Actually I am not writing about those memories but the thoughts about them. These go back to the school days, which I have always thought that these did not matter much after you pass a certain stage. Yes, I can write this having arrived at a midlife stage where there is still a substantial part to be lived and for which I am very much looking forward. Yet at this same point of time in the life, there is a past which has greatly impacted the course that life has taken.
I was born during the socialist era, in the city like Mumbai to the middle class parents, both of them government servants keen on getting their child admitted in the school that gave high emphasis on studies. It started with my kindergarten Ramabai Paranjape Balmandir. I remember at first instance not liking the school because of the crowd of children that surrounded me. I was extremely shy of people and remember crying a lot because of that. But then as the days passed by I started liking that school a lot due to the extremely conducive learning environment. It was all being run under Kundatai Chitale's leadership that time. I still like reading those report cards once in a while where I can feel the special efforts these teachers must have taken to develop abilities in individual children.
When I went in the 1st standard at Parle Tilak Vidyalaya, my nightmares started. It was bye for good to the Montessori Madam and her educational methods. I found that the crowd had more than doubled. I always had a feeling that the teachers were not attentive to the needs of the children but were acting with an attitude of making their students learn those lessons which they were teaching. I always tried to focus on studies under close attention of my mother and found myself selected in the special division that had all such students who had ranked enough to get there. It was like being in a race for getting good (I should say enough!) marks and not getting left out to find myself in another division next year. Entire efforts of the school were geared towards getting its students in the merit list of the final board examinations and it had started on it right from the primary school. I was just part of that system. I saw myself giving a consistent underperformance.
While in the class, I felt extremely shy and at the same time bored. I have still not figured out why I should have or should not have tried to get into that pursuit of getting extremely well in my studies. I was happy getting some good marks at the odd times in mathematics, Sanskrit and geography, which interested me then. I also had lot of inferiority complex that time as I was way down in my class in terms of the rank. When I passed the final board examinations with just enough marks to get into Science stream at Sathaye College in Vileparle, I found that it was not a sense of achievement for me but a sigh of relief.
Majority of my classmates had excelled in the exams and had gone for colleges and institutions that were well known centres of knowledge. Many went abroad and settled there. I am sure many of them would be doing financially well of course. I lost touch with majority of these people with the exception of occasional crossing of ways while walking on the streets of Vileparle. My path had changed as I chased a different field and explored unknown areas. I had found my own comfort zone and frankly speaking did not want to look back. I just shut that part of my memory and went further.
The cap on that bottled memory has come off now as slowly the new age channels like facebook and whatsapp brought me again in touch with my school classmates. It brought back those memories. I can now look at them with a neutral point of view and I can see what I did not see during the time when I was there. The school had played an important part in my life and given me the leads to where I am in the path of life.
Now I do appreciate that my love of going and travelling to places can be attributed to the special geography room in the school. I still remember the watchful eyes of Naik sir who taught us swimming. I remember him throwing me in the water when out of fear I remained standing on the edge of the school well. I had learnt an important life principle. "You learn swimming when you really get into water." While I hated unnecessary stress that was put on ornamentation during language classes, in the final year suddenly I had a newfound interest in the languages with our principle Sahasrabuddhe sir coming to teach us Marathi. I started liking the way he taught us exercises on reference to context and I implicitly relate it to my current skills in writing.
While in the school's value system achievement of good marks mattered most, I found myself that I was not completely worthless however as I still got an occasional pat on the back by teachers for achieving full marks in maths. I still laugh at the fact that I went on the stage at the annual function with a lousy average in the final board examinations to receive prize for highest marks in Sanskrit.It was not bad after all, eh!