Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Small Girl’s Story – Why I am going to Boarding School

No small child likes to go to “Boarding School”.

No parents would like to willingly send their children to “Boarding School” – especially at a young age.

There is always some reason why parents send their small children to Boarding School.

In my case – I was sent to Boarding School in the 1960’s – at the tender age of 9 years and 3 months – because my father was posted to remote places where proper schooling facilities did not exist (In the early 1960’s – Kendriya Vidyalayas had not proliferated all over India as they are today)

So – we had many “Defence Brats” – children with “military” parents in transferable jobs to remote locations with no schooling facilities.

In another case – parents were undergoing “non-amicable” divorce and fighting a bitter custody battle for their only son – so they thought it was best to send their small son to a Boarding School till the case was decided.

Some parents feel that Boarding School will inculcate a sense of discipline their children – so they send their indisciplined “spoilt brats” to Boarding School to get disciplined.

Recently – someone suggested that Boarding School was a good option for “career couples” (especially those in long-distance marriages).  

Boarding School has both pros and cons.

It gives you uninterrupted education (in case of transferable parents – you do not have to change schools every 2 years because of your parents’ posting) – and – it makes you independent and tough.

But there are disadvantages as well – you lose out on family relationships – and you have to make a special effort to learn your own mother-tongue and culture.

So – when a “Techie” couple asked me whether they should send their child to a Boarding School – I was reminded me of a story I had written long back during the days of the “IT Boom” in Pune – a story narrated by a small girl who is being sent to a Boarding School.

Dear Reader: Here is the story…

Short Fiction

NB: I wrote this story long ago  around 20 years ago – in the 1990 during the days of the first Information Technology Boom (IT Boom) in the end 1990 which transformed Pune from a laid back salubrious Pensioners Paradise  into a bustling cosmopolitan metro.

This is one of my favorite stories  A Small Girls Story  narrated in her own words...


It all started when God took my baby brother away. 

Poor thing – my poor baby brother – poor little thing...

God took him away even before he was born.

And  Mamma was never the same again.

She changed forever. 

We were all so happy then  before God took my baby brother away.

A happy family  My Papa – MMamma – My loving Granny  and cute little Me.

We all lived in a cute little house in a place called Madiwale Colony in Sadashiv Peth in Pune.

In the morning  Papa caught the company bus to his factory in Pimpri  and Mamma walked me down to my school nearby on Bajirao Road.

And – in the evenings – we would all go to the Talyatla Ganpati Temple in Saras Baug – play on the lush green lawns  and if Papa was in a good mood  he would treat me to a yummy Bhel prepared by the man with the huge flowing beard at the Kalpana Bhel stall at Parvati Chowk on Tilak Road  on our way back home. 

On Sundays – we would go to Laxmi Road for shopping – eat Misal at Santosh Bhavan – and have Amba Ice Cream at Ganu Shinde  and  maybe  a Marathi movie at Prabhat, Vijay or Bhanuvilas. 

And – once in a while  Papa would take us on his Bajaj scooter to Camp  or a ride on the Jangli Maharaj Road  or to picnic spots like Khadakwasla and Katraj lakes  or hiking up Sinhagarh Fort  and once we even went all the way to Lonavala  Papa, Mamma and me  all 3 of us riding on our beloved and hardy scooter. 

It was a good life  and we were happy and content.

Two things are a must for a happy home.

First  you must love your home 

And – you must always want to go home – because – your home is the best place in the world for you

Second  your home must love you 

Your home must want you to come home  beckon you  yes  your home must welcome you and wait for you to come back – and – just like a pet dog – your home must be happy when you come back  and – your home must always want you to live at home.

Our cute little house in Sadashiv Peth – with all the loving people in living in it  was indeed a happy home – we loved our home – and – our home loved us. 

And  I had lots of friends all around. 

One day – they all said Mamma was going to have a baby.

Being a girl myself  I wanted a baby sister to play with  but Granny scolded me  and she said that it must be a baby brother  so I said okay – I would manage with a baby brother. 

And suddenly one day  when Mamma’s tummy was bloating quite a bit  they rushed her to hospital  and God took my unborn baby brother away.

Yes  God took my unborn baby brother away. 

It was at this moment that Mamma changed forever. 

I sat beside Mamma in the hospital and consoled her: “Don’t worry. God will send another baby brother.” 

And on hearing this  Mamma started crying.

She said she would never be able to have a baby again  and I was her only baby.

