Remembering and Rediscovering My Innocent Version as a Kid – the Life I Always Wanted to Live

I grew up in a small and peaceful semi-urban town in South India, filled with greenery gleaming with not just the sunshine but love and warmth of a small community of people amidst the farm fields. First thing that I recollect is the intriguing adventures of my older brother who was my real-time hero. He amazed me with his skills that challenged me to explore this world in a better way. We were a group of around ten families who were of different belief backgrounds, but we upheld values to respect each other while celebrating life in the simplest way. We had enough friends to play with different age groups, an amazing culture and environment and my mom’s love filled with discipline and humility.

Being closer to nature, we were healthy, fit and strong. We used to spend the entire day outdoors and not return home until dusk. I learnt the joy of sharing and giving as a single community irrespective of diversified culture, being adventurous to selfless, my childhood was one of the best anyone can imagine. My school was around a 1-kilometre away from home and the only private school in town, which was across the town, and roads to the school were mostly empty and quiet. We, friends always walked together to school. I often remember walking royally on the newly laid tarred road with hardly any vehicles passing by. On the way I could hear the chirping of the birds and cluttering of the leaves while the breeze would make an eerie sound while it waved through the paddy fields and the weeds. We spoke endlessly and walked merrily to be precise and enjoyed our journey together as best of friends. We would get lost in our world or live in moments with gestures like my brother posing cricket actions and I would be making Bharatanatyam dance steps while walking without being conscious. I am sure It would have embarrassed us if anyone was watching us or commented on anything.

As a child I was disciplined and learned to follow rules set by my mom. She was a school teacher of the same convent where my brother studied and handled primary classes. When I turned 3, I was enrolled in Nursery and it gave me immense joy to go to the school wearing the navy-blue uniform. The school was run by the nuns of a convent that was within the campus. The main school building had a huge sports ground that looked like an infinity to reach to the other side, especially through a three-year old’s eyes.

Nursery class room was a vast room with colourful hangings, charts and boards, painted in sky-blue shade. I felt like heaven sitting in that room. I greatly admired my class teacher who seemed to be the most beautiful lady after my mom. I had looked up to the Principal who was a nun, she was a refined woman of high social position, standing tall with a cheerful smile, polite and well-spoken. We had exchanged smiles a couple of times and she would generally say, your mom is our teacher, do let me know if anyone bothers you. Maybe this statement stuck to my mind so strongly that I knew exactly where to go, if at all I had any problem.

When I got promoted to Lower kindergarten, we were allowed to play in the school ground but had to walk a distance of around 100 – 200 metres from our classroom. Our class helper would monitor us while she accompanied us to the ground but never really did her job. While we were playing, there was a boy who was taller and healthier than me who started throwing sand on some of us. I told him to apologise and stop doing the same. When he did not stop his act, I warned him that I would go to the principal to complain. He still did not stop and came forward to hit me. I ran to the Principal’s office and stood in front of her filled with emotions and tears rolling down my eyes. I said “this boy who hit me is not listening to anyone but is throwing sand on all of us”. She smiled casually and said I cannot walk up to the ground, you please bring him here. So, I ran back to the ground and asked him to accompany me to the principal’s office.

He wasn’t willing to join me and immediately out of all the energy I had, quickly lifted him and walked up to the office. He was embarrassed and afraid, screamed and cried to let him go, but I was determined to get him to the office. Without a pause I walked bravely carrying him with both my hands tied around his waist. Those 200 metres seemed like 2 kilometres, and yet I was steadfast until I put him down right in front of the Principal. She was astonished and dazed at what had just happened!

She looked at me like a brave heart who stood like a tigress looking forward for justice, and at the same time the crying, perplexed boy who was equally shocked by what was happening! With a quavering voice, I said “this is the boy who troubled us and hit me in the ground” I expected her to question and punish him for his behaviour and take an oath that he would never trouble anyone again. But she burst out of laughter and called all the staff to explain what had just happened. This became a story to narrate to all in the school. Definitely, the Principal would have solaced both of us! Later on, I would run away from her as she would tell this incident to all and laugh out loud.  But, the maturity of handling this and respecting others is the basic values that we grew up in the convent by following virtues of wisdom and knowledge by being human.

As we grew up, things changed, but the thoughts and emotions still remain. I cannot take anyone being insulted or humiliated. But I have stopped expecting people to be punished as I have gained confidence that Karma will take charge and punish those who are guilty. We reap what we sow, we are all here to learn lessons and this lesson; of not taking anyone’s life lightly, is to be explained and taught instead of randomly making them guilty and punished. Life is fun when we learn from our childhood experiences.

Childhood Memories by Dr. Beena Pinto (Parent of Ania Pinto-9A and Adrin Pinto-5D)☺

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