On Being Different

20 Jan

My brother and I owe many a thanks to our mother for her decisions and choices towards our upbringing. When she decided to enrol us in a school that was very different from the regular fare and in one which had an alternate perspective towards learning and the concept of education itself; plus having enticed us with the bait of it having no uniforms, no tests, no exams, etc, my reaction was a mix of anger and resentment – not because I’d envisioned the outcome of being different but because I wanted to go back to my regular school where I had begun my education and where I had already established a favourable reputation; but where I remembered zero of my classes or classmates and whose PT classes and teacher I despised (we were rejoining post a relocation from another city). I felt resentful at my fate for not being in my control because heck I would go back to my comfortable confines and to a place where the teachers knew me and where my report cards gave me the results any kid would love seeing. But that was (thankfully) not to be.

And so my brother and I began yet another journey in a place that reeked of a newness that I didn’t want to have to deal with. Everything was new and everything was unknown and everything needed me to start over from the very beginning. It was painful initially; and then each day rolled into the next at a speed that made me let go of any feeling whatsoever, like this universe engineers it every single time for each of us. Our entry began with a trip to a rainforest; something that was a way of this new school’s life. You almost always had to be hands on if you wanted to learn about something; including the art of learning itself. And so it was very customary for the kids to go on very educational, very adventurous and very enthralling trips that always centred around a particular theme or topic or subject. And so rainforests it was – my first ever close encounter with something I had only read about in books and whose names I’d gobbled up only to spill out very efficiently in the many tests I’d written. However, here was a name I hadn’t heard of and here was an actual, live rainforest, very far removed from the confines of a page and its writer’s perceptions. This was a rainforest for me to experience, explore and learn about.

As it turned out, the experience was both agonizing and exhilarating for someone who had never been to one and for someone who was amidst people who seemed to have visited rainforests like they did their backyards. It was a class/classroom I still remember, a lesson whose teachings are engraved in my mind’s library for I can still feel my heart racing the moment I encountered what seemed like an endless hanging bridge over a gushing river that I had to cross and was the last one to (I’m not a fan of heights), I can still hear the rising crescendo of the Common Hawk Cuckoo’s song (or the brain-fever bird, as it is more commonly known) in which I found my lullaby, I can still recollect the stories my mind told me so I could ease into a more fearless sleep surrounded by an absolute blackness that resonated with scary sounds and rustles and creeks with just a jute mat in between me and its bare floor. I told myself that even forests have stories to tell and here’s a bedtime story you’ve got the privilege of listening to. That just had to work because there was no plan b; and it did. I remember coming back home a little less scared and a lot more thirsty to learn.

At the cost of sounding preachy, I do believe that straying from the path and the norm is something we do so less of and should indulge in a lot more. We turned out pretty okay, my brother and I (as did all the other kids who graduated from that school). We fit back into mainstream educational institutes with more ease than the general public feared we lacked. And whenever I look back, I never see textbooks, report cards or confined spaces; just trees, the sea, a full moon, lakes, fields and meadows, galloping horses and elated dolphins, mountains and skies, shooting stars and telescopes, sunrises and sunsets, art, that thirst and the satisfaction of quenching it, music, dance and drama, yoga and martial arts, travel and stillness, discipline and a depth of knowledge that needed no constraints and compulsions. That’s perhaps why I hated and still do hate the word ‘compulsory’ as much as I do. I think we passed the biggest test of education and schooling because we grew up with the burning desire to think, question and understand; a facet in us that is, and always will be forever present and at the forefront.

Thank you mom, for taking us on the road less travelled. We are so proud to be different.

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One Response to “On Being Different”

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  1. The One On Exercise | Babska's Journey - March 30, 2016

    […] my brother and I shifted schools to one where the rules, while seemingly more relaxed, were binding in their own ways…we had an array […]

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