While walking, I normally see mothers and their school going kids waiting for the school buses. The other day, I saw a mother literally hauling a bawling youngster to the parked bus and bundle her into the hands of the ‘conductor’ in the bus. The sight drew a smile from me… Suddenly I was transported way back into my past… When I was in KG 2 or Grade 1… We were in Chalakkudy and I hated going to school. I remember crying every morning. Once my mom had dressed me up and done my hair. I’d walk weeping to the school. I really don’t remember the reasons as to why I hated school. I just did and threw these weepy tantrums till one fateful day. That day, while doing my hair, my mom was talking to Dad about how her niece had fallen into a tank of water and got almost drowned. It is rightfully said that little pitchers have big ears! I understood that some accident had taken place and concluded that my cousin had died. That was excuse enough for me not to go to school. But Mom wouldn’t let me grieve at home. When Lakshmi, the senior girl in the high school section of my school came, she handed me over to her and as usual I cried my way to school. I kept crying till the nun who was my class teacher asked me why I was howling. I told her my cousin had died that day and the compassionate nun, called Lakshmi and told her to drop me off home. On reaching home, Lakshmi told my mom what I had said and mom was livid. She gave me the whacking of my life in front of Lakshmi and made me walk back to school…crying louder still more due to insult than injury… Parents those days hadn’t heard about the psychological impact of corporal punishment and all that jazz that protects kids these days….They firmly believed that if you spared the rod, you spoilt the child… Sigh! I must say, they knew what they were doing…I never so much as whimpered, while going to school ever again! While I was a teacher, there were days when I wanted to just crawl under the blanket and sleep blissfully the entire morning…but no… I never indulged in that luxury. So even on my ‘bad hair’ days…’bad ‘here’ days’ …and ‘bad ‘there’ days’, I’d drag myself to the school, paste a plastic smile on and face the day. Thanks to my dad’s service in the state electricity board, we used to change schools every 3 years… i.e., whenever he got transferred! So I have studied in schools and colleges from Canannore to <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1:CITY><ST1LACE>Trivandrum</ST1LACE></ST1:CITY>… While doing my second standard in Trichur, I remember disliking my school…but that was for a definite reason. I was terrified of the headmaster! Sitaraman Maashu was a rakshasa incarnate. He had bloodshot protruding eyes and teeth that jutted menacingly out of his upper lip. My brothers used to call him “Pallavaraayan master”. What I dreaded was the cane in his hand… the 3 feet long and one inch thick monstrosity that swished viciously before landing on an extended palm or dodging calves. For years I used to have nightmares about him. The fact that he was family friend did not matter to me… He was a monster as far as I was concerned. One day, I had gone to school with my hair loose as it was wet after bath. It was mandatory that girls plait their hair or at least tie it up. After assembly, the headmaster had come on his rounds checking each class and the moment he entered my class we all stood up and greeted him. Then he spotted me and roared “WHY HAVEN’T YOU PLAITED YOUR HAIR? I’LL CUT IT OFF WITH MY SCISSORS!” I just remember standing there terrified….the next instant both the headmaster and my class teacher (Rukhiyabi teacher) noticed that I had piddled in fright. The teacher told him something - probably about who I was…( My granddad was a very well known person in Trichur and a close friend of his…) and he went out… The teacher asked me to go home. I remember sobbing all the 10 minutes run home! How I hated that man…for humiliating me in front of my classmates… and my family…for everyone teased me about this incident till I left that school… This was one reason why I would never insult or slight any of my students ever in my 14 years of teaching. Thank God, all these little things never created in me a hatred for schools, though I could never be friendly beyond a point with the Principals, headmasters and department heads in whichever school I studied or worked … Not that I really put in any effort… But I have really enjoyed my school and college days…till 83 when I finished my Masters… My golden years… But to date I hate bullies and sadists whether they are students, parents, teachers, supervisors….or headmasters! I feel nobody has the right to insult anyone’s self respect… Maybe that little girl who was crying while boarding the school bus was trying to make a statement… I wish the parents and the school would be empathetic with her!