I come from an all girls’ school. Just five hundred of us in the whole school, spanning pre-school to tenth grade. But if anyone of you thinks that being in an all girls’ school is dull and boring, then you are very mistaken. We studied, we fought, we played pranks, we broke rules, we got into trouble. And through it all we also stood together as a class. I am sure that women, who have had the experience of one, will agree with me totally. We had some marvelous years and some equally hilarious memories to take away from our school.
Coincidentally, we also had an all female staff. Except for the four peons and two watchmen who graced our premises, it was an all female domain. I remember one year, when we did have a male instructor for basketball. Though none of us know the real reason why he left his position, we like to believe till date that he was intimidated by the number of women around him and decided to escape.
We were very fortunate to be taught by women, who were ladies in the true sense of the word. Graceful and elegant, they set an example, which was inspiring to say the least. And yet they were firm and stern enough to keep us on track and not allow us to get pampered. Today when my daughter comes home from school and describes her class teacher’s dress and accessories, I smile as I am immediately transported back to my school and our keen observation of our teachers. I think it must be a very feminine trait to observe these details. I don’t recall my son recounting these things to me. We not only knew the dressing styles of each teacher but also their other individualistic traits. We knew exactly whose class we would be able to get away with murder and whose class required total silence and attention.
And yet these were the women who were our mothers away from home. I am sure they too knew each child’s pluses and minuses, the way we knew theirs.
Most of my classmates have been together through all the years of school, which makes it thirteen years together. We know each other in a way, few others do. We have been together at an age when we didn’t know how to put up false fronts. That came later in life. So it would be truthful to say that these are people who know me at my rawest.
My batch had always made an effort to keep in touch. We had group emails even before social networks made their appearance. The arrival of Facebook or IMs only made things easier for us. Today we have a Whatsapp group with 28 girls, out of the 45 who graduated together. Some choose not to be on these chats simply due to professional inconveniences. But they are still in touch. I feel so fortunate that we are connected in spite of being in different parts of the world. Our relation has evolved over the years. From being classmates and good friends, today we are a support system to each other, at least emotionally. From discussing books, teachers, boys, makeup, PMS, parents, and movies, we have graduated to discussing our homes, spouse, children, perimenopause, grey hair. It’s been such a beautiful journey. And I wake up every morning and look forward to my cup of tea and the scores of messages awaiting me. It sets a good tone to the day. If I feel perturbed, I know I can put it down in front of these girls. I know I don’t have to think and speak here. I can just be.
When we are at school we are so conscious about what our friends think about us. Ironically these are the same friends and probably the only friends, with whom I can be totally myself today.
PS: We still discuss books, teachers, movies and boys.