The other day, my grand daughter came running to me one evening. She waved a piece of paper at me held in her hand and excitedly told me that we (myself and her grand mother) were cordially invited to her school. I did not believe her and had a look at the paper in her hand. Well! What she had said was truly the fact. We were indeed invited to her school on the coming Wednesday, at exactly 9.30 in the morning. The School was going to celebrate the grandparents day and grand children of all folks like me, were going to present a variety entertainment programme, in front of the grand parents, on that morning . For next few days, I got many instructions from my grand daughter. How we should be punctually seated in the school auditorium before 9.15 A.M. How we must carry with us the invitation card. Only two grand parents would be allowed in on one invitation card etc. etc.
I recollected that in my school days, we never had such special days. Leave aside grand parents, even parents were seldom asked to visit the school except on occasions, when the pupil was found to be exceptionally undisciplined or badly failing in studies. Such summons would inevitably be for ordering the parents to discipline their child or arrange for extra tuition to improve his performance in school with an implied threat of otherwise being given the sack. I do not recollect my parents visiting my school for any school programmes, during those eleven years, I spent in school, except for one occasion, when I actually forced them to come and meet our idiotic head master.
During my school days, a scheme was started by the education department. Under the scheme, it was possible to select optional technical subjects in lieu of History, Geography and Sanskrit from 8th standard onwards. To be frank, I never liked that scheme and was not interested in it. My mother, who was working in the educational field, somehow came to know about the scheme and I had no choice but to opt for these techie subjects and started attending Government Technical High School for couple of days every week. For first two years, things went on smoothly till our cranky head master came out with a weird scheme. In our school, students of each standard were divided in divisions designated by the alphabets. A division designated with the first letter of the alphabet or an ‘A’ would have all the boys who were very good in their studies. It used to be a matter of pride for any of us boys to be part of this division. Since I was always considered to be good in studies, during all my school years till then, I was always part of this ‘A’ division. It was then suddenly decided by the school, that all students who have opted for techie subjects, would henceforth be part of ‘D’ division. I was suddenly transferred to this new class with rest of the boys not having much inclination for learning(except 5 of us who had opted for techie subjects), having spent number of years to clear each and every standard. I fell ill at ease in this class and was most unhappy. I kept complaining about this unjust treatment to me to my parents so often that finally both of them agreed and came to meet the Head Master. Needless to say, our dumb head master did not agree or bother about any change in the new rules and I spent last two years of my school years in most depressed and intellectually suffocating environment. I lost all my good friends till then.
In fact, now I realize that some of the other policies of our school were really strange as well. Our school had a big playground and even a permanently built open air theater. Yet, our school never invited any of the parents for the annual social gatherings of the school, except for the parents of the boys who were awarded top merit scholarships and prizes. There used to be about 8 or 10 such meritorious boys in each standard. Which meant that school invited only such 100 odd parents to the school. The only way for other parents to find out anything about the school, its activities and how their ward was doing in the school, was the annual examination results card.
Suppressed for long time in my mind, these memories of my school days, came out with no lessened bitterness whatsoever, even after so many years, as I read that day the invitation card from my grand daughter’s school. For me, school had always remained a sad and forgettable period of my life. Most of my classmates in my new ‘D’ division, left further education after they somehow manged to complete their schooling and I never had a chance to meet any one of them again in my life. To day there is a considerable amount of public debate, over school-parents relationships so as achieve maximum wholesome growth of students in all aspects of education. Our school was totally ignorant of such ideas and happily avoided parents of the students at all costs.
This morning, my grand daughter again called me to remind me about the programme in the school. I asked her casually, whether she would be participating in any of the individual performances, that were planned for today’s event. Her answer was totally unexpected and surprising. She told me that each and every student (boy or girl) has to participate in some or other event and would have to come on to the stage at least once. Naturally, my grand daughter was participating in one of the dance performance. Her answer again took me back to my school days. My school never encouraged or gave opportunities for students to develop their sports or performing arts abilities. Some student always had these things in them and would always excel. Our school merely selected such boys for various sports and performing arts. No effort was made at any level to encourage students to pick up new sports or arts. I was somewhat good in debating. School always picked me up inter-school debating competitions. No effort was ever made to encourage other boys, so they can pick up art of public speaking. I never did well in sports in the school and hence was always neglected in this field.
Needless to say, we reached our grand daughter’s school on the dot and were quite happy to be received cordially by slightly elder students. We were shown the way to the auditorium very courteously and were made very comfortable. I saw lots of posters on the walls on my way, welcoming the grand parents. Some of the posters talked about feelings of the children about their grand parents. No doubt, I had a slight choking sensation in my throat as I read those. We were asked to remove our foot-wear outside the auditorium and were made to sit in comfortable sitting arrangements. The variety entertainment programme started on time and lasted for about two and half hours. A grand child is always a precious gift for any grand dad or mom. It was therefore no wonder that each and every item presented by grand children of all those present in the hall, be it be a dance, skit or a song was wide appreciated with plenty of clapping.
The programme ended after about two and half hours. I heard an announcement that all grand parents must have a glass of cooling lemon drink before they leave. It was fun to drink a sip of lemonade, from the same small cups, used by our grand children to drink their milk on every day at the school.
As I was leaving the hall and alighting the stairs, I saw my grand daughter waiting for me. I waved to her and indicated to her that I loved the variety entertainment programme. As I watched her glittering eyes and the feeling of immense joy on her face, I felt extremely happy and lost all my senses for a fraction of a second. I then realized, why a grand child is always a darling of the eyes, somebody so special, for any grand dad.
(First published in Akshardhool on 18 May 2013)