There is this school right behind my present place of accommodation called ‘Neeraj public School’ I think. So every morning, when I am on the verge of waking up, the choir greets me with a prayer song, followed by news headlines, and a small speech on some random topic, and then the National Anthem. At times, I also get to hear, a particular Class 7 or 8 or 9, being asked to stay back, and then given an hour long lecture about how school property should be treated with care, and how Play-grounds are not to be littered. Every Saturday morning, this routine is followed by what is obviously the PT class, with the drum being banged away for an hour again.
But today was different. The first thing I heard was as usual the prayer song. But it was not followed by the news, or the even the anthem for that matter. Instead, there were loud blaring cheers, and hoots, and then at full volume, bass and treble, I could hear ‘Dus Bahaane karke Le gaye Dil’! It took my half asleep brain around 2 minutes to realize that today was actually Children’s Day J…
In school, like all other kids, I always waited eagerly for the 14th of November. Probably even more so, as it is my Mom’s birthday, and that usually meant eating out (as did my dad’s birthday, and their wedding anniversary. Our birthdays were usually, the cut cake, call all friends home kinda celebrations). But it obviously started with school. And school that day was awesome fun.
Firstly, you got to wear casuals. Which was a big change from the usual grey and white uniform. And it removed to a great extent, the ‘you’re-in-school’ feeling. So that mattered quite a bit.
Then, you didn’t have to carry books, as there were no classes. And that removed the all the remaining ‘you’re-in-school’ feeling. So there you were, wearing your party clothes, and without your heavy bag, all ready to enjoy the one complete day of freedom at school.
The routine remained the same through the years. All the children were greeted at the gate with chocolates. Really small ones, but I didn’t seem to mind the quantity till around 9th class I guess, when I actually learnt cribbing about everything. A considerably shorter prayer in the grounds followed this, and every student would be eagerly looking forward for it to end, well, as always.
Then came the Star attraction of the day. Performances by the faculty. It was always amusing to see the ‘I-am-just-too-cool-for-words’, Mrs. Nathaniel dance to the tunes of ‘Mere Haathon mein nau nau choodiyan hain’, or listen to the ‘hindi ki kaksha mein angrezi shabdon ka prayog uchit nahi hain’ Mrs. C.P.Gupta, actually hum an English number!
The euphoria would last the entire day. The chocolates would be long gone, the music would have stopped, but there would be no end to the discussions about the same. These would start from amongst the classmates, to the children in the bus, and finally to Mom and Dad at home. And the final pause would be when I would go to sleep, exhausted, tired, and genuinely happy.
As I write all this, I feel all grown up. Kind of like I am discussing the ‘Good ol’ days’ or something like that. Fact is, I have never even remembered this day for being Children’s day for quite a few years now. And today, all because of this school next to my building, I got to journey back in time, and think about the days that are long gone, but are still capable of bringing a smile to the face J.