It was my very first day to school. I lived in Gopeshwar, Northern India with my Dad, Mom and two sisters. My Mom sent my elder sister and me (I am the second one) with our naukar (servant) to drop us at school. And as I was going, I thought, “Mom will really like it if I go back home and show her that I don’t want to leave her”. And so instead of going to school, I came back home. My Mom was shocked to see me, she gave me a slap on my face (my first one – may be only one of two times she hit me), and took me to school herself and left me. I realized that not going to school was not an option. There are things which I have to go to school – no matter what. (I never missed any day unless it was really necessary). I think I also learned a lesson that I have certain responsibilities and I have to fulfill them – no matter what. (following my mom’s footsteps). And I see that pattern following my life – I try and fulfill my responsibilities – even at the sake of my space and time. Well, it’s time to change that, it’s time to give myself the priority.
After about an year we moved to Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. My Dad took us (me and my two sisters) to enroll us in the school, called New English Publish School. I remember that day clearly as he told our names to the Principal and Head Mistress (husband and wife). It was probably the first time I heard my name (I have another pet name at home). He said the names of my daughters are – Shalini, Preeti and Nidhi. Thank you Dad (and Mom)! I love my name, Preeti ! I even changed it’s spelling from Priti to Preeti because I love how the second one looks. I love my name – It means ‘Love’ – that’s exactly what I want my life’s purpose to revolve around.
Ok, coming back to my experiences. I was probably in Kindergarden. The teacher asked us to write alphabets in our books. I was so excited to write it, I sharpened my pencil and wrote letters (I kind of remember writing B,C and D in column). I think I had a thick pencil and it broke, so the alphabets were very thick and the page looked dirty with all the black marks. I was still proud of it and I took it to my teacher to show it. When I showed it to her, she gave me a very bad look, it was saying what have you done, it is very bad and she asked me to write it again. And my confidence was shaken. I thought I had done a good job but my teacher thought the opposite. Was I really good ?
Another experience in the same school was when there did auditioning for a dance performance. A group of teachers taught us some steps and then made us do it. I thought I was dancing very well, and they pulled me out. I thought ‘Wow I am selected’ but they in fact, they had pulled me out because they did not want me. Again, a feeling of ‘Am I really good’. — it was also slowly turning to ‘I am not good’. Come on dear girl, you did the best you could at that time, and I assure you, your handwriting is beautiful. And when I am in a mood, I dance really well, I just never spent enough time learning to dance. But you know what, it’s never late. You can learn anything you want. And you know what, you are really awesome ! :*
Another school experience that is extremely strong in my memory is during my UKG. It was late in afternoon, it was about time for school to get over. There was no electricity. And the whole class was making a lot of noise. Our teacher got very angry. She locked the door and said no one can leave this room, we cannot go home. I got soooooo scared. I thought I will be locked here foreverrrrrr. I think I started crying loudly. After a while, the electricity came, the teacher opened the door, and said, ‘Preeti, you go out first’. I must have been howling at the top of my voice. And I raced out of the class, feeling such a great relief that I was not trapped. The lesson that I taught myself was you have to listen to authorities, there is no getting away from rules, else you will get punished. And since then, I have followed all the rules, I have been someone who goes by what has been written. Hmmm, I think it was very wrong of the teacher to scare the kids like this (but don’t we scare the kids ourselves like this sometime – we shouldn’t). And we need to judge for ourselves what someone says – and decide whether we want to follow it or not. So rule or no rule – when someone says something – don’t follow it blindly, analyze and decide what you want. Ask questions, Ask ‘what if’, explore….