My Mamma looked pale  and she had a sad look in her eyes for many days  even after leaving hospital.

And most of the time – Mamma would sit alone – brooding by the window – or moping all alone in her room. 

“She will go crazy sitting in the house all day. Your wife must do something...!” everyone said.

But Papa was adamant: “Who will look after the house, my mother, my daughter...?” he asked. 

“Don’t worry  I will manage everything...” Granny said.

So Mamma joined a Computer class nearby.

And soon – she started becoming normal and happy again.

“She is a natural programmer...” my Mamma’s teachers praised her.

And when she finished the course  my Mamma was offered a good job in a top IT software firm. 

“No way...” said Papa, “I am the breadwinner. I don’t want my wife to work. I want her to look after the house.” 

“MCP... MCP...” everyone said to Papa.

I did not know what MCP meant  but it made Papa very angry. 

“Let her work. I will manage the house...” Granny said. 

“Don’t worry, Papa. Please let Mamma work. I am a big girl now and I can look after myself. I will study regularly and come first in class...” I promised.

And so  Mamma started working.

And when Mamma brought home her first pay cheque – she gave it to Papa.

My Papa did not take the cheque.

Instead  he said proudly: 

“I will be the last person to touch my wife’s money. I would rather starve – than live off my wife’s money.”

So my Mamma gave the money to Granny.

And Papa did not say a thing  he just sulked for days.

Life was hectic now.

Mamma got up very early  cooked the food  did the housework  got ready  and then both Papa and Mamma caught their respective company buses to their faraway workplaces – he went to his factory in Pimpri  and she went to the IT Park at Hinjewadi.

And after that Granny made me ready  I walked down Bajirao Road to my school. 

One day my Mamma’s boss came home with Mamma.

He said the company wanted to send Mamma abroad to America to work onsite on a project.

My Mamma’s boss had come to our home to convince Papa to let her go to America.

I thought that Papa would argue  and I hoped he would not let Mamma go to America.

But surprisingly – my Papa meekly agreed  probably thinking it was futile to argue  and Mamma went away to America for three months.

Then there was an IT Boom.

IT... IT... Software... Software... Everywhere...

That was a turning point in our lives.

Mamma started doing better and better  becoming more and more successful  doing more and more projects – and earning more and more money.

Papa felt jealous that Mamma was earning more than him  so he took Voluntary Retirement (VRS) from his job  and he started a business. 

I don't know what he exactly did  but his business was something to do with software and hardware.

My Papa got so busy – that he came home late in the evenings.

Now  Papa had no time for me  but his business seemed to be doing quite well. 

And then  a competition started between my Papa and my Mamma.

And soon – they both were making so much money that  one day  they said that Sadashiv Peth wasn’t a good enough place for us to live in any longer  as it did not befit their new found status...!

So we moved to a luxury apartment in a fancy township in a posh suburb of Pune  and I was put in a famous elite school known more for its snob appeal than academic accomplishments and studies.

Our new house was in a beautiful colony  far away from the city  with landscaped gardens – a clubhouse – a swimming pool – a gym  and so many facilities.

It was so luxurious  and the people living here were so highbrow and snobbish  that Granny and I were miserable.

“It’s like a 5 star prison...” my Granny would say.

She was right in one way.

For the whole day when we all were away  Granny was trapped inside the apartment with nothing to but watch soaps on cable TV in airconditioned comfort.

I too missed our cute old house in Sadashiv Peth  the Bhel  the trips to Saras Baug and Laxmi Road  and  most of all  my earlier friends who were so friendly  unlike the snobbish people here.

Oh yes  this luxury apartment was indeed a better HOUSE

But – our cute old place in Sadashiv Peth was certainly a better HOME

But Granny and me – we managed somehow  as Mamma increased her trips abroad to America  and Papa was busy expanding his flourishing business.

And one day  suddenly  God took Granny away.

Mamma was abroad in America on an important project  and she just could not come home immediately.

She came back after one month.

And then for days and days – Papa and Mamma kept discussing something.

I sensed that they were discussing about me – because whenever I would come they would keep quiet or change the topic.

And tomorrow morning  I am off to an elite boarding school in Panchgani. 

I do not know whether what has happened is good or bad  or what is going to happen in future.

But one thing is sure: 
If God had not taken my baby brother away  I would not be going to boarding school.

Yes  if God hadn’t taken my baby brother away  Mamma wouldn’t have taken up a job – and – I wouldn’t be going to boarding school.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This Story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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