Friends, credit is due for the first paragraph of this story to my nine-year-old daughter who is delighted by this series and is also the illustrator for the same.
“It’s a clear blue sky,” said the little girl’s mother, looking up.
“Yes!” the little girl replied, but did not bother to look up herself. She was holding her mother’s hand tightly. It was all sweaty. The little girl was worried. She had learnt the tables well and could write the alphabets too. But would she remember all of it in a ‘stranger’ school? Mother always told her not to talk to strangers. She wondered why mother and father had twisted the rule for the ‘stranger’ school? Probably because it was so big and famous.
Mother had often spoken to her about it, and told her how as a young girl she too had desired to study there. But they were a big family and so she was sent off to another school along with her siblings. But she so wanted the little girl to go to this one.
“There we are!” said mother pointing to a giant black gate. Everything in the school was so big, unlike the little kindergarten where she went to have fun and study too.
As they entered through the gate, the little girl felt a butterfly fluttering its wings inside her tummy. Was she hungry? She was not sure.
They walked up a cobbled path that led to a beautiful garden with colourful flowers. It was indeed a big school! The butterfly fluttered its wings again. Before she could tell her mother that she was probably hungry or something was wrong with her tummy, the little girl was led to the other end of the garden where on a white cane back chair sat an old woman dressed in pure white, with a blue headgear. Was she a teacher? The principal? Maybe. But teachers in kindergarten didn’t wear white skirts and blue veils. The principal there always wore a sari.
“Wish your teacher little one!” the little girl’s mother looked at her, like she always did when the neighbours came over and the little girl forgot to greet them. She was about to do so but just then her eyes fell on her friend from kindergarten sitting right next to the teacher. Hurrah! She had a companion. The little girl smiled and waved at her friend. Her plump, red cheeks made her eyes almost disappear every time she smiled. The friend waved back at her.
“She’ll be fine,” said the teacher and the little girl’s mother walked away. The little girl watched her leave with misty eyes.
“Sit down,” the teacher said, picking up a picture book from the table. The little girl tried to talk to her friend, but the latter put her finger on her lips and simply nodded from right to left. They were not only class fellows but neighbours too. The little girl admired the flowers on her friend’s dress. She hoped she too had worn something similar and not the blue dungarees her mother so loved.
Her friend seemed to be jumping out of her seat. She was trying to peep into the book. Had the little girl missed something?
“Which of you can tell me the colour of the sky?”
‘It’s a clear blue sky,’ the little girl heard her mother’s voice in her head.
“Blue,” the two girls shouted in unison as they tittered together. The little girl waited to say the tables. But the teacher only wanted to know the colour of the grass and of her back chair. She then asked them to leave. The little girl was disappointed…no tables! She had spent a long time trying to memorize them. But she was happy it was over and got up quickly while her friend first chose to say ‘thank you’.
The little girl was confused. Should she also thank the teacher?
“You must,” mother had always told her. But wasn’t it too late now?
“Thank you!” she mumbled to herself.
That evening all the neighbours gathered at the little girl’s house. They always did when something big happened. The men sat in the parlour with her father while the women sat with her mother, trying to comfort her. The little girl’s mother had been crying. Her father had brought home the sad news that the little girl had not been given admission in the ‘stranger’ school unlike her friend who would now be studying there.
Both the girls ran around the garden while the elders mulled over the situation. The little girl also wondered why the school had not liked her. Could it have been the ‘thank you’ or the ‘good morning’? Because she did know about the blue sky!
Tears veiled her eyes too as she saw her mother cry. She wished the teacher had liked her…but secretly she felt relieved.
She loved the kindergarten. It didn’t have a beautiful garden but she knew all the children there and she also liked the principal in a sari. She looked at her friend. She would miss her though, she thought.
That night the little girl heard her parents talk. Her mother was sure she wouldn’t give up until the school gave admission to her daughter.
The little girl wasn’t quite pleased to hear that. She felt a butterfly fluttering its wings in her little tummy again. She wondered what made schools choose some children and not the others. She thought of memorizing the tables once again but soon fell asleep.
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To read the previous post in this series visit here