parents must, as Victor's father, mother and granny did, make their wards aware of these small things, so that they do not get an opportunity to tell them as they grow up that they did not teach them values.
Now, the incident that warranted such long preamble. One day after school, when Victor was munching on his residual lunch and waiting for his school bus, in rushed a young boy as big as him and ran away with his lunch box. Victor was in Class Three then. Victor ran after him. The boy ran across the compound, reached the school gate and disappeared beyond it. Victor ran till the gate and patiently watched the disappearing figure, without even bothering to keep up the chase.
Now the disappearing figure was one of the identical twins who were the Principal's grandsons. Victor went to the Principal and lodged his complaint. The Principal, an elderly gentleman, immediately called up his residence and summoned the twins. They appeared together. Victor had a perennial problem in identifying who was who between the twins. And at the headmaster's query who had run away with his lunch box Victor fumbled. He pointed his finger at one, only to be told that at the time of the incident he was with his grandfather. Victor was at a loss. Then naturally the remaining twin was the culprit and that was obvious, but the headmaster dismissed the case by saying that if Victor failed to identify the oppressor, how could he expect justice? He was given time until the school bus arrived to identify his oppressor.
Victor was sad. At a loss and felt like crying. What will he tell his mother? How did he lose his lunch box? His dilemmas ended after five minutes when a smiling aunt Kimmy, the boys' mother, arrived with his lunch box. She returned the box and even apologized for her son's mischief and appreciated the fact that Victor did not go beyond the school gate in his pursuit to rescue the launch box.
There are numerous other incidents that took place in Victor's life when he was in that KG school -- all existential problems for him then. Here Victor has shared those that affected him greatly and which all he can recollect even today without straining himself. They automatically crowd in his mind. He has to make no special effort to remember those.
Those are the incidents that made Victor stronger, bolder and more courageous. Those are the incidents that taught Victor some values in life or other. Those arrived as problems even when Victor could not recognize those as ones when they occurred, but as he looks back he feels how well he tackled those without even knowing that he was doing so, and without any prior talk or counseling from his parents. That he managed well speaks volumes of his temperament and attitude to life and people around him. Had he not been that receptive, that open towards events unfolding around him he would not have coped so well. Had he been a closed, conceited type, who questioned everything and looked to derive his own benefit out of everything, he might have ended up a moneyed man, but surely have missed so many other good things, like making fast friends that would last one a lifetime, almost. But unfortunately today, he is no longer in touch with even one of those friends that he made til Class IV.
One Aloke lived in the neighborhood. Even after changing two schools he was in touch with him. But once they shifted base Aloke became part of his memory. He met him once as a college student in a public bus. What took place was exchange of pleasantries and things stopped there. Now, think Aloke used to visit his place along with his sister when they were at the KG school. Life and time change. Space never stays empty or vacant; something or someone occupies it. Aloke's space in Victor's mind was occupied by others with progress of time and what remained was simple exchange of pleasantries. It would pain Victor and perhaps even Aloke, but that was how it ought have been perhaps. Who knows? Who can tell?
Tales of lost friendship some other day. Today Victor will share a great learning that he had when he was in Class IV. He was writing an exam. Perhaps English. It was the annual exam that in those days used to be held just after the schools reopened after the Puja vacations. Results were declared by year end and new classes begun by January. Now March has become the exam time and May-June the new January. Time really changes many customs.
But, let's get the story back on its rails. Victor was writing the exam. Suddenly Nupur entered the examination hall and asked for Victor. The invigilator alerted him. Nupur asked him to meet Ms. Bose, his class teacher, immediately. Could Nupur not see that he was writing his final exam in the last class of the school? Yes, she saw everything and yet she stuck to her guns. "Bose aunty wants to see you immediately."
His class teacher, Bose aunty, was in their class room checking answer scripts as well as keeping an eye on the examinees. Victor quietly walked up to her and stood askance. She made an angry face and said, "There is a certain thing in English that is called spelling. You cannot afford to be so inventive as you have been in your history paper with your spellings. See what I have done. I have deducted five marks from your total. You have scored 80. It's the second highest. Actually you scored the highest mark. But I chose to penalize you. And I have called you amidst your exam just to stamp it in your soul that spellings are important -- very, very important." Victor could not utter a word. Then she asked him to leave.
Spellings are still Victor's weakness, but not as they used to be.
Many children have problems with spellings. Victor learnt it the hard way that if you misspell and even after being told in the class, fail to show great improvement, you are bound to face even harsher treatment, like what Ms. Bose dished out to him. Obviously the rod was not used, but the fact that Victor remembers the incident even today would tell you that Mrs Bose has had the right impact. Victor had henceforth been more attentive to spellings.
Parents must take particular care to make their wards strong in spellings. Else they have to learn its importance the hard way as Victor did.
Article © Pranab Ghosh. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-01-06
Image(s) are public domain